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Player Returns to Coach

Turns out, it’s in his blood.

Golf?

Yes, but also another aspect of Matt Jiggins’ life.

The 1994 graduate of San Marino High School surprised many of his friends when he accepted the golf coach position at his alma mater. Actually, his father, Ronald Jiggins, set the precedent a quarter-century ago.

“When my sister Amanda was a senior, the varsity girls’ soccer coach quit,” Matt explained. “My dad stepped in and coached the entire four years I was at San Marino High School, with quite a bit of success. He told me it was a blast and when the golf job came open, he encouraged me to take the position. My wife also thought it would set an excellent example for our children.”

Jiggins played in the same foursome as Superintendent Dr. Alex Cherniss this spring when Jiggins mentioned in passing that he would be interested if the position opened up. When Wyeth Collo took a sabbatical to teach at Punahou Academy in Hawaii, Cherniss called Jiggins.

“My wife and I were on a business trip in Florida early this summer and I received a call from Dr. Cherniss that they needed someone to fill the coaching position,” Jiggins said. “My wife and I had a conversation over the time commitment and decided that it would be good for me to give it a try. I completed the online application, went through a few interviews and was offered the position shortly before the start of the season.”

And what a season it has been. The Lady Titans are 10-1 and last week wrapped up the Baseline League championship with a perfect 6-0 mark.

With at least three college-bound golfers on his roster, Jiggins thinks San Marino can make a deep run in CIF, but he’s too smart to jinx it.

He played all four of his years and served as captain at SMHS under Coach George Arms. He recalls winning at least a couple Rio Hondo League championships, but doesn’t remember his individual honors. He is crystal clear, however, in his goal to take both the boys’ and girls’ teams at San Marino High School to new heights.

“Today’s high school players typically have their own mechanical golf coaches and I am there to help with managing their game,” said Jiggins, who plays to a solid 2 handicap from Annandale’s tips. “Whether it be providing putting drills or just helping them think their way through the golf course. Most of the varsity girls team already have picture-perfect swings and beautiful tempo.”

Jiggins said he hopes to bring in a certified training program and possibly even yoga and flexibility clinics for both the boys’ and girls’ teams while instilling a little “friendly competition” between the two.

“They seem to see each other at the range and in many junior tournaments throughout the summer,” he said. “It would be great for them to have a strong bond through the San Marino High School golf program.”

He is also on a mission to reignite the golf booster program.

He has certainly ignited the spirits of his charges.

“Coach is amazing,” senior Elizabeth Wang said, arguably the Lady Titans’ best player and one of those destined to perform at the next level. “He is extremely considerate of all of our team needs and motivates us to keep grinding. He really is a great coach.”

Sophomore Ella Chuang agrees.

“To me, having an involved coach who cares about who I am and how I feel not only as a player, but as a person is truly the best thing for a team,” Chuang said. “Coach is amazing at making sure we feel good and look good for our matches. He puts our well-being before our scores, asking us if we’re okay before asking what we shot on the last hole. He has made my experience as a Titan golfer better just by being a good person on top of being a great coach.”

Matt and his wife, Heather, are owner and CFO, respectively, of Kelley, Jiggins & Associates Insurance Brokers, which is located in Pasadena. Heather is a member of the Valentine Elementary School PTA executive board and Matt is a trustee for the San Marino Schools Foundation. The couple has two daughters; Madeline, 9, and Charlotte, who is 7. Both attend San Marino Schools.

Matt’s parents, Ronald and Carole, are both retired, dad still playing golf, but just five days a week.

“Dad always said I got the lessons, he got the bills,” Matt joked.

Matt also got a good role model.

Until August, Jiggins had a little coaching experience in AYSO and Pitching Machine baseball, but a quite memorable coaching moment.

“I volunteered quite a bit with hosting a group of players every year from the First Tee,” he said of the development organization which seeks to introduce young people to the game of golf. “Not long ago, I was with the girls’ team at the Alhambra Golf Course driving range. The father of a kid I hosted recognized me and let me know his son was headed to the Claremont Colleges to play golf. He had remembered when I played with his son at Annandale and I had encouraged him to continue practicing. That was nice.”

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