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Don Arax Talks About His New Football Job at Visalia's Central Valley Christian
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By Edward Smith
Published 1 month ago on
April 17, 2024

Central Valley Christian School hired former Bullard High football coach Don Arax to take over its highly successful program. (GV Wire Composite/Paul Marshall)

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The life of a football coach means long hours, says Don Arax, new football head coach at Central Valley Christian School.

But despite adding to those hours with a commute from his home in Fresno to the school in Visalia, he relishes the opportunity to again be coaching young athletes.

“I’m going to a school of just shy of 400 kids, and so a lot of the things that have become common at public schools aren’t present here. It’s a real culture shift for me that I’m looking forward to,” said Arax, who coached for 24 years at Bullard High School.

Arax Takes Over a Successful Program

Starting a coaching position in April is a little late, Arax said. He’s building his staff at the private K-12 and is almost done. Unlike when he started at Bullard in 2000, he is walking into an already successful program.

In the last two years, the Division II Central Valley Christian suffered only two losses. The school has won against powerhouses such as Stockdale and Clovis North.

Last year, Central Valley Christian won the California Interscholastic Federation division final against Los Gatos High. After the season, Central Valley’s previous head coach, Mason Hughes, took a coaching position at College of the Sequoias.

Upon taking over at Bullard in 2000, Arax asked his friends how long it would take for the northwest Fresno school to be competitive against the Clovis Unified powers, and they said it wouldn’t happen.

However, the Knights won seven league championships and two section titles.

“It had been in an 18-year spiral,” Arax said. “We turned that thing around and became an elite program.” He added that success began in the weight room.

“That weight room culture was big for us, getting the kids to play hard and the most important thing was making the kids tough,” Arax said. “When I look back, if someone were to ask me ‘what’s one thing that Bullard football teams were known for?’ It was our toughness.”

Controversy Followed Arax’s Later Career

In the middle of the 2023 football season, Fresno Unified ended Arax’s role as football coach. Fresno Unified never said why it released him.

In May 2022, Fresno Unified Trustee Keshia Thomas accused Arax of making a racial slur against her son when played football for Arax. He denied the accusation and filed a defamation lawsuit against Thomas.

Arax wouldn’t comment on the suit but did say that 24 years is a long time to coach at one school, and things work out for a reason.

“It’s always tough when you’ve put so much effort into that school,” Arax said. “I mean, I really put my (energy) into that football program, in that school, and that community.”

Also during Arax’s tenure, social media posts surfaced of a Bullard student with material wrapped around his head that resembled a Ku Klux Klan hood. The photo was taken in the Bullard High weight room.

The post prompted walk-outs from students across the district demanding action against was described as a culture that protects racism.

Arax said that smart phones have “quite frankly destroyed kids.”

“We’re not really helping kids by, you know, in our country, by making kids victims,” Arax said. “I mean, we have to love them all we can, but we have to give them the discipline because we’re going to send them out in the real world and they’re not going to be able to compete.”

Arax: ‘I Can’t Think of a Better Place’

At 59, Arax says he works out everyday. That will allow him to stay at Central Valley Christian for many years, he said. Maintaining the school’s winning pedigree and helping kids will be his measure of success.

“I can’t think of a better place to finish my teaching and coaching career,” Arax said. “I’m sitting here right now looking at the football fields. You know, we never had a stadium (at Bullard). We had to deal with facility issues, all kinds of issues. Here, I’m looking forward to just concentrating on being a football coach.”

 

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Edward Smith,
Multimedia Journalist
Edward Smith began reporting for GV Wire in May 2023. His reporting career began at Fresno City College, graduating with an associate degree in journalism. After leaving school he spent the next six years with The Business Journal, doing research for the publication as well as covering the restaurant industry. Soon after, he took on real estate and agriculture beats, winning multiple awards at the local, state and national level. You can contact Edward at 559-440-8372 or at Edward.Smith@gvwire.com.

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