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Van Lengen retires

By: Staff Report
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After 44 years of helping shape and mold the lives of thousands of young men, Jerry Van Lengen is hanging up his whistle as a football coach at Del Oro High School. “It’s been a lot of fun, but it’s time to step aside,” said Van Lengen. “When I look back it really doesn’t seem like it’s been that long, but it really has.” Van Lengen has been Del Oro’s head JV coach for the past 10 years. Prior to that he had an illustrious coaching career that spanned over four decades. “It was great because I was doing something I loved,” said Van Lengen. “It was a lot of work, but fun too.” Van Lengen started his coaching career during the late 1960s as a student teacher at his alma mater, Burbank High, in South Sacramento. He then had a four-year stint as an assistant coach at Hilmar High, in the San Joaquin Valley. Van Lengen then had assistant coaching stops at Highlands and Grant before returning to Hilmar as the head coach in 1978. It was at Hilmar where Van Lengen had his finest hour as his teams from 1986 to 1989 won four consecutive Div. III CIF Sac-Joaquin Section titles and at the time had a 46-game win streak, which ranks as one of the top five all-time in California history. His 14-year coaching record at Hilmar was a scintillating 120-24. Van Lengen then took the head coaching job at Placer High for five seasons before stepping down and helping with the frosh program there for one season. He then came to Del Oro in 1996 as a JV assistant coach for five seasons and then the head coach the final 10. His last three JV teams at Del Oro were 36-4, with three Sierra Foothill League titles. Del Oro principal Dan Gayaldo summed up Van Lengen’s coaching career for the Golden Eagles, calling the veteran coach “ a rock of stability.” “Having a coach like Jerry at the JV level is invaluable,” said Gayaldo. “The transition year from being a freshman and getting ready for the varsity is huge and Jerry was there as that cornerstone for us. We’re lucky to have had him there for so many years.”