Cameron Goeldner | News-Bulletin photo

Jesse Hathoot, seen here coaching at Los Lunas, will be the next head coach of the Valencia boys basketball program.

The search for the next head coach of the Valencia Jaguars boys’ basketball program didn’t travel far.

Jesse Hathoot, an assistant coach at Los Lunas, has been named the next head coach of the Jaguars, athletic director Wilson Holland announced last week.

He replaces Josh Mattox, who left last month for a job at the University of the Southwest in Hobbs.

Hathoot has been an assistant at Los Lunas for the last 11 years, including all nine of the program being led by Travis Julian, who Hathoot credits with helping him develop as a coach.

“I owe a great deal of gratitude and appreciation to coach Julian and everyone at Los Lunas, the current and past administrations,” Hathoot said. “(Julian) gave me a lot of freedom and a lot of opportunities to develop as a coach and a person, I wouldn’t be here if not for him.”

Hathoot said he was extremely excited when he found out he’d gotten the job, but there was some sadness as well because of those relationships he’s built at LLHS.

“My No. 1 priority is going to be building on some of the things (Valencia) has done over the last few years,” he said. “I met with the kids and it seems like they’re ready to work.”

Being hired in early August is unusual in any year except for this one and presents a unique challenge to coaches like Hathoot who take over a program days before school starts as he loses out on summer workouts with the team.

“There’s a lot of challenges this late, “Hathoot said. “We’re going to have to hit the ground running in preseason. I’m still working on getting a staff hired. The biggest thing for us is going to be making sure we make every day count because there’s still going to be a lot of uncertainty.

“The main focus is on making sure that we’ll be ready if we’re fortunate enough to play come November.”

Long term, Hathoot has a clear vision of what he wants the program to look like and that vision starts with a commitment to hard work.

“I’m a big believer in the process, that if you do the work and go about your business the results will follow,” he said.

“Hopefully we want to work from the jump and we can get right into it. We’re going to have a culture of commitment, we’ve gotta have guys who are willing to buy into the offseason, the weight room. That’s what I want Valencia’s culture to be about.”

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Cameron Goeldner grew up in Boulder, Colo., and attended the University of New Mexico. He covers everything sports for all Valencia County schools.