David Chiono has been one of the leading forces behind the Marysville High School athletic department for over two decades.
He has seen teams win championships, build programs and recently navigate a global public health crisis that shut down the MHS sports department during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Chiono, 61, is retiring at the end of the year from his role as athletic director – a role that he served in for 25 years.
“I have been able to meet some amazing people, coaches, student-athletes and parents,” Chiono said in an email. “It is rewarding to see programs grow and succeed not only on the field, but see our athletes grow in the classroom. It is rewarding to be able to overcome obstacles and still field competitive programs the right way and within the rules.”
Chiono led the Marysville athletic program during the COVID-19 pandemic – a difficult situation that led to tough decisions. One decision that he and administration officials had to face was during the 2020-21 year when sports had already been paused and rescheduled multiple times, and there was a rehabilitated effort to bring a modified version of the 2020 football season back in the spring of 2021.
Many teams in the mid-valley opted into the plan for a five-game season with no playoffs. Marysville was one of a few area schools that did not participate, because as Chiono said at the time, it would be too difficult to work football into the spring schedule.
“We did not feel (we) would get to the level to play a competitive schedule without destroying other spring sports,” Chiono said in February 2021.
During his tenure at Marysville, Chiono has always had the student’s best interests at heart. The Indians returned to a full season in the fall of 2021 under interim coach Jordan Holmes and went 5-5.
As Chiono prepares to step down from his post, he feels he is leaving the program in good hands from both a competitive and health and safety standpoint.
“Marysville is experiencing unprecedented success in many programs and we are rebuilding in others,” Chiono said. “We have seen about a four percent decrease in the number of athletes from pre-COVID to today, which I think is not too bad. Our number of participants is very high for a school our size. We were able to continue to provide our athletes with physical training (within the COVID rules) during the pandemic.”
Chiono, with the help of Athletic Trainer DJ Desmond, installed an innovative outdoor training facility where athletes could train safely during the pandemic.
“A huge reason for that was our trainer,” Chiono said. “We purchased training equipment and Desmond was able to develop safety protocols and an outdoor training facility that kept our athletes safe. We have a tremendous staff of coaches – not only are they good coaches, but also good people.”
Chiono was also a coach before he became an administrator. He worked alongside current varsity baseball coach Bill Rollins.
“Dave and I coached baseball together for seven years in addition to working alongside him as our athletic director,” said Rolllins, whose current baseball team is making its first trip to the Sac-Joaquin Section Division IV final since 1983. “He is a tireless worker that tries to keep the best interests of the students at the forefront. When I needed someone to speak to or bounce an idea off he was always there to provide support.”
Marcy Tarr, another individual retiring from Marysville athletics at the end of the year, said Chiono went above and beyond his duties at Marysville.
“I feel he fulfilled his duties as head of athletics during the COVID-era by setting clear and followable guidelines for both practices and competitions,” said Tarr, Marysville’s cross country and track and field coach.
Tarr said Chiono set clear-cut instructions for all his coaches on how to operate during the height of the pandemic.
“He encouraged me to reach out to and communicate with all my athletes however possible. Chiono allowed me as a coach to write up daily workouts for my athletes, and in some cases meet with them on the track where we could keep a safe distance from each other just to hold a practice. He encouraged this not only to keep my athletes fit, but to also check on them emotionally and give them a sense of social interaction that they otherwise were not experiencing.”
While Chiono is retiring, he said there are some things he’d like to see happen at the school down the road.
“I have yet to convince our district and school board that athletics is the only district program that can leverage participation in sports for better attendance, better behavior and better grades,” Chiono said. “We have proven this is so.”
He also has been campaigning, without success, for equal facilities among the men’s and women’s programs.
“I have failed to convince the powers that be that we need to pay attention to the condition of all facilities,” Chiono said. “Our track is 90 years old and nearly unusable and our gym floor is 43 years old – and by all measures very dangerous. We have not provided a safe practice or playing facility for our winter soccer programs.”
Chiono feels that the athletic director position needs to be made a full-time position moving forward.
“When I started, I probably had 20 duties and now it is easily over 50 clear-cut duties and responsibilities,” Chiono said. “If the district would restructure how things are done, it would save money and reduce the workload of the staff at the high school level.”
Will Claggett, Marysville’s new football coach, said that the student-athlete needs to be the priority with any athletic program.
“Sometimes, we make it more difficult for our athletes and I think we should do everything we can to support kids who want to play sports,” Claggett said.