Steve Ybarra Centennial track and field coach

Steve Ybarra is back as the Centennial track and field coach.

A familiar face is back at the helm of Centennial High track and field.

Steve Ybarra is the Coyotes’ new track and field coach, bringing with him a wealth of experience at the school and with its athletic teams.

Ybarra has taught at Centennial since 2000, and had stints as the track and field coach in years past, including coaching the boys to back-to-back championships in 2003 and 2004. He took several years off to coach soccer, but returned in the mid-2000s as a co-head coach, and eventually an assistant on the track and field team.

In 2016, Centennial hired a new coaching staff, and Ybarra was no longer a coach. He took a job coaching freshman softball and continued as the girls’ cross-country coach. He’s still leading the cross-country team in the fall.

Even busy with teaching and his other coaching positions, Ybarra said he always wanted to get back into track. He sprung at the opportunity when the spot became vacant.

Ybarra is focusing on improving the team. Centennial finished 14th in May’s AIA Division Two State Track and Field Championship. He believes there is a lot of potential to improve.

The first step is convincing the school’s best athletes to participate.

He has done everything, from attending other Centennial sporting events to getting information from physical education teachers on which students are faring well in class activities, such as the mile run, to find those most talented.

“When we got our best athletes out there, our kids that play other sports and do track, we can be pretty powerful, at least on the west side of town. I can use my experience to show the athletes they can excel and have them see the benefit of how it will help them in their other sports,” he said.

Principal William Sorenson said he was happy when he heard from the school’s athletic staff of the new hire.

He said every time he walks into a class or practice run by Ybarra, there is a noticeable positive energy he brings to the students, which hopefully will translate to the new athletic venture.

“He’s a beloved teacher on our campus, as well as coach for the different sports. It’s great for the students to have someone like him around in and out of the classroom and track,” Sorenson said.

Logging nearly 20 years as an integral part of Centennial has been a blessing for Ybarra. His goal now is to help Centennial capture the success of seasons past, and mold young boys and girls into solid adults for years to come.

“The staff and people I work with are tremendous (at Centennial),” Ybarra said. “I’ve always had a great relationship with the kids, and I can’t picture myself going anywhere else.”