PROVO — In terms of using the force in “Star Wars,” it would be considered submitting to the dark side when Timpview High announced the hiring of Provo graduate Kevin Santiago as the new boys basketball coach.
“That was part of the question that we asked him,” Timpview athletic director Al Polland said. “That’s like vinegar and oil — those two usually don’t mix.”
However, after a series of interviews with a committee comprised of players, parents, administration and faculty reps, Santiago was deemed the right candidate to replace Perry Wildeboer, who resigned after 14 years in late March.
“In the interview process he showed a lot of vision and energy and was really, really convincing to the committee that he was the guy that could take from where we were forward,” Polland said. “We kind of view it as a pretty darn successful program that needed some certain things that were missing in the program. Based on those criteria that we were looking for in the interview, we were pretty convinced that he had those type of things.”
The Thunderbirds were 240-79 under Wildeboer, including state titles in 2000, 2003 and 2010, but Timpview sought to address other areas with the hiring of Santiago.
“We’ve had a lot of success on the court,” Polland said, “but we’ve had some issues with working with other programs, being better in the public, reaching out to our younger kids coming through — those kind of things. We needed some very definite improvement in those areas.”
During the hiring process, Timpview focused on the success of Timpview graduate Quincy Lewis at Lone Peak. The Knights became the first team in Utah history to win three consecutive 5A state championships and were honored as national champions, and Lewis, whose father coached the Thunderbirds, was named National Coach of the Year.
“I’ll be perfectly honest, the connect between us and Lone Peak with Quincy (Lewis) being a graduate and his dad being the coach here, a lot of our community is looking over at the success of Lone Peak and trying to analyze the model that Quincy has used,” Polland said. “We weren’t doing any of that stuff, so that was a piece that we really looked at in that interview. We’re hoping that we can raise our stakes even higher than we’ve had. That really had a lot of play, especially with our parents.
“We just haven’t done some things in the community that made it feel that Timpview was reaching out to them,” Polland continued. “I think in the school, too, on our summer program and spring program we really needed a shot in the arm. We should have been involved with way more AAU stuff.”
Santiago played guard at BYU from 1988-92. He’s since spent several years coaching AAU programs and joined the Timpview staff last year as an assistant. This is his first head coaching position.
“His playing experience is superior,” Polland said. “He’s done years and years of coaching, but there was a little bit of question raised as regards to his high school coaching experience. I think legitimately I think that was a question. … We’re taking a little bit of a chance, but the other things outweigh that.”