SJCC softball coach reaches 800 wins while navigating through COVID-19

Guiding the lady jags during the pandemic

Photo courtesy of San Jose City College
Huntze-Rooney coaches Lady Jag #10 as the rest of the team cheers on.

San Jose City College’s softball coach Debbie Huntze-Rooney, who has instructed lady jags for the past three decades, reached 800 wins in March and has earned many awards.

Some of the awards Huntze-Rooney has won are Coast Conference Coach of the Year and Northern California Coach of the Year.

“I was excited to reach the milestone of 800 wins and when I think about it, it seems unreal. I know it is an exceptional goal to achieve during my career, but it is not only a milestone for me to celebrate but for my assistant coaches, SJCC softball teams, families and friends,” Huntze-Rooney said.

During Huntze-Rooney’s career as head coach she has been able to work with exceptional, as she says, assistant coaches who have also paved the way for her success.

“I’ve been with coach Huntze for a long time. She is a very special person in my heart. I’ve worked with her since ‘97. She’s always there on or off the field. She’s constant and in your darkest time she’s bright,” assistant coach Terrell Jones said.

Huntze-Rooney said her father and three brothers had a big part in influencing her interest in softball when she was around the age of 7.

“My father, he was a baseball coach. He was a coach and a teacher, so that was very influential for me. … I had to keep up with my brothers. … We were a sport minded family,” Huntze-Rooney said.

After transferring to Chico State from West Valley College, Huntze-Rooney realized she wanted to get to a college setting in her career because it would give her an opportunity to recruit locally in the community.

Huntze-Rooney first started to teach middle schoolers and then high schoolers. While teaching, Huntze-Rooney worked on her master’s in education administration at Azusa Pacific University.

Huntze-Rooney made her way back to the Bay and decided to apply for the coaching job at SJCC, she was immediately hired in 1992.

“She has taught me to be humble. … To understand other people. She provided an example of someone I wish I would’ve played for. She provides opportunity. … She makes me want to be better,” coach Brittney Gutierrez said.

Huntze-Rooney and her team were still in season when COVID-19 hit. The lady Jags were having a great season but they had to end it short in March. This was hard for the players and coaches because of all the dedication that was put in.

“Right now I’m just trying to stay as connected to my student athletes as I can. … They want to get back on the field, they want to get back to training,” Huntze-Rooney said.

Softball player Macy Wagner speaks highly of her head coach.

“Playing under coach Rooney is probably one of the best experiences I’ve ever had. She made a difference in the mental aspects of the game that I wasn’t really aware of,” softball player Macy Wagner said.

Huntze-Rooney’s message to her players is to look at the good things, stay healthy, look forward and to push through because they will be stronger individually and as a team.