There is a new sheriff in town, and he’s on the verge of becoming the fastest paper-slinger north of the Rio Grande.
This fall, student-athletes at Riverbank High will perform under the meticulous supervision of first-year Athletic Director John Bartlett, a longtime physical education teacher and Lady Bruins golf coach.
Bartlett is rapidly becoming an expert in vital paperwork, a necessary attribute for the replacement of five-year AD, Jason Herrera.
Herrera, a special education teacher, stepped down from the AD position this summer. Riverbank administration moved quickly to fill the position with an instructor already on campus, and Bartlett was an immediate choice.
“They felt I would be the best person for the job that’s on staff, so with a little prodding they talked me into trying it out,” Bartlett said. “We kind of went back and forth. It’s a lot of work and time away from home.
“I have young daughters at home, so it was a tough decision.”
Bartlett is a 42-year-old Calaveras High graduate. He wrestled and played baseball for the Redskins, ultimately claiming back-to-back Mother Lode League wrestling titles in 1988 (132 pounds) and 1989 (138 pounds). He went on to play baseball and wrestle for Modesto Junior College, but departed a collegiate athletic career to earn his teaching credential at Stanislaus State University.
He landed at Tracy High in 1998 and spent three years as a P.E. teacher, assistant wrestling coach and head freshman baseball coach. He joined the Bruin staff in 2001, but wasn’t needed on the baseball staff or wrestling mat (Riverbank had longtime coach Jerry Pief in that position).
Instead he was asked to coach golf — on three separate occasions.
“They asked me to coach golf and I said ‘no’, asked again and I said ‘no’, then asked me a third time, saying they really wanted someone on campus and I agreed,” Bartlett said. “Once I took over, I had a blast.
“It’s quite different than the other years I spent coaching, and every coach in the league wondered how I, at 30 years of age, was able to get a golf job.”
He’s still involved with the links program, but Bartlett’s schedule is now a strict itinerary of operations.
Bartlett credited former AD, Herrera, in aiding his understanding of the position and easing the transition.
“I’m kind of learning as I go, and Jason Herrera has been a huge asset,” Bartlett said. “As a golf coach I knew what was needed of me, but it’s so much more than I thought. I spend every minute of my prep periods taking care of paperwork.”
Bartlett has two prep periods on campus devoted to dogged paperwork. He rallies to cover transfers, transportation, scheduling, funding, coach-hiring, ensure the eligibility of RHS athletes and attend section/league meetings.
He’s elevated assistant coach Ismael Mercado to a head coaching role with Lady Bruins golf, but stayed on as assistant for the program. When he’s not deeply entrenched in RHS athletics, he’s coaching his daughter’s Salida Middle School volleyball team.
“I’m way busier,” Bartlett admitted dryly. “I already feel challenged and I feel like I am running ragged — but I am seeing light.“I don’t plan on going anywhere. I love it here, and I love my job.”