ATWATER -- It took Jason Boesch four years to turn the Atwater girls basketball program into a playoff team.
Now he'll try his hand with the boys.
Atwater athletic director Roddy Svendsen announced on Tuesday morning that Boesch will be the new head coach of the boys basketball program.
"It's not very often that you find someone with the combination of ability to coach, knowledge of the game and somebody who can create a fabulous rapport with athletes," Svendsen said. "That's what Jason brings to whatever program he coaches.
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"He was a very distinguished athlete. He's a good athlete but a good teacher, too, and that's what is important."
Boesch, 37, assumes a position left vacant by John Kane, who resigned March 2 after 17 years with the program to spend more time with his family.
Kane was just 29-98 in the last five years, including 10-15 this past winter.
Boesch emerged from a "pool of qualified candidates" during the Merced Union High School District's intra-district search, Svendsen said, preferring not to disclose the number of candidates.
"Jason being a known quantity was, in our view, the best candidate," Svendsen added.
This will be Boesch's fourth post in a decade-long coaching career. He began as an assistant under varsity boys coach Angelo Naldi in Livingston and coached the Waterford boys to the playoffs before returing to his alma mater.
All the while, he had his eye on the Atwater gig.
"When I started 10 years ago, this was the job I originally wanted. So I'm excited -- that's obvious," said Boesch, a 1991 graduate. "I've gotten stuff started. I'm getting my coaches lined up and my system going."
Boesch's main goal is to put Atwater basketball back on the Central California Conference and Sac-Joaquin Section radars.
And to do it, he's added a familiar name. Former Atwater boys coach Gary Parreira will join Boesch's staff.
Parreira coached Boesch during his senior year at Atwater. That season, Atwater finished second in the CCC and reached the quarterfinal round of the Division I playoffs at Arco Arena.
Atwater lost to eventual champion Kennedy.
"As a coach, that's your goal. Nobody wants to be average. This is program I played in. It's something I want to see have enormous success," Boesch said. "It's going to take a lot of work and time. We have to have the kids buy into the system.
"There's nothing more that I want than to have CCC championships and have Atwater basketball be a dominant force."
Atwater returns eight juniors, including All-Area point guard Eriq Belt. The 5-foot-7-inch playmaker averaged 19.5 points a game and will be the centerpiece in Boesch's "Go" offense.
Boesch was a decorated three-sport athlete at Atwater High in the 1990s and was recently inducted into the Atwater High Hall of Fame.
He steps away from a girls program on the rise. Atwater clinched its first playoff appearance in six years, falling to Vallejo 98-53 in the first round.
"It's difficult. I called the girls in and told them that I had applied for it. There was a lot of emotion there," Boesch said.
"That's going to be a good group next year. I feel good that they're on the right path, no matter who takes that job."
Svendsen said the search for a new girls coach will start immediately.
"We are really serious about it," Svendsen said. "Anytime we taste success, we want to keep it going."
Boesch did it with the girls.
Now it's the boys' turn.
James Burns is managing editor/sports editor of the Sun-Star. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.