On the first day of school, the Estancia High boys' basketball team lost its coach — for at least a season.
Agustin Heredia has taken a one-year leave of absence from the program because of personal reasons, Tim Parsel, the boys' athletic director, said Tuesday. Last season was Heredia's fifth in charge of his alma mater's team.
"He said he needs to take some time off," Parsel said. "He would like for us to keep the door open and we will. We agreed to give him at least a year."
In the meantime, Parsel said Estancia has to act quickly in its search for an interim coach. Parsel said he has yet to talk to Heredia's top assistant, Carlos Beltran, about the position.
One coach Parsel said he has communicated with is Xavier Castellano. The school might have to turn to its girls' coach to take over the boys' team for Heredia.
"He would like to be the boys' coach," Parsel said of Castellano, adding that Castellano would also continue as the girls' coach, a position he has held the past four seasons.
Parsel said it would take a special coach to lead two programs because of scheduling conflicts with games and practices.
"You would need strong assistants," Parsel said.
"We're going to try to find someone on campus in the next two weeks."
Heredia, a teacher at TeWinkle Intermediate, joined the Eagles as a walk-on coach.
Five years ago, Heredia said he returned to Estancia, which was coming off a 2-24 season, to restore its tradition.
The Eagles never enjoyed the kind of success Heredia earned as a player 23 years ago, when he won a CIF Southern Section Division 3-AA title, but he made the program competitive again.
Only once did his teams finish with an overall losing record. While the Eagles never finished better than second place in the Orange Coast League, they made the postseason five times, including two second-round trips.
The most recent season was arguably Heredia's best and toughest. The team began league play shorthanded after four players left.
On a team with only eight players, Estancia (17-12, 7-3 in league) managed to clinch the league's No. 2 playoff berth after edging rival Costa Mesa, 33-32, in the final game of the regular season. The Eagles went on to beat Covina Gladstone, 44-43, in the first round of the Division 3A playoffs.
The victory would give Heredia his most wins in a season as coach at Estancia.
Seven months later, right around the Labor Day holiday weekend, he decided to take time off from coaching.
When reached via text Tuesday morning, Heredia responded with, "Real busy at work." He couldn't talk.
The first day of school is always a big adjustment, and it will be for players at Estancia without their old coach this upcoming season.