Steve Ohlmeyer works his way to the top

Former Cal High student and longtime coach takes over men’s basketball program


Photo by Jake Gerbracht

New Cal High men’s basketball coach Steve Ohlmeyer, who graduated from Cal High in 1988, has worked with the school’s program for the past 20 years.

Andrew Sousa, Sports Editor

Steve Ohlmeyer has had a long history at Cal, but now he’s finally reached his goal.

After coaching at every basketball level at Cal, Ohlmeyer is now the new head coach of the men’s varsity basketball team. 

“When Mr. Khoo left, the job was posted in the district, and the stars just kind of aligned,” Ohlmeyer said. “I’ve coached every other position, so I thought after 20 years into my professional career, it was time to become a head coach.”

Before coaching at Cal, Ohlmeyer attended Cal, and has been associated with the school ever since he graduated in 1988. Last year, he was the head coach of Cal’s junior varsity men’s basketball team.

His first year as head coach has presented some challenges that other coaches in the past have not faced. This major challenge is of course navigating COVID-19, which has severely limited the time and extent the team can participate.

“We had to get really creative [with practice], because basketball is a higher risk sport,” Ohlmeyer said. “We’ve been allowed to do [Specialized Group Activities] for a while now, so that’s what we’ve been doing.”

Ohlmeyer has put safety in the forefront of practices, while also making sure the team gets the most out of each meeting.

“Everyone has to bring their own basketball, and we practice four days a week, one hour per day,” Ohlmeyer said.

While basketball typically practices and plays in the main gym, until recently, the program has had to play on the blacktop.

“We went old-school, practicing on the blacktop,” Ohlmeyer said. “It took me back to my playing years, when we only had one gym.”

As he often worked with former head coach Anthony Khoo, Ohlmeyer is taking a lot of his coaching ideals from him.

“Mr. Khoo ran a strong program, one with no shortcuts, and that hard work will pay off,” Ohlmeyer said.

While Ohlmeyer looks to keep many of the on court traits Khoo held, Ohlmeyer is turning off-court for change, looking to shift the culture of Cal’s basketball program, and connect better with the community.

“I’m a little different to connect with, since I’m a local guy,” Ohlmeyer said. “I want to make the team and program pretty entrenched in the San Ramon community, and I think I can amplify that.”

Players on the team have definitely noticed a difference in how the program is run, and how Ohlmeyer connects with the players.

The biggest difference between him and the other coach is the confidence in each guy,” senior James Buchanan said. “Coach Ohlmeyer has confidence in every guy on the team to execute their role, and having that confidence from the head coach really helps.”

Ohlmeyer has made many changes to how players are treated and connected with the coaching staff, and the team has responded in a very positive way.

“What I like about our new coach is that he is really for the team doing a lot of things for us outside of school, like getting us personal trainers to help us and even getting us shoes and providing us with a lot of tools,” said junior Ashan Fernando, a first year player on the team.

Due to COVID-19, the team’s season has been cut very short, reduced from the typical 26 to 30 games down to 16, including only eight league contests. Additionally, there will be no postseason for basketball or any other sport in the North Coast Section this season. The first game of the season is on April 28 against Monte Vista.

“It’ll be a super sprint to the finish line for sure,” Ohlmeyer said. “We want to give seniors as much experience as possible.”

While this year is cut short, Ohlmeyer is looking to use this year as a building block, and entrench Cal’s basketball program in the city.

“I want to turn San Ramon black and orange,” he said.