For the third time in as many years, the Erie boys basketball program is getting a new face in its head coaching position.
This time around, the new captain steering the Tigers’ ship is a familiar face who served the program as an assistant coach for years and has big plans for its future.
Welcome back, Jimmie Lucero.
“I’ve been coaching competitively for twelve years now,” Lucero said. “I was the varsity assistant at Erie for four years prior to this last year so I’ve been around the program. I just love this community and I’ve coached a lot of the boys on the varsity team since they were 8 years old. Combine all that with my love of coaching and love of the game, and it’s a great situation for me.”
Before his time at Erie, Lucero was a varsity assistant at Frederick. He has also been a media relations and scouting intern with the Denver Nuggets and still runs the NBA team’s scoreboard. Outside of high school and the pros, Luceros has coached club basketball for the Colorado Titans, Colorado Fire Elite, Colorado Force and NoCo Fury.
At Erie, Lucero will have a unique opportunity to coach a team he knows as well as his son Kael Lucero, who will be a senior in 2020-21.
“It’s awesome. It’s a dream for a dad,” Lucero said. “But to me, all these boys are my boys. So he’s not my son when I coach him and I probably go too far out of my way to not treat him like my kid. My goal is just to build excitement and continue to make sure this program does really good things.”
Despite the revolving door at its head coach position, Erie boys basketball has been a solid program trending upward. The Tigers have posted double-digit wins in each of the past four seasons and went 17-8 while advancing to the Class 4A Sweet 16 this past winter.
Following the 2019-20 campaign, then-head coach Gail Hook retired. She coached the Tigers for one year after taking over for Scott Melin, who was there for three.
Given the unusual circumstance under which Lucero was officially hired last Thursday, Erie athletic director Justin Carpenter said the current coronavirus-inspired quarantine allowed the Erie staff to vet its many candidates more vigorously than ever. Applicants submitted a virtual application that was reviewed by a committee of coaches and parents. Then each of the finalists had a WebEx meeting with current players.
“We were able to take our time a little bit more because no one is doing anything,” Carpenter said. “With that being the case, we were really able to vet out the process. It was a challenge but it was fun and we got to know the candidates better through this process than we have in the past.”
With its head coach vacancy filled, the Erie boys basketball program can now begin planning for a 2020-21 season for which the Tigers will return exactly half of this year’s 14-man varsity roster including four of their top six scorers. They’ll now also have a familiar face to lead them.
“Jimmie brings a familiar aspect to the program and he knows a lot of the kids,” Carpenter said. “Aside from knowing some of the current kids, he really gave us a vision for how to build a program. He really laid out a step-by-step plan for the long term.”