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The Coach Across the Street
May 2009 | Judd Halenza, 15th

 

Steve and Angie Fisher moved across the street from my house in Del Mar about 10 years ago. We got to know each other while taking our garbage cans out for pick up! He never came across as a guy with a big ego, nor did he ever mention his history as the basketball coach for the University of Michigan from 1989 to 1997. During that period his teams made 7 NCAA and 2 NIT appearances, and Michigan won the NCAA championship in 1989 during Steve’s tenure.

Now I figured that’s all fine and good, but Michigan is in the Big Ten, and San Diego State…is not. For his sake (and sanity!) I wanted State to do well, but the deck was stacked against him. SDSU basketball had a sad history prior to Steve showing up, with 13 losing seasons in 14 years. Interestingly, in one of his first interviews, Steve said “We have everything here that we need to be successful at the highest level.” I thought this was pretty optimistic for a guy that inherited a team that went 4-24 the year before!

Well, he sure showed me. With his quiet resolve the Aztecs are now a team to be reckoned with nationally. By building methodically, Steve’s teams just keep getting better and better. The Aztecs have been to postseason tournaments each of the last 3 years. Just a few weeks ago SDSU won 3 post-season games in a row in the NIT tournament. They finally lost in the semifinal game at Madison Square Garden in New York City. This year’s team won 26 games, a new school record.
Always thinking ahead, Steve has a top-ranked recruiting class coming in for next year. Steve’s secret weapon for attracting talented young men and their parents is not only his ability to teach basketball skills, but his commitment to growing young boys into young men of character. It is not unusual to hear these young men saying, “Coach Fisher is like a father to me.”
After his return from New York, I caught up with Steve while he was carrying groceries into the house. I asked him what he thought about the game and he said “That Baylor team sure shot well, didn’t they.” Which was true, Baylor had their best shooting percentage of the year in the first half. The Aztecs just lost to a hotter team that night.

When asked about next year, Steve said “We’ll probably do OK.” I have learned through the years that Coach Fisher is not subject to hyperbole. He just quietly goes about his work and produces excellent results, year in and out.

   
 

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