Eric Guerrero has never owned Matanzas Pirates gear in his entire life.
Guerrero, 30, graduated from crosstown rival Flagler Palm Coast High School in 2008. It was where he met his wife, Evonne. He played on the Bulldogs’ basketball team, coached girls volleyball for two seasons right after graduating and was an assistant coach on the boys basketball team for a season before joining head coach Javier Bevacqua on the Bulldogs’ girls basketball team in 2011. He had been there ever since.
“We’re going to run. We’re going to play defense. And I’m going to get you ready for the
ERIC GUERRERO, Matanzas girls basketball coach
But on this particular day, Guerrero slipped on a Pirates shirt for the first time. He looked at his wife. They were both in shock.
“If it didn’t feel good, it wouldn’t have worked,” said Guerrero, who was introduced on June 17 as the next head coach of Matanzas’ girls basketball team. “But putting it on, it feels good.”
Leaving FPC was one of the toughest decisions he’s ever made. He formed tight bonds with all of the girls on the team, many of whom he’s coached since they were fourth graders. His relationship with Bevacqua, the Bulldogs’ longtime head coach, helped mold him into the man he is today.
Bevacqua had always been in his corner encouraging him. From Day 1, Bevacqua was grooming him to become a head coach one day.
Without that support, Guerrero said, taking the Matanzas job would have been unfathomable.
“Coach B’s a guy that would never hold anyone back, and he wants to see people succeed,” Guerrero said. “They all know I love the community, and that I’m trying to make girls basketball so much bigger in Flagler County.”
The Pirates haven’t had a solid girls basketball program since the school’s inception. The Pirates went 0-17 under first-year head coach Monterika Warren last season. The season before that, they went 5-12 under Dan Toblin.
Guerrero believes that will change.
“I just don’t think they had someone who fought for girls basketball like we did at FPC,” he said. “That’s what I want to do here. If the girls will see they have a coach who cares and is willing to fight for them, they’re going to produce better on the court and in life.”
“We’ve always had a great relationship. When you do the right thing, you usually have
that support. People see when someone does a good job. Now he’s reaping the benefits of that.”
JAVIER BEVACQUA, FPC girls basketball coach
He’s already feeling the support from the Matanzas High School community.
“We were looking for someone who had a passion for what they’re doing,” Pirates Athletics Director Zach Rigney said. “Not only does he have a passion for basketball, but he’s passionate about Flagler County.”
Taking the step forward into the head coaching realm was a leap of faith for Guerrero. He’s left the relative comfort and security of being an assistant. Win or lose, the pressure will be on his shoulders now.
“I think I’m ready for that commitment and that responsibility,” he said. “You need support in order to build a program up. I feel like I have that here.”