George Nessman, a 1981 Cal graduate and former Bay Area high school coach and
teacher is doing just that after having spent the past ten years in California's Central
Valley. The Golden Bears' new assistant coach has fond memories of his time at Cal, and is honored to be back.
Cal fans will be glad to know that he once sat in Harmon Gym cheering on the Bears. Hes a fan of the program, and considers it a highlight of his career to now work inside a program that he once rooted for.
To describe George Nessman as tireless would be an understatement.
Hes regarded as one of the finest teachers and coaches at the junior
college level in California. Just ten days after graduating from Cal
with a social welfare degree, his coaching and teaching career started.
His first position was as teacher, cross-country coach and junior
varsity basketball coach at Salesian High School in Richmond. A few years later, he was
named head coach at De La Salle in Concord and spent seven seasons building one of the top
high school basketball programs in Northern California. The Spartans averaged more
than 22 wins a season during his tenure, including a NorCal Sectional
Championship and five conference titles.
During that time as a teacher and high school coach, Nessman finished his
own education by completing a master's degree in education from San Francisco State. He
earned another master's from St. Marys College in health and physical education.
Somehow or another, he found time to get married and start a family in the Concord area as
Things changed quickly for Nessman and his small family as they decided to
leave the Bay Area in 1993 after he accepted a position as professor and head
coach at Porterville College. It was a decision he fondly remembers.
I wouldnt say it was a shock in arriving but my wife and I
definitely had to adjust our lifestyle from a things-to-do standpoint,
Nessman said, referring to the small-town environment south of Visalia. But at the time we
arrived in Porterville, we had two children and now we have four so we greatly extended
our family and the affordability in the Porterville area helped. The experience I gained
During his eight seasons at Porterville JC, Nessman took the Pirates
program to a new level. He accumulated 183 wins (again averaging more than 22
wins a season), including a run of 40 straight victories.
Between 1997 and 2000, the Pirates captured all three Central Valley
Conference championships which culminated with the California State Junior College
Championship in 2000. Nessman was also the athletic director and also served
as academic advisor during his time at Porterville; an amazing workload.
The constant change of players in a two-year program brought a number of
challenges to Nessmans court and classroom. Its a format he found both
tough yet motivating.
At the JC level, the resources are very limited, Nessman said.
The support resources for the athletes are non-existent essentially.
For a coach, it can be fatiguing. So it makes for some tough challenges. Most of the young
players that I have worked with were either at risk academically or had some sort of
struggle in their life. I found working with those individuals very rewarding
Few coaches placed more players in Division I basketball then Nessman
did during his tenure at both Porterville and Bakersfield College, where he began
coaching in 2001.
In all, 25 student athletes went onto Division I schools
with several others attending Division II colleges. Some of the names
that fans on the West Coast might remember are Carl Boyd (Cal), Mike MacKell (San Diego State), David Bell (Montana), and Derrick Allen (UCSB). More importantly, Nessman
graduated more than 90% of the sophomores he brought in during his time at
In moving back to the Bay Area this past month, Nessman is excited about
his career change. The drastic difference will be in the fact that he no longer has
to spend time in the classroom a change that has kept his desk almost too clean at
Nonetheless, Nessman fully understands that coaching is really an extension
of teaching. Hes eager to get started at Cal and is already getting comfortable with
recruiting, current players, and last years game tapes.
I felt that it was time for me to make a change and try something
different, Nessman said. The timing just made sense. What an
exciting thing to do as well, as I am still working with college players in an area that I
love. Its the place where I went to school and there are so many people I
already know here.
The deepest link between the current Cal program and Coach Nessman is his
longtime friendship with Louis Reynaud. He originally hired Reynaud as an assistant
after being named head coach at De La Salle.
After leaving for Porterville in 1993, Nessman saw his close friend
take the reins of the Spartans program to an even higher level.
Coach Nessman became familiar with California head coach Ben Braun during
Cal's recruitment of Carl Boyd. I have a high degree of familiarity with the people here,
Nessman said. "Ive known Lou (Coach Reynaud) since we were
teenagers, so that was a starting point. Ive always been familiar with
the program and the people. All those things were pluses and Im glad to be
He will be working in a wide variety of areas in his 1st
year coaching at Cal. Previously, he's worked in every facet of the college
game from recruiting to game preparation most of the time
with minimal help. Hes excited about the support here at Cal that he already
feels in his new position.
I feel comfortable in the aspect that Coach Braun wants me to do
whats made me successful so far," Nessman said. " So I plan to stick
with my strong points while learning about the program. Ill be involved with
recruiting, as well as post players for sure.
(Wed like to express our thanks to Coach Nessman for taking the
time to speak with us, and wish him well during his first season.)
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