PASCO -- Charlie Villanueva has paid his dues.
Now, he's hoping all that experience will pay off for the Pasco Bulldogs boys basketball team.
"I've been a longtime Pasco assistant," said Villanueva, who last month was hired to take over the Bullodgs program following Winton Lytle's April resignation after one season. "It's been a long time coming."
The boys JV coach last year, Villanueva has been, among other things, an assistant coach on the football team and the head girls tennis coach since moving up from Texas 18 years ago.
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He said he's been waiting for this opportunity and is excited to prove himself to the community.
"It's the one thing I've always wanted to do," he said. "I want to get Pasco back where it meant something to come down to our place. Whether we win or lose, I'm trying to get them to scrap, to play hard and to run every minute. People will be surprised with the intensity we'll bring."
Villanueva is already proving his point, participating in a summer basketball tournament at Kamiakin where the Bulldogs went 3-1 with wins over Sunnyside, Prosser and Sandpoint, Idaho.
Next up, the team continues it's summer of improvement, heading to the Gonzaga team camp July 24-28.
Villanueva hopes it's a complete change from the lack of preparation and success the Bulldogs experienced just a season ago.
The varsity team was 1-18 last year after Lytle was hired just two months before the season began.
Villanueva admitted it was difficult to watch the varsity team struggle last season. He added it won't be easy winning with such a young team this season, but he's confident he can turn the team around.
"We're all different, so it's no slander against coach Lytle," Villanueva said. "In his defense, they took forever to name a coach last year. I'm in a better situation than he was, so it was a tough deal for him to try to make a program from that.
"It was difficult watching the Bulldogs go that low, since I've been here when we were winning all the time. I'm a little more defensive minded, so we're gonna do that. That's the one thing that doesn't take years and years of preparation. It just takes heart."
Villanueva said the best thing he can bring to the team is stability, which it hasn't had with the recent shuffling of coaches.
"I can bring a stable entity," he said. "I've been here 18 years and I'll be here as long as they'll have me. I'm not going anywhere."
"We're gonna be fun to watch," he added. "We're gonna be young, so I can't guarantee success in the win column, but hopefully we can restore some pride in the program and community."
Villanueva said he passed up other job offers along the way in hopes of one day becoming the head coach at Pasco.
"I had many opportunities to leave and take head coaching jobs elsewhere, but I couldn't do it," he said. "I love the community. I love the kids. It's just amazing. It's a match made in heaven.
"I love the Pasco tradition. I'm gonna do my best to return us back to the glory days."