Women's basketball coach Joe Peron concluded his 19th season in charge of the Lancers with a 17-12 record. Peron has the longest current tenure of any PCC athletics head coach.(Scott Spencer/ Courier)
Women’s basketball coach Joe Peron concluded his 19th season in charge of the Lancers with a 17-12 record. Peron has the longest current tenure of any PCC athletics head coach.(Scott Spencer/ Courier)

As Lady Lancer’s basketball coach Joe Peron’s office door opens, visitors can get drawn into gazing at the memorabilia on the wall that gives a small insight into a legacy that is 19 seasons in the making.

The championship-winning coach exudes a positive glow. With a twinkle in his eye and a joyous smile, he recollects how his coaching career has transpired, but more importantly at how his basketball program has developed its players to blossom into better people who have established successful careers and fulfilled lives.

One question changed Peron’s life forever: “Joe, do you want to prolong your career in basketball?”

The seemingly simple question was asked by George Terzian, Peron’s former coach and longtime mentor, who was referring to coaxing his student into playing point guard the following season due to the surplus of forwards who towered over Peron by four to five inches. Peron was hesitant to say the least.

“I never dribbled a basketball for the most part in my life outside of the paint,” he said.

This didn’t deter Terzian and Peron, as they worked together for two hours a day for two months over the summer to help him switch positions. The sacrifices both men made eventually paid off the following season when Peron started at point guard and was part of the historic PCC team that was defeated in the 1983 state championship.

The question Terzian posed to Peron enable his protégé to gain a scholarship to Biola University as a point guard and he also played multiple positions due to his experience playing various roles at PCC.

Even after graduation Peron kept on coming back to his junior college stomping ground, which gave the John Muir high school product an opportunity to be the assistant coach of the Lancers men’s basketball team in 1990-91.

Bank of America wanted the 25-year-old Peron to coach a girl’s team from Pasadena over the summer while he was running basketball camps for girls and boys. Peron wasn’t interested and was consequently pursued by BOA for over a month and then they made the enticing offer of $5,000, which forced Peron to give in.

Two years later, Greg Smith, the Lancer’s women’s basketball coach tried to lure Peron on to his coaching staff with the proviso that he bring a few players from the Pasadena summer team, but Peron felt that it would be a tough ask since “the girls are only playing for me because they get free stuff” and he didn’t want to coach women’s basketball or coach with Smith for that matter.

Smith eventually swayed Peron to be his assistant coach, who brought two players with him, while turning his back on men’s basketball and getting paid $5,000 out of Smith’s pocket.

“But it wasn’t for a month, it was for the whole year,” said Peron.

“My second year here, I caught the fire of coaching women’s basketball at PCC and that year we went 26-3, my second year coaching with coach Smith,” said Peron. “That’s when I started liking and loving coaching women’s basketball, 19 seasons ago.”

Upon looking back at all the memories Peron has accumulated throughout his career at PCC, the thing that springs to mind is what Smith reminded him in jest.

“You know you’re screaming at the kids the way you said you don’t like coaches do,” Smith said.

Peron is grateful to Smith for emphasizing the importance of communicating to his players in a way that would get them to immerse themselves into learning the game of basketball.

“Coach Smith helped me to cater that and be more of a communicator as a coach and to work with these young ladies, them wanting to learn more and grasp the fundamentals of basketball and understanding how basketball works,” said Peron.

Freshman Judith Espinoza, this season’s point guard sensation who finished second in the state in assists and made the All-South Coast North conference team, appreciated the technical advice Peron gave her throughout the season that allowed her to flourish. But she feels that the connection they made contributed largely to her producing a breakout season.

“Creating that relationship with him off the court I felt really made the connection on the court stronger,” Espinoza said. “I knew I was able to count on him with whatever.”

Peron’s coaching record of 451-137 speaks for itself—he coached the first women’s sporting team at PCC to a California Community College’s Association state title in 2008-09 and his team has appeared in the state championships seven consecutive times from 2004-10 and appeared in the state championship game three times (2004, 2005 and 2009).

Peron, currently the longest tenured athletic coach at PCC, compiled a dream run of stringing together 24 or more game wins each season over a nine year period (2002-2012) and accumulated 25 or more wins eight times.

“Of course those winning streaks we’ve had [stand out], beating some of these highly rated teams,” said Peron, who coached and developed 44 players who went on to receive athletic scholarships at four year colleges.

When Peron started overseeing the women’s basketball program, PCC was ranked poorly at No. 79 in the state out of 80 teams. His inspirational and dedicated coaching style yielded a massive turnaround, with the Lancers leaping into the top 10 two years later and remaining there ever since.

It means a lot to Peron that his program has generated enormous success for PCC over a long period of time.

“It’s been great moving up the ladder and PCC basketball team being a recognized basketball team across the state and even across the country as a phenomenal team that you have to prepare for,” said Peron.

Sophomore guard Emily Thach acknowledged that Peron is renowned for guiding his team to improved mental toughness and he has a talent for squeezing maximum potential out of his players.

“Off the court he is a really goofy man, but on the court you can tell that he really loves his job and he really loves to do whatever it takes to win,” Thach said. “If you have a coach like that, who wouldn’t want to play for him?”

The success that Peron sees as the most invaluable is playing a crucial role in guiding his players and students onto four-year universities that provide them with the tools to pursue careers that they love.

“I’d like it to be remembered as a program that these young ladies matriculated through here and they were one of the top programs that helped girls move on to the 4-year level.” Peron said.

“But I like to see them graduate and get on with their careers and that’s what makes me happy.”

 

 

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