Candice Tapia makes it all work

Colton High English teacher and girls’ basketball coach inspires students with her passion and work ethic


J. Dollins

Candice Tapia is all about inspiring Colton’s kids, both in the classroom and on the basketball court.

“Yes, it is difficult being an English teacher and a coach, but I try my best to make it all work.”

For the last six years, Candice Tapia has been making it work. She teaches English at Colton High School and is also an assistant coach for the girls’ basketball team, whose 2021-22 season begins this week.

Candice works hard to make sure her students are getting the best education possible along with her athletes getting the best training possible. 

“I find myself working so much during the season,” Candice says in regards to coaching and balancing her work life. Working as a teacher and coach alone is hard, but Candice also works at a Starbucks on the weekends.

All this work is fueled by passion and a desire to give back. 

Candice Tapia played basketball for Aquinas High School from 2004-2008. She was named Defensive Player of the Year. (Courtesy Candice Tapia)

Candice was once in the shoes of the students she coaches, having played basketball in high school. From 2004-2008, she was a star point guard from the Aquinas High Falcons where she was named Best Defensive Player, and received the Falcon Award (2004-2008) for her outstanding play on the court.

After high school, Candice played a year of college basketball at Briar Cliff University in Sioux City, Iowa. They were a small Catholic school, and she attended on a partial scholarship. Being away from her family made Candice feel like she was “missing out on some stuff,” and after a single missed Thanksgiving, she returned home.

Once she came home, Candice enrolled at Cal State University San Bernardino as a Kinesiology major, but all that changed when she met a professor Dr. Margaret Doane.

“I took one class with her and she inspired me to become an English teacher,” Candice said. She started taking more English classes and fell in love with the subject. One master’s degree later, and she not only teaches the subject, she’s the English department’s ninth grade English team lead.

Tapia tries to keep everything loose and fun on the court, even as she pushes her athletes to give their best. (Courtesy Keisha Young)

Keisha Young, who has been the head coach of the Colton High girls’ basketball team for the last six years with Candice, sees that impact. “I love that she is committed to teaching,” she said. “I used to watch her in action in the classroom, and she takes the time to find the things that would keep the kids interested. I wish my teachers would have done that when I was in high school.”

Candice’s love for playing basketball in high school inspired her to become a coach, which she simply describes as “fun.”

It is more than that, of course. She chose to be a basketball coach because she wanted to “make sure that the time these girls spend playing at Colton is what they are going to remember when thinking back to their best times in high school.”

That attitude drives the way she approaches coaching. “She really pushes to get the best from us,” said Reyna Chavez, who has played for Candice all four years of high school. “I think she’s a very caring person who loves to give it her all.”

Candice often leaves impacts on the people she’s around, whether inside a classroom or on the courts coaching and cheering her athletes on.

Though Candice can get caught up in her work life and being a coach, she still enjoys spending time with her family. Candice says, “I like to make sure I am spending my time with my family because that is most important to me.”

Balancing it all can be difficult, but Candice makes it work.