How one San Juan Unified coach uses positivity to make a difference on and off the field
Positivity is a guiding force for Chris Horner, head football coach for Casa Roble Fundamental High School and winner of the Sacramento Bee’s 2023 Football Coach of the Year award. His motto, “negativity wins 100 percent of the time,” encapsulates how he inspires students to push past the negativity to become the best they can be in their academic, athletic and personal lives.
“He goes above and beyond,” said Casa Roble teacher and athletic director, Aaron Marlette. “It’s not just the wins and losses, it’s what goes on behind the scenes.”
According to Marlette, who has been working alongside Horner for over 20 years, Horner works hard to ensure that student athletes feel supported on and off the field. “Because there is a relationship established, I think the kids work extremely hard for him,” he said.
Bryan McElroy, whom Horner affectionately refers to as “B-Mac,” is a 12th-grade student and football player at Casa Roble. McElroy expressed gratitude for the positive influence Horner has had on his life since they met, back when Horner was his little league coach.
“He’ll actually help you, like, off the field,” McElroy said. “He’ll take extra time out of his day to make sure you actually understand something.”
As a San Juan High School alumnus, father of two Casa Roble students and husband to a teacher at Oakview Community Elementary School, Horner’s roots in the district run deep. The walls of his classroom proudly display memorabilia from over 20 years of work as a teacher and coach at Casa Roble. Nestled between team photos, quotes from The Office and pictures of his family is a monument to his team’s latest victory: a pennant from the Ram’s 2023 California Interscholastic Federation (CIF) San Joaquin Section championship win. This once-in-a-decade achievement was not only a great accomplishment for the Rams, but a personal milestone for Horner, who watched live as his son caught the winning two-point conversion.
However, Horner is not done winning yet. When looking to the future, he said he wants to continue growing the athletics program at Casa Roble and expanding its positive influence on the community.
“We want to evolve it, and just keep getting it better and better and better, and making it one of those places that people feel comfortable coming to, and want to choose Casa,” he said.