Our coaches are carefully interviewed and approved by the club and then provided with numerous hours of basketball skills training from our in-house trainer, Coach Gary Smith. In addition, every Wildcats coach is screened by the Amateur Athletic Union (AAU) and must complete all three levels of the nationally recognized Positive Coaching Alliance (PCA) training program. Our coaches must possess knowledge and love of basketball, but, more important, they must demonstrate a commitment to providing their players with a positive, character-building sports experience based on encouragement and respect.
Meet Our Wildcats Coaches
Wildcats President; 5th Grade Boys Coach; Director of Wildcats Development League; Director of Junior Wildcats
Steve joined the Wildcats coaching staff nine years ago, bringing over 23 years of coaching basketball at the middle and high school level. For the past nine years he has been involved with all levels of Wildcats, including the introduction of Junior Wildcats and Wildcats Development League. Coach Sousa was the Head Freshman, Head JV and then Assistant Varsity coach for Archbishop Mitty High School in San Jose from 1994-2000. After relocating to Davis in 2001 he assisted numerous local Junior High and High schools throughout Yolo County before settling on the Wildcats. Steve lives in Davis with his wife Patti and sons Sam and Nick. Fun Fact: Coach Steve is a gourmet cook!
3rd Grade Boys Coach
Derek Pickus has been a Wildcats coach for three years. He has coached youth sports (basketball, soccer and baseball) for nearly 10 years. Derek played basketball and volleyball in high school and was recruited to play volleyball for the UCLA Bruins untl a back injury ended his competitive playing days during his freshman year. Derek gradualted from UC Davis with a BA in Psychology (transferred from UCLA) and lived in Davis with his wife and two sons. At 6'7", Derek is hard to miss in the gym. Fun Fact: Derek is truly addicted to fishing - especialy for Salmn, Trout and Steelhead. In his free time you'll often find him standing in the American or Feather River chasing whatever species is in season. If you like to fish, let him know - he loves to talk about all things fishing related!
4th Grade Boys Coach
Marc Ross loves basketball and coaching. He played basketball at Rhodes College in Memphis, Tennessee and also has an MBA from UC Davis. Marc has been as assistant coach for Dixon high School basketball and has coached youth baseball and basketball the past few years. He works in commercial real estate and lives in Davis with his wife Syreeta and his sons, Cooper and Tyler. Fun Fact: Marc grew 6 inches the summer before his Sophomore year of high school!
6th Grade Boys & 7th Grade Boys Coach
Brett Cauchi has a passion for teaching leadership and life lessons through the game of basketball. Brett was part of some of the first Nor Cal Wildcats teams as a player. Brett then played three years of college basketball (two at Solano College and one at Linfield College). Brett is a graduate of Chico State where for three years he coached for the Women's Basketball program, including an NCAA Tournament second round appearance. Brett currently works for Point Guard College basketball camps along with substitue teaching, coaching at Dixon High School and does skills training. He lives in Davis with two of his best friends along with their amazing puppy Piper! Fun Fact: Brett is an avid music fan, attending over 30 concerts since the age of 12 - including AC/DC, Green Day, The Who, Elton John, Blink-182, Genesis, Tom Petty and more!
6th Grade Boys & 7th Grade Boys Assistant Coach
Arieas Toney loves basketball and has been playing since he was 3 years old. He grew up in Elk Grove, CA and went to Franklin High School where he played basketball and football. He went on to receive his Undergraduate Degree from Chico State. Arieas recently moved back to Elk Grove to become a substitue teacher while pursuing his Masters Degree. He has been coaching teams and instructing camps for seven years and he's very excited to develop our players both mentally and physically. Fun Fact: Arieas' dad has been a basketball coach in Sacramento for 20+ years!
8th Grade Boys Coach
Stephen Smith is a former all-conference UCD Aggie basketball player who has been coaching varsity high school basketball in the Sacramento area since 1997. He started his coaching career in 1994 as the 5th grade coach at St. James school. Coach Smith has been an elementary school teacher in the Natomas Unified School district since 1998 and has been the head varsity coach at both of Natomas' high schools. He is originally from Oakland, Califormia where he played high school basketball at Bishop O'Dowd and participated in two state championship games in three years on varsity. He has also worked with UCD basketball and trained athletes at the high school, college and professional levels. Fun Fact: Coach Smith considers hiself a better cook than he was a basketball player.
Suzanne Meraz fell in love with basketball when she first started playing in the 8th grade. She went on to play at Trnity International University and earned her degree in communications. She and her husband Carlos has coached AAU girls basketball since 2014 for Nor Cal Swish and Wildcats. Suzanne works in public relations and when not on the basketball court she can be found cheering on her daughters at swim meets and soccer games, and Carlos' high school football team. Fun Fact: Suzanne was recently inducted to the inaugural (2016) Hallof Fame class at Will C. Wood High School for athletes.
Gary Smith, Wildcats Coach Trainer
The renowned Gary Smith is our Wildcat Coach Trainer. In his 36 years as the head coach at the University of Redlands, Coach Smith compiled more wins in the SCIAC than any coach in its history. He was named West Region Coach of the Year in 2007 along with the NABC Guardians of the Game Award for Education and the NABC D-III Outstanding Service Award that same year. His teams have led the nation in scoring 5 times with his 2004-05 team averaging and NCAA all Division record 132.4 points per game. Coach Smith and wife Carol moved to Davis after leaving Redlands to be closer to daughter Karen, son-in-law Jason and grandson Max. He has had previous experience with Wildcat Basketball when he assisted Steve Sousa with his 16U high school team. Carol & Gary enjoy fly fishing in the Sierras. Fun Fact: Coach Smith has had a close association with the German Basketball Federation for over 30 years conducting camps, clinics and touring with his teams in Europe.