BIG CHIEF: Juan Cipriano the man behind the Warriors’ success

SANTA ROSA — With their trip back to the UIL state tournament this week, the Santa Rosa Warriors have established themselves as arguably the Valley’s most successful basketball program.

Credit to that success can be given to the athletes, of course. But the true mastermind behind the program is head coach Juan Cipriano.

In Cipriano’s run as the Warriors’ leader, the program has won 13 straight district titles, made the playoffs 15 times and, most importantly, made it to the state tournament twice.

Before he became the head coach in 2001, Cipriano was a part of a Santa Rosa squad that qualified for the regional quarterfinals twice before he graduated in 1992.

“I played shooting guard on the varsity since my sophomore year and was a part of some great teams,” he said. “My senior year we didn’t make it to the regional tournament, so that’s when I decided to not be an accountant and come back to coach for the Warriors.”

Cipriano went on to attend the University of Texas-Pan American where he obtained his degree in kinesiology.

Being a man of his word, Cipriano returned to his alma mater in 1997 with hopes of renewing the culture of Santa Rosa basketball.

“I wanted the basketball program to have some consistency in not hiring a new coach every year,” he said. “I didn’t think it was fair to the kids who loved basketball to learn a completely new concept or scheme every year, so that was part of the reason of why I came back.”

Cipriano admits that growing up in Santa Rosa has helped him become a better coach and mentor to his athletes.

“I understand what some of these kids may be going through in their life,” he said. “I love coaching these kids. I always felt Santa Rosa has had great kids throughout the years and my experience has been really good for the most part.”

The Warriors face Dallas Madison in the UIL Class 3A state semifinals at 1:30 p.m. on Thursday at the Alamodome in San Antonio.