Two weeks ago Atascadero High School inducted former boys head basketball coach Jerry Tamelier into the Atascadero Athletic Hall Of Fame. Tamelier led the Greyhounds from 1983 until he retired from both coaching and teaching in 2012. In those 29 years the Greyhounds went to the playoffs an astounding 19 times (65.5 percent of the time) and won six league titles. The Greyhounds Boys Basketball team won the Los Padres League Title two times in 1990,1999, and the PAC 8 Title four times in 2003, 2004, 2009 and 2011. Overall, he finished with a record of 349-282 (81 percent win percentage) during his tenure at Atascadero and his teams made it to the CIF Southern Section Semi-finals on two separate occasions, most recently in 2011.
His most distinguishable feature would undoubtedly be his mustache which he says he has had, “since my wife met me in the 70s.” It’s as iconic as any. It’s up there with the greats such as Burt Reynolds and Tom Selleck, but you are still more likely to hear his powerful voice and unmistakable laugh before you are even close enough to zero in on the glorious flavor savor position just under his nose. Tamelier has a jovial spirit about him and a great sense of humor that is infectious to all and that always had a way of rubbing off on the teams he coached. He was fun to be around and would make fun bets with his players, ask them about their lives, and connect with them.
“I was happy for Coach Tamelier when I heard he was inducted,” said Augie Johnson, a 2004 graduate who went on to play professionally in Germany. “He deserves it because he truly cares about his players and the program to the fullest. I can look back at my years playing for him and see all the extra things he did for us players.”
One of those fun bets coach Tamelier would make was that if any of his teams made it to twenty wins, they would be able to shave off his mustache.
“So whenever it happened, whether it happened before the playoffs or during the playoffs they would come out and shave my mustache,” Tamelier said. He spoke about when the 2011 team, which went 25-4 overall, shaved his mustache on a Thursday, and when he came back to practice on Monday he was wearing a fake one that he bought at a costume shop over the weekend (full story in a video interview posted on the Atascadero News Facebook page).
Out of all the great memories Tamelier has over the years, coaching his sons is one of his proudest.
“Well, you know there is challenges with that and perceptions, but they both worked really hard and I think by their senior year they were both really solid players,” he said. “It was something that I wanted to do and I always kind of feared that I’d watch someone else coach my sons and they would run a zone and run clearouts for the guy with the most facial hair, and that would be really hard for me to bear.”
Tamelier was a hands-on coach. Hayden Mislavsky played on the 2011 team and remembers, “He used to always be big on taking charges which was a lost art of the game, and to prove its worth he would always take a charge from the biggest dude on the team at age 50 plus and fall like a rock to show everyone the proper form.”
Tamelier retired in 2012 due to complications with his health. As the season progressed it became harder for him to interact with his players. He was forced to sit and teach from the sidelines. He would carry a stool with him at practice and finally decided that if he couldn't coach the way he always had that it was time to retire.
Tamelier decided that if he couldn't coach the way he always had that it wasn't fair to his players and stepped away from the game he loved so much, but it was his love for his players that resonated the most with them.
“Tamelier was one of the best high school coaches that I had,” said Weston Walker, who also played on the 2011 team. “He was a fair, straightforward coach. But even more than a coach he was a great person. On and off the court he cared about his players and you could see that reflected through his actions.”
Even though he has retired, he still hasn't stopped coaching or teaching. His booming laughter can still be heard echoing throughout the gym from time to time as he occasionally helps with the basketball team. You will still see him standing on the sidelines for every home football game on Friday nights. Today’s students will never have the pleasure of entering his history class down in the H-quad, but if they are lucky he might substitute for them, which he still does because, as he says, “I have to do something I can't just sit around the house, I have to go do something.”
His plaque will hang in the Atascadero Athletic Hall of Fame while his legacy is rooted deeply in the hearts of his players, students and every one he worked with.