In 18 years with the Tracy High football program Jeff Pribble has grown into his role as a Bulldog coach.
That’s why it was a natural step for Pribble, 43, to take over the head coaching job after Matt Shrout announced that he would be stepping down to focus his attention on being the Tracy High athletic director.
“I’ve always wanted to be a head coach, but it was never about the title. It was always about just doing it,” Pribble said. “I’ve been with those guys. They were like family. I’ve had other chances in my career to coach other places, but that’s what special about Tracy High School. I think I got sucked into the tradition and then the camaraderie with the coaching staff, and how that passes on to the kids. It’s something you don’t want to leave.”
After graduating from Amador Valley High School in Pleasanton in 1996, Pribble played football at Chabot College in Hayward. An injury ended his playing career, but once he transferred to Chico State he got right into coaching, and soon was coaching at Pleasant Valley High in that town.
He graduated from Chico State in 2001 with a degree in kinesiology, got his teaching credential at Sacramento State. After a year of teaching physical education at Claremont Middle School in Oakland he landed in Tracy in 2004 as a teacher at Clover Middle School.
Pribble started coaching at Tracy High at the same time, volunteering his time when Mark Stroup was head coach, and soon established himself as defensive coordinator for the freshman football team under Jay Fishburn.
He continued teaching at Clover Middle School for two years, transferred to Kelly School and taught there for five years before coming to Tracy High.
Since 2010, when Shrout took over as head coach, Pribble has been a core component of the Bulldogs varsity coaching staff, first as defensive coordinator.
“That’s when that whole group gelled together and really turned it around into a very successful program. We changed the defense a little bit. We really had good athletes and good discipline,” he said.
Since then he has transitioned to the role of offensive coordinator, his job for the past 6 years. His personal growth as a teacher and coach is directly related to the growth he loves to see in student-athletes as they move through the program.
“Football has helped me grow as an individual. It’s created a platform for me to really just create relationships within the education system,” he said. “When you get these situations when kids really want to be together, they want to flourish, you get this feeling of togetherness, the camaraderie, a brotherhood, just a family environment that these kids need and all of a sudden you can see how well they work together. It’s a platform to make better people out of other people.”
Pribble expects to start preparing the team for the fall 2021 season next week. Though the team isn’t cleared to use the weight room because of COVID-19 restrictions, they can still begin conditioning and agility training.
He has also started building his coaching staff, with former junior varsity coach Justin Evans, a former Bulldog quarterback, taking the offensive coordinator job. More recent alumni Nate Shelton and Josh Clarke also join the coaching staff, and Charles Spikes, who has coached at West and Kimball high schools before coming to Tracy High last year, will be the new JV coach.