Hoover athletes have responded to coach Ollie Goulston's brand of basketball that emphasizes hard work, dedication, accountability, discipline and selflessness.
In 1974, the Hoover basketball program hung its sixth strip of championship fabric.
The banners — eloquently stitched with letters and numbers — depicted different accomplishments the Cardinals achieved in their history. Three displayed SoCal Championships. Two exhibited San Diego Section Class 2A Championships and the remaining one: a Section Finals appearance.
For three decades, those stood as lone remnants of Hoover’s glory days because during that span, playoff success — a CIF Finals appearance, let alone title — eluded them.
“It was a really neglected program and neglected school,” said Cardinals basketball coach Ollie Goulston, who accepted the position in 2003.
“A year before I came here, they had less than 30 varsity victories in every varsity sport, whether guys or boys. It was really a struggling school.”
Goulston changed that on the basketball court. In his first year. The longtime travel league basketball coach guided his first team to a Division II Championship — Hoover’s first appearance in 30 years.
It was also the first of six total Finals appearances in Goulston’s nine-year tenure thus far as the Cardinals coach, which turned them into a basketball powerhouse. Saturday night’s victory over Compton improved Goulston’s record to 241-79 at Hoover, second all-time behind Hal Mitrovich.
“What Ollie has been able to accomplish is remarkable," said Hoover Athletic Director Ron Lardizabal. "Ollie sets the bar high for our kids on the basketball court and in the classroom. And it's all to prepare them for basketball and what they will encounter in their lives."
Initially, Goulston faced a daunting task in 2003. Handed a program that managed a combined 18 wins in three years, and suffered from a culture of underachieving, Goulston was forced to turn brass into gold.
Immediately, he introduced his intense brand of basketball to his talented, yet underdeveloped group of players.
Hard work. Dedication. Accountability. Discipline. Selflessness.
No longer would an individual be more important than the team. No longer would academics be placed on the backburner. No longer would players skip class and misbehave on campus without consequences.
Either they accepted it or were shown the door.
“I’ve dismissed players that were All-State from my program. Some of them were dismissed for different reasons,” Goulston said.
“One player didn’t want to go to class and was very disrespectful. Another one was very selfish and only concerned about himself. So, we’ve always took the stance that the name on the front of the jersey is much more important than the name on the back.”
The players bought in. Success followed. In the first 70 years of the program, Hoover won two section titles in three appearances. Since Goulston arrived — almost a decade ago — Hoover has won three titles in six appearances and seven league titles.
“The success that he has achieved shows that what he’s teaching works,” said junior guard Miles Nolen-Webb. “He helped others in the past achieve great things on the basketball court and got them to college.”
The wins certainly mean something to Goulston, but providing his kids with the tools to succeed on the court, in the classroom and in society, he said, mean much more to him.
“I think the lessons you learn athletically transcend real life. Don’t make excuses. Don’t have explanations for everything. Push yourself to achieve your goals,” he said. “I want to help these kids develop as young men.”
As for his legacy?
“I want them to say that Hoover produced a lot of great people,” Goulston said.