SALIDA – Modesto Christian, the school that has taken home many Sac-Joaquin Section and CIF state titles in football and basketball, has brought back former administrators to reboot its future.
One of them is Greg Pearce, M.C.’s longtime athletic director, who returns as co-A.D. with Robb Spencer. Another is Cynthia Jewell, who served a 13-year term as principal and now is back in the same position.
Pearce and Spencer discounted the recent rumors that the school nearly closed or that it faced serious financial problems. High school enrollment has dipped to about 150, Pearce said, from a high of about 320.
“Financially, the school is in a good position,” said Pearce, a Sonora resident who worked for two years for the Tuolumne County Recreation Department before he came back this week to the Salida school. “I would literally be the biggest fool on the planet if I left my job in Sonora to come to a school that’s closing their doors.”
Spencer, the coach of the successful Crusaders girls basketball team, acknowledged the instability in the football program over the past year. Jerry Grimshaw, the coach who guided Calvary Temple to the Sac-Joaquin Section Division VII title in 2006, was hired to lead the Crusaders two weeks ago.
Grimshaw is MC’s fourth football coach in about a year. Mike Parsons, who guided Modesto Christian to a state football title in 2009, stepped down after the 2018 season. Ryan Green, his hired replacement, walked away from the job last spring without coaching a game.
Brett Butler was named last May, too late to save an exodus of players who transferred to other schools. The Crusaders slipped to 1-9, including a forfeit to Hilmar, in 2019.
“I’ve always heard the rumors. With football, it magnified. Football was such a rough year,” Spencer said. “We had a whole lot of unhappy people. ... That’s what magnified all the craziness.”
Pearce believes Modesto Christian has been in transition since 2016, when the school was purchased from Neighborhood Church. It’s now run by Modesto Christian Schools Inc.
“We’re in an interesting but great position right now,” Pearce said. “It’s my farewell tour. There are a lot of things going on that are positive, a lot of positive energy.”
Spencer, who was hired by Pearce to come to Modesto Christian two decades ago, said he was pleasantly surprised by Pearce’s return.
“It’s beyond great,” he said. “People say they haven’t seen me smile so much."
Both athletics leaders are encouraged by Grimshaw’s future with the football program.
“We’re blessed as a school to have him,” Pearce said. “The thing about Jerry is that he’s a great leader. … We know what he’s bringing.”