Going into year twenty five as a head coach is quite the accomplishment in a profession that lacks longevity. Staying at the same college in the same profession gives you an idea about the loyalty of an individual. Jerry Hernandez has has been the leader of the mens basketball program at Irvine Valley College since 1995. The Lasers have been to post season 15 times, and he has put together over 450 wins in the same time span. “I have been blessed to get a job like this,” said Hernandez when asked about his longevity. The long time Lasers coach can remember when he first got the job and his office being empty and also recalled almost giving it up at the age of 36. Now 25 years later, he has developed not only a culture but also being one of the classiest coaches in the game. “We want our guys to be respectful to your teammates, coaches, teachers on and off campus,” said Hernandez when asked about the culture. The veteran head coach mentioned academics and being responsible as well when it comes to traits about his program that are non negotiable.
Even before being head coach on the sidelines Hernandez was gaining valuable experience as an assistant coach. Hernandez was an assistant coach at Cerritos College and worked for legendary coach Jack Bogdanovic. The experience has helped Irvine Valley be a competitive force in one of the toughest conferences in the state. “It is a very competitive conference and the coaching within the conference is one of a kind,” added Hernandez when asked about the Orange Empire Conference competition. Each season you can find schools from the Orange Empire playing deep into the post season as its like a post season when teams play each other within conference. “If our kids can be successful here in our conference, then you have a chance to be successful at the four year level,” added the Lasers head coach. The four year level has been a familiar place that Laser players go after transferring from Irvine Valley. Hernandez has moved on over 100 players at the junior college level with almost 40 going division one under his watch. The head coach has saw a difference in moving guys on from when he first started to the times that we are in today. “It is more challenging moving guys on as the media, marketing and prep schools have hurt moving guys on,” said Hernandez. The international game has got bigger and more international players are coming to American universities.
As the 2021-2022 season comes closer, the Irvine Valley program will look to find on and off the court success. The on court success saw the Lasers finish the 2019-2020 season with a 17-13 record and Irvine Valley picked up a first round playoff win before losing in the 2nd round to Santa Monica. Off the court is where the success means the most to the Lasers head coach. “I want our players to earn a degree and be prepared for life,” said Hernandez. The biggest joy to the head coach is seeing his players come back after being away from program. “When guys come back, that is the ultimate achievement,” added the Lasers head coach.