Rocklin High says goodbye to beloved coach
Rocklin High School English teacher and cross-country coach Daniel Pereira announced in January that the 2017 season was his last.
Pereira dedicated 28 years to cross-country, having competed as an athlete for nine years and coached at Rocklin for the past 19 years, so his retirement marks the end of an era – in Pereira’s life and in the team’s story.
In this era under Pereira’s leadership, the team made four state appearances and won one section title, one runner-up title and five boys league titles. When Pereira served as an assistant coach in 2005, the boys placed fourth at state with two all-state runners.
Pereira’s decision to retire came after years of deliberation, which began when his two oldest children became involved in their own sports activities, including basketball and cross-country.
To ensure he was there for his family, Pereira started co-coaching with ceramics and art teacher Chris Knorzer, who first coached at the school in 1995-97, and returned to coaching both cross-country and distance track for the past seven years.
“Me stepping in was really more of a way for (Pereira) to spend more time with his family,” said Knorzer. “I took over all of the training initially and then eventually became a co-head coach because I was taking on a greater role each year.”
Pereira hoped these changes would make it easier for him to both coach and parent, but he continued to notice how much coaching still affected his engagement at home and in the classroom.
“I was still putting in a ton of time – as I should,” Pereira said. “You know, when you do anything, you’re going to do it 100 percent. And so I just realized it was my time.”
Pereira emailed Thunder cross-country athletes and their families to inform them of his decision.
“This program has been a second family to me and I will never be able to thank you enough for all your support and hard work,” he wrote.
Pereira is confident about the decision, but will miss cross-country.
“I’ll miss interacting with students in a different way, you know, other than just the classroom,” Pereira said. “I will miss the rush that I get cheering … I’m going to miss the competition and the cheering and inspiring.”
And his athletes, like girls cross-country captain Pearl Burton, will miss Pereira’s coaching as well. Burton, who will be a senior this season, helped lead the girls team to Rocklin’s first appearance at the state championships.
“I’ll miss him because he was always a friend and a coach because you could make jokes with him, but also be able to be serious and talk about how you could improve,” Burton said. “He was always there for anyone who needed their spirits lifted.”
Despite the goodbyes that must be said, Pereira is quick to welcome this new phase for the team, quick to encourage adaptability and growth through change.
“I hope for change,” he said. “Even since I’ve been involved with the program, it’s changed and it’s been for the better. So I hope for continued change … (Coach Knorzer) will bring in new things, and I am excited for what a new perspective will bring.”
Knorzer, likewise, anticipates continued strength in the program.
“The roots are really strong,” Knorzer said. “People can steal the fruit, but you have the roots … so the future’s looking really good.”