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Thu, Sept. 19

Profile: Michael Trujillo finds potential long-term home at Embry-Riddle
College Basketball

Embry Riddle Head Coach Mike Trujillo talks to players during a timeout as the Eagles face the Lincoln Christian Red Lions Thursday, Dec. 20, 2018 in Prescott. (Les Stukenberg/Courier)

Embry Riddle Head Coach Mike Trujillo talks to players during a timeout as the Eagles face the Lincoln Christian Red Lions Thursday, Dec. 20, 2018 in Prescott. (Les Stukenberg/Courier)

PRESCOTT — On the court, the Embry-Riddle women’s basketball team looks like the dominant force we have come to know over the last two seasons. The Eagles (10-2, 1-0 Cal Pac) look poised to make another run at the conference championship.

However, there is a new man patrolling the sideline this season, with coach Becky Burke deciding to take a new opportunity to coach the University of Charleston in West Virginia, and that man in charge is head coach Michael Trujillo.

Growing up in Denver, Colorado, Trujillo got his start in the sports world playing little league football in third grade. By his own admission, he wasn’t the biggest guy, so playing football wasn’t in his future, but the coaches he had early on, have shaped his coaching career.

“I played all the way up through high school, playing baseball, basketball and football in high school and early on I had some really good coaches and I knew early on I wanted to coach,” Trujillo said. “I knew in middle school I wanted to coach because I had some really good mentors and I was like I want to do that.”

The 2018-2019 season marks his 17th coaching basketball and his career has been one filled with travels and different opportunities. Trujillo has ties to Arizona, coaching under Charli Turner-Thorne at ASU (2002-2003), as well as, Lauri Kelly at NAU (2006-2007). Trujillo got his head coaching start at Texas A&M-Kingsville for three seasons, before returning back to the Big Sky conference to be an assistant at Idaho State.

Through the variety of opportunities, Trujillo has gained a wealth of experience which has led to his own coaching philosophy, which he says is built on being a teacher first, even though he’s not in a classroom.

“I have two degrees in education so I’m a teacher,” Trujillo said. “So just because you’re not in a classroom, the gym is essential my classroom. I try to take examples that the kids have been through, examples that I have been through and try to use them as learning experiences. So when the kids mess up, when they do something wrong, anybody can point out, you traveled, don’t travel, but I try to talk to the kids about this is why you traveled and here is how to prevent that. I’m not a yeller, I’m not a screamer, I’m a teacher.”

Now in his first season at Embry-Riddle, Trujillo find himself back in Arizona where his coaching career began. He took over an Eagles team that in 2017-2018 finished 21-6, making it to the Cal Pac conference semifinals. Coming off their first season of being ranked nationally under Becky Burke, it has been both a transition for players and coaches.

“It’s a big transition for a team in general, but I think although the coach is different, the team dynamic and our team togetherness never changes and I think that’s a big thing with our season now, said junior Jazlyn Maletino. “We’re 10-2 because of the team and we have the coaches that guide us through every day, so it’s been a good transition so far.”

For coach Trujillo, Burke left the program in great shape and did a “great job at recruiting” and for him Embry-Riddle is the “whole package”.

“When it was early on, to go to different places was ok, it was fun to see different parts of the country,” Trujillo said. “Now I have two little boys and it’s time to settle down. We wanted to put some roots down, but I wanted to do it at a school that I believed in, because when I walk into someone’s house and I try to sell them on a university it has to be somewhere that I believe in. We have that with the academics we have here, we have the support, we have the money, we have the facilities and we have the whole package.”

Outside of the university, Prescott is a place that coach Trujillo has come to enjoy and feels comfortable about raining his family. Getting to work alongside his friend, is another added bonus.

“My family is first in everything and Prescott is a really good community that I feel good about raising my boys in,” said Trujillo. “Not only that but coach Eric Fundalewicz the men’s coach, he and I went to college together so when you get a chance to work with your buddy, (it’s great).”

Chris Whitcomb is a sports reporter for The Daily Courier. Follow him on Twitter at @AZChris32. Email him at cwhitcomb@prescottaz.com, or call 928-445-3333, ext. 2031.

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