The secret that Carissa Jones-Fletcher kept throughout the 2021-22 girls basketball season was a life-changing one for her.
Ever since she came to Poway High as a physical education teacher and junior varsity basketball coach in 2015, she had heard how “this might be my last season of coaching” from longtime coach Jay Trousdale.
Each year, though, Trousdale kept coming back to coach the Titans.
When Trousdale finally announced his retirement from Poway after 35 years on Mar. 16, Jones-Fletcher immediately applied for the job she’d wanted all these years.
Jones-Fletcher, 34, is now Trousdale’s replacement after athletic director Damian Gonzalez made the announcement May 11.
“I am not replacing Trous,” Jones-Fletcher said. “I’m just hoping I can coach up to his standards.
“Who wouldn’t be nervous taking the team from him? I am super nervous and super excited. I am just looking at this as starting something new for Poway.”
Jones-Fletcher certainly knows the nine returning players Trousdale left behind.
If nothing else, those Titans know Jones-Fletcher, a 2006 graduate of Bakersfield Stockdale High and 2012 graduate of San Diego State.
She is married to husband, Zachary, and they have two children, son Caden, 11, and daughter Calli, 3.
“Most of my players were at my daughter’s baby shower before she was born,” she said. “Some of them were in my wedding. Some of them have babysat my kids, who live with me in the gym.
“These girls know my personality and I know so much about the players I’ll have this upcoming season.”
Trousdale retired as the San Diego County’s all-time leader in coaching wins and the lone girls coach with more than 700 victories.
His 726-286 coaching record for 35 years at Poway makes him one of only five coaches in California to surpass 700 wins.
Poway never had a losing season under Trousdale, who guided the Titans to 12 league titles and four CIF championships.
“What she will do is take some things she likes from what we’ve done and then put in some different stuff she likes,” Trousdale said. “It took me a few years to get to the point of shaping the things I wanted to do as the varsity coach.”
Jones-Fletcher is already hard at work watching film from last season as well as getting the Titans into three summer league tournaments, piecing together a schedule for next season and locking down time in the gym for practice and games.
“I came to Poway to coach basketball,” Jones-Fletcher said. “There is no need to reinvent the wheel here because the program is as solid as it gets.
“Use what we’ve been doing for decades as the foundation and then change some things slowly over the next few years.”
Poway, under Trousdale, used a relentless defense he changed instantly to make opponents miserable.
That, said Jones-Fletcher, will remain a mainstay of Titan basketball.
“I’ve enjoyed how focused he was on defense as a way to win games,” said Jones-Fletcher, also the chairman of Poway’s PE department. “He seemed to know the right moment to change a defense right in the middle of the other’s team’s possession for maximum value.”
Jones-Fletcher recalled the first time she met Trousdale.
“He knew who my high school coaches were and their names,” she said. “How does he know all these people, including my coaches in Bakersfield?
“I found out right away all about the prep work Trous does for everything.”
In all, Jones-Fletcher has nine returning players, including two who were called up from the JV for the varsity postseason.
“One of the many good things about her is she’s very organized,” the 67-year-old Trousdale added. “She’ll do a great job with all the administration work for the program because she’s helped me over the last few years.”
Poway was 16-11 overall and 2-8 in Palomar League play in Trousdale’s swan song.