Junior-college basketball is special for Aaron Landon.
He was a junior-college player for two years at Monterey Peninsula College in California and then coached at Santa Monica College, a two-year school near Los Angeles. He knows the ins and outs of recruiting junior-college student-athletes from his time as a player and a coach, making the choice to coach at the JC level “what I wanted to do.”
Landon, 31, is the new men’s basketball coach at South Puget Sound Community College, replacing Curtis Norwood, who resigned in March after coaching the Clippers for three seasons.
In addition to his coaching duties at SPSCC, Landon will be a campus educational planner.
He received his master’s degree in education from Concordia University in Portland, where he spent the past two seasons as an assistant men’s basketball coach. During his two-year tenure with the Cavaliers, an NAIA program, he recruited seven players from community college to play at the university.
Not only does he want to recruit the best high-school players to SPSCC, but getting players into four-year programs is a top priority. During his assistant
coaching stint at Santa Monica College (2007-08), the team’s sophomores had a 100 percent transfer rate to four-year schools.
“To see them go through that recruiting process, it really struck me as something I wanted to be around,” Landon said. “Every stop I made after that was unique and was really important to me, but it was all about building myself as a coach who can be successful at a community college level.”
Landon also spent three seasons as a varsity assistant coach for Marina High School in Marina, Calif. (2008-11) before going to Concordia.
The Davis, Calif., native earned his bachelor’s degree from the University of La Verne, where he wrapped up his basketball playing career after two years at Monterey Peninsula College.
He has long-term goals for the Clippers, who had a 4-21 record last season and failed to make the postseason tournament in the Northwest Athletic Association of Community Colleges conference.
Landon thinks it’s going to be a process to get the program on a winning track again, and that Olympia is where it’s going to start.
“It’s really exciting for me,” he said. “This is my long-term plan to settle down and build this and get this going.”
EVERGREEN HIRES SPOJA TO COACH VOLLEYBALL
The Evergreen State College has named the former Tacoma Community College coach, Angela Spoja, its new women’s volleyball coach. Spoja had a successful eight-year run at TCC, compiling a 155-60 record, including undefeated league records in 2007 and 2010.
Spoja, who lettered twice at Eastern Washington University, also oversees operations for The Edge and South Sound volleyball clubs in Tacoma.
The Geoducks went 0-27 overall and 0-18 in the Cascade Collegiate Conference last fall under Greg Spector, who resigned in November after two seasons.
BLACK HILLS’ SMITH, FAULKNER WIN NAIA TITLE
Black Hills alum Ryan Smith, now a junior at Faulkner University in Montgomery, Ala., helped pitch the Eagles to the NAIA baseball championship this past Thursday by defeating host Lewis-Clark State College of Lewiston, Idaho, 11-4. Smith, who graduated from Black Hills in 2010, went 2-0 in five starts with a 2.52 ERA for the 56-11 Eagles.Meg Wochnick: 360-754-5473 firstname.lastname@example.org theolympian.com/southsoundsports @MegWochnick