GNAC Spotlight: Azusa Pacific's Victor Santa Cruz
Santa Cruz's Cougars are picked to win it all again in the 2019 GNAC Preseason Coaches Poll.
Santa Cruz's Cougars are picked to win it all again in the 2019 GNAC Preseason Coaches Poll.
Victor Santa Cruz
Victor Santa Cruz

Friday, September 6, 2019

Part of a regular series.

Throughout the year, uses this space to profile conference student-athletes, coaches, and administrators. Collectively, it is these individuals who make the GNAC one of the top NCAA Division II athletic conferences in the nation.

Name: Victor Santa Cruz
Institution: Azusa Pacific
Hometown: Vista, California
Colleges Attended: University of Hawaii at Manoa (1995), Azusa Pacific (2010)
Degrees: B.A. Economics, M.A. Organizational Leadership

When Did You Decide You Wanted To Become A Coach (And Why)?: After having spent a year in private business, I decided in 1996 that coaching was a calling for me. My passion and time seemed to be drawn towards coaching opportunities. My wife saw that I was miserable in my corporate position and encouraged me to jump into coaching. I immediately applied at the local high school for a coaching position. After getting the job that paid pennies, I got a job that fit my coaching schedule at a local pet store, packing dog food. It’s one of the best decisions I've ever made.

What Do You Remember About Your First Coaching Position?: My first position was at El Camino High School in Oceanside, California. What I remember most was the thrill of helping players to achieve a level of success that they took great pride in. It was a blast!

Who Has Had The Biggest Influence On Your Coaching Career (Please Describe Why)?: I've been fortunate to have played and coached under some very influential coaches. However, Peter Shinnick has had the biggest influence on my coaching career. Peter gave me my first college coaching position and has helped to mentor me throughout my head coaching tenure. He is currently the head football coach at the University of West Florida.

Biggest Obstacle Overcome As A Coach: The biggest obstacle I've overcome as a coach is learning to lead with my own emotions while learning to listen and respect the emotional needs of my organization. People need to know the “why?” first. The “why?” starts as an emotional objective.

What Do You Do To Get A Break From Your Professional Responsibilities?: I don't have hobbies. Leading a college football program is a 24/7 job. When away from my office, I choose to spend time with my family. I only have so many moments to raise my kids. I want to make the most of them.

What Does Division II Mean To You?: Division II is all about opportunity. The level allows the student-athlete to compete at a high level without missing all that the academic world has to offer them while in college.

Best Advice You Would Give To Student-Athletes: If the habits and skills that football requires in becoming a champion don't transfer to life outside of football then it's all a waste. Football is one of the greatest crucible experiences that a young man can have in his life. But if it's only for football, then the time playing was only an experience and you've missed the transformation.

If You Could Spend The Day With One Person (Past Or Present), Who Would It Be (And Why)?: Other than Jesus, I'd love to spend the day with Bono, the lead singer of U2. I really dig his music. I would love to ask him about so many of U2's lyrics. Can you make that happen for me?

Favorite Sports Team: Azusa Pacific and the Los Angeles Dodgers.

Favorite Athlete: Mike Singletary. I love how that man played the game.

Most Memorable Sports-Related Moment: Beating Grand Valley State in our opening game of 2014. This little private Christian school shocked the world on CBS Sports.

What Is Your Favorite Thing About Being A Part Of The GNAC?: The competition. All of our programs field teams that compete. There are no easy Saturdays in the fall.

One Thing People Don't Know About You Is: When the scholarship offers all faded during my senior year of high school, I made plans to go to a fashion design school. Two weeks later, the University of Hawaii offered me. What a fork in the road.