The San Marin basketball program continues its change after the passing of long-time boys basketball coach Craig Pitti in the fall of 2017. Both the boys and girls varsity teams hired a new head coach for the 2018-2019 season. Patrick Fahy replaced Dan Curtaz as the head coach of the varsity boys team, and Tony Butler replaced David Blair as the head coach of the varsity girls team this year.
The boys team and Curtaz parted ways after just one season, during which they finished seventh in MCAL and missed the playoffs with a 4-10 league record. Their 11-16 overall record granted them the seven seed in the NCS division III tournament, but they suffered a blowout loss in the second round. The girls team’s coaching position was left vacant after Blair left San Marin after the 2017- 2018 school year to teach at cross-town rival Novato High School. Under Blair, the girls team went 15-14 overall record with a 7-7 league record which finished fifth in MCAL.
Forty-four-year-old Butler is from Fairfax, but he has lived all over Marin his entire life and in Novato for the past eight years. He is and has been a teacher for 15 years along with being an athletic director for seven years. He has two daughters who are ages eight and ten whom he coaches in soccer, basketball and softball. He hopes they will attend San Marin in high school.
Butler has a lot of experience coaching basketball. He coached varsity boys basketball at Marin Academy for two years and San Rafael for 13. In addition to coaching boys varsity, he also coaches club basketball for North Bay Basketball Academy. He has coached girls before at the club level, but San Marin will be the first girls varsity team he has been the head of. Butler has many connections to San Marin. His brother and cousin both were Mustangs,and he has coached younger siblings of current San Marin students.
Coaching at San Rafael for 13 years, Butler and Pitti competed for several years. The two of them were good friends despite their competitiveness on the court.
“To have the task of continuing the tradition, passion and success Pitti gave the San Marin community is an honor,” Butler said. “I don’t intend to take it lightly and will coach each night with him in mind.”
The new girls head coach has many goals for this upcoming season and the ones in the future. Like all Marin County sports teams, his goal is to make the MCAL playoffs every season and win the red pennant and also to compete in the NCS playoffs each year and win that title as well.
“I am excited and enthusiastic about the potential of both the current players and those we will have in the future,” Butler said. “We plan to have a lot of fun working hard and together experiencing the journey that is a basketball season.”
The players have gotten to know their coach during the preseason practices and early season games and are adjusting to Butler’s coaching methods.
“I really like Tony and his coaching style,” senior girls player Michele Malliaras said. “He sets high but realistic expectations and thouroughly explains everything he wants from us in order for us to be our best.”
Malliaris said Butler has brought changes that have helped the team perform and bond better.
He is passionate for the game and brings a lot of energy which is contagious and brings out the best of us,” Malliaras said. “That is something this team has missed in previous years.”