Covering High School Sports in America
Bishop O'Dowd (Oakland, Calif.) boys basketball coach Doug Vierra, one of the truly good people in high school coaching around the San Francisco Bay Area, will step down at the end of the season.

Photo by Dennis Lee

Doug Vierra on Saturday.

Vierra is in the middle of one of O'Dowd's strongest runs and he hopes to finish things off with an elusive state Division III championship.

The Dragons are the two-time defending Northern California champions and lost two very winnable state-title games. They are currently ranked No. 21 in California.

Long time assistant and one of the Bay Area's best known and liked assistants, Lou Richie, has already been named as Vierra's replacement.

O'Dowd is one of the better known programs in the state and produced such pros as Brian Shaw. Former O'Dowd coach Mike Phelps left as the state's winningest coach with more than 830 victories. 

Vierra leaves, he said, to take a break from the grind and spend more time with his family.

"I have loved every day of my six seasons as the O'Dowd basketball coach, as I did my six seasons at Oakland High before that," Vierra said in a statement. "I thank all of my players for a lifetime of great memories! After discussing things with my wife and family, I realize that I need a break from the great time demands of coaching such a high level program. I am a teacher and coach and will continue that vocation, though probably at the developmental levels.

Photo by Dennis Lee

Lou Richie (L) with Josh Crum.

"I thank everyone at O'Dowd who entrusted me with this great opportunity six years ago and have supported me strongly throughout. I would rather have waited until after our season for a public announcement, but I understand the school's need to name a successor as soon as possible. I'm thrilled for Coach Richie and have great expectations for the future of the program."

Vierra has a record of 141-44 over his six seasons at O'Dowd including three Hayward Area Athletic League, two North Coast Section and three Northern California titles.

His current team (24-5) is seeded No. 2 in the NorCal playoffs and hosts Lindquist in a quarterfinal game. The Dragons won their 10th NCS title on Saturday.

Richie, a 1989 O'Dowd graduate who played at UCLA and Clemson, said he is humbled by the job offer.

"It's an honor to have the opportunity to give back to the O'Dowd community," Richie said. "I care very deeply about this place. I look forward to working with the school's incredible administrators, faculty and staff, and student-athletes and their families."