Jeff Jennings’ retirement as coach of the boys varsity basketball teams at Riverbank High School was celebrated by family, friends, colleagues and lots of former players at the Riverbank Community Center on Sat., July 17.
Following the meal, guests were invited to share a few words and describe their relationship with the coach, and share some of the lessons they learned. There was only the occasional hint of “roast” in the comments, and Jennings had the opportunity to defend himself following the other speakers.
Along the way, some speakers noted that some of his former players are accomplished, with one serving an internship at Harvard. Others have gone on to be teachers, coaches, or undertake other careers.
Some former players, from Jennings' early years, noted how he helped them get what was their first job while in high school, at the former Daniel's Market.
Jennings said that he started out at just 19 years of age, coaching at Riverbank High while attending college and working at Daniel's. He first coached freshman basketball, and then held the varsity position starting in 1996. He is a UCLA Bruin alumni.
One item decorating the sign-in table was a set of two posters, with the names of the players on all of his teams at Riverbank High over the past 25 years.
Jennings was credited with originating the annual alumni basketball tournament, and with starting the Christmas break basketball workshops on Saturdays in January. At these tournaments he offers instruction and game play for elementary and middle school players in town who wish to improve their skills. They are mentored by high school players from both boys' and girls' teams.
Jennings said that he will still be teaching in the classroom for a time, but expects to spend more time with family.