He’s a familiar face around Dixon, especially in local football circles, and now he’s back to coach the Dixon High School Rams Junior Varsity Team.
Lifelong Dixonite Toodie Gomez has been involved in football for most of his life as both a player and a coach. Gomez, 64, has picked up much knowledge from his years of playing the sport he loves and coaching alongside the likes of Ira “Red” Finney and Archie Yelle.
“I am really excited about this year, once the dust settles and once everyone calms down, starts finishing up their vacations, come August kids will start coming out,” Gomez said. “Also on both the Varsity and the JV level we have some very good talent.”
Coach Gomez as he’s known among the many players he’s coached throughout the years, isn’t wasting any time in getting his team ready for the season. So far this summer, Gomez and his fellow coaches have participated in a three-day football camp in Woodland.
The JV Rams worked on team drills and held scrimmages against the other school in attendance at the camp including Winters, Placer, Pierce and Pioneer high schools.
“We did really well,” Gomez said “After the camp we had started, the following week, in the weight room. We are doing weightlifting. I had anywhere from 22 to 25 players coming out for weightlifting and conditioning.”
Coach Gomez, who before accepting the job as JV Coach at DHS was a defensive coach at Winters High School, has chosen his coaching staff including two of his former players Jason Chadwick and Troy Short, along with Dixon Youth Football Coach Mitch Bunch.
“They don’t have a lot of experience, but that’s OK, I will walk them through,” Gomez said.
Gomez, who is the current athletic director of Dixon Youth Football and is also a midget’s division team coach, said he anticipates this year’s JV team to be flush with freshmen.
“I’m really excited at the fact that we have a lot of freshmen coming out and it’s going to be a freshmen-dominated team,” he said.
So far, only a few sophomores have come out to participate, Gomez said, a fact that concerns him. At the end of last season, a lot of the JV players vowed to not play for anyone except former JV Coach Troy Hensley.
Hensley was not asked to return to the JV Team to coach and many of his players openly said they would not return to play football for the Rams if Coach Hensley was not their coach.
Asked about the lack of sophomores who have so far participated during the off-season Coach Gomez said: “There’s a lot of concern about it. I basically have the word out and I will not contact them personally because they know what’s going on and I’m going to leave it up to them. I’m not going to be a pushy coach. They need to discover it themselves. I really don’t like a player who’s out there because he thinks he has to be out there. I want them to be out there because they love the sport. I do my recruiting by my coaching style.”
When asked if the firing of Coach Hensley had anything to do with the lack of sophomores on his team so far he said: “It might have but I won’t step into that political arena because it’s not part of me, it’s not part of the game. I answer to my head coach, I answer to the parents and I answer to the kids involved in the sport. I know Troy personally; he’s a good coach. Unfortunately what’s happened to him happened to him. I have no comment of what happened to him other than it’s a decision made by the administration. Back in the day it didn’t make a difference who the coach was, if you love the game, you would play. And that’s something that I learned from Coach Finney and something that I definitely learned from Arch Yelle.”
Coach Gomez said he wants to focus on the tradition of winning, brotherhood and being a prideful member of the Dixon Rams. It’s a tradition that Gomez has been a part of for most of his life.
Gomez played football for the DHS Rams, and went on to play at both Solano Community College and Sacramento State University. Gomez also played semi-pro ball for two years.
Coach Gomez got involved in coaching at the behest of Red Finney he said.
“I started coaching with Ira Red Finney as a DB coach,” he said. “And then I left and then I got back into coaching in the ‘80s, 82 and 83 at the JV level. I started at the JV level and worked my way up."
In 1990, Gomez joined the Rams varsity coaching staff as a defensive coordinator under then-coach Rod Wallace. Towards the end of the ‘90s, Coach Gomez made a move to Vanden High School, where he coached for five years before making yet another move to Contra Costa College to coach the defensive line.
He got a call from Winters High School about four years ago, and in 2008 he went to work in Winters, first as a JV coach, then being an assistant coach for the varsity squad.
“I really liked it over there and then they changed coaches again,” he said. “Coach Besseghini, he called me up and asked if I was interested in coming back. I took me a while to decide, but I told him that I would and I would love to be part of his coaching staff.”
Coach Gomez’ expertise doesn’t end on the football field. He has also coached baseball at Dixon High School and is looking forward to leading the JV team this upcoming season.
“I just like coaching the kids,” he said. “I like to be involved with the kids. It goes beyond coaching sometimes, it gets very personal.”
This year, Coach Gomez gets the opportunity to coach one of his sons, Micah, on the JV team, he said. Micah and his teammates will have a tough season ahead of them and certain demands placed on them Gomez said.
"I coach at my players to be number one, to be disciplined, to be committed to the sport or to anything that they are in,” he said. “What I ask of them as a coach is teamwork. Teamwork is so important. A team isn’t a team if they can’t play together. I’m not a yeller or a screamer at the kids. I am a motivator.”