The Hermiston High School girls basketball team will welcome a new leader this winter.

Maloree Moss, 25, will take the place of former coach Juan Rodriguez, Athletic and Activities Director Larry Usher announced last week.

“I’m extremely honored,” Moss said. “It’s something I’ve always dreamed of. I grew up with the program. As a kid, I watched the Hermiston girls play, then I played on the team, and now I get to coach that program. It’s an awesome feeling that I never thought I’d get to experience.”

Moss, a 2012 Hermiston High graduate, earned a degree in accounting at Eastern Oregon University. Instead of pursuing that career path, she became a business education teacher at Hermiston High School.

“I decided I wanted to teach and coach,” Moss said. “It was a spur of the moment thing.”

Moss is no stranger to coaching basketball. She’s been the assistant varsity basketball coach for the past three seasons, the JV volleyball coach in 2017, and the freshman volleyball coach in 2016.

Not only did Moss put in the work on the Bulldogs varsity team during her high school career, but she also played as a guard all four years at EOU.

“I learned so much about basketball there,” Moss said of her time as a Mountaineer. “I had a real connection with the team there. It was special.”

As for Rodriguez, his career transition is less a step down, and more of a step up. This fall, he will take on the assistant principal position at Armand Larive Middle School.

“It’s always been my career goal to move into administration,” Rodriguez said. “I just didn’t think it would happen so soon. I planned on coaching for a few more years, but it was an opportunity I couldn’t pass up. While it was hard to let go of basketball, it’s good for me and my kids. I’ll get to spend more time with them.”

Rodriguez had coached basketball in one capacity or another for the past 12 years. Seven of those were spent at HHS — three as the head coach.

The Bulldogs were 34-39 under Rodriguez, including a 8-14 record last season — their first in Washington’s Mid-Columbia Conference.

“It was by far one of my most rewarding seasons,” Rodriguez said. “So many aspects go into that — going into a new league, competing in a new conference, and having a lot of young, dedicated players work hard. We didn’t finish where we wanted to, but the program set a good stage for moving forward in the MCC. I know that Maloree will continue that. From a tactical standpoint, she knows basketball in and out. The program is in good hands.”

Usher will recommend Moss for the position at the next regular school board meeting July 8.

“I have really high expectations of the girls,” Moss said. “I’m so lucky. I have an awesome team, and that’s a big part of why I feel so honored. They’ve welcomed me with open arms. I’m really hoping we can get one of those playoff positions, if not more.”

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