Saddleback women’s basketball plans to make a comeback

Kayla De Leon jumps to score a three-point jump shot during the 2017 season | Ally Beckwitt

Saddleback Athletics plans for women’s basketball to return for the 2023-24 season.

With the help of recruiting players from other colleges, along with high schoolers who have committed to playing, the future of women’s basketball is promising.

“The only sport that didn’t have a season this year was women’s basketball and that was due to a lack of interest in the community,” said athletics operation manager Brett Franchino.

Although the 2022-23 season was canceled, other colleges did not cancel their seasons. With many CIF recruiting rules in place, the plan is to wait until the season has ended before any decisions can be made. 

Costs and numbers of student interest seemed to be the common issue for why there was no 2022-2023 season. 

“The costs have gone up across the board,” Franchino said. “Referees are more expensive, transportation is more expensive, uniforms are more expensive. Getting inventory for athletic equipment and uniforms is harder. It used to take two months and now it takes six.”

A few recent changes for Saddleback include an increased number of students back on campus, along with a new head coach for the team. 

Mario Trutanic was announced as the new head coach for women’s basketball on May 25, 2022. 

According to Saddleback Athletics, Trutanic recently was an assistant coach at the University of Redlands. The team won the Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference championship for the 2021-22 season and he was a part of being named Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference Coaching-Staff-of-the-Year. 

“I am grateful and blessed for the opportunity to lead the women’s basketball program at Saddleback College,” Trutanic said. “I am excited to build a program that will develop successful young women in the classroom, on the court, and in the community. We will foster a culture of hard work, toughness, and discipline that will create a tradition of success.”

When it comes to having a sports team of successful leaders and scholars, team building both on and off the court is highly prioritized. As of recently, the on-campus environment is growing and more students are attending classes in person.

“We will be back up and running this year with a women’s basketball team,” said Franchino.