Head Women's Basketball Coach

Leigh Marshall, brought in by Athletic Director Scott Cathcart to rebuild Palomar's women's basketball program from what virtually was ground zero, has since guided the Comets to three Pacific Coast Athletic Conference Championships, two Sweet 16 appearances, and one Elite 8 appearance in the state playoffs

Marshall was hired as Palomar's 11th head coach on Sept. 14, 2010, four weeks into the college's fall semester.

Marshall hit the ground running, filling a vacuum in the Palomar women's program which was teetering on the ink of collapse after the two previous head coaches left abruptly in the previous four months, one of them walking away just before classes began in August without recruiting a player or coaching a game.

Marshall had no returning players and, with fall registration already closed, was forced to recruit from a limited base of gym-class students and athletes from other sports. A number of players on that first team had never played basketball, and the Comets struggled through a winless season against a daunting schedule.

But Marshall managed to keep the program alive and, after she continued the rebuilding project last season, things have turned around beginning in 2012-13 season. Marshall was named the PCAC Coach of the Year in 2012-13 and 2014-2015. She was named the 2015 California Community College State Coach of the year.

Marshall also coaches and is an administrator with the Coastal Elite basketball program, where she coaches two 12u boys teams and one 13u girls team.

Marshall came to the Comets from El Modena High School in Orange, where she had been the head girls' coach since May 2008. The former Orange Coast College assistant coach took over an El Modena program that won one game the season before she arrived and, two seasons later, led the Vanguards into the CIF-Southern Section playoffs.

She began her coaching career as an assistant to veteran Mike Thornton at her community college alma mater, Orange Coast, in the 2001-02 season.

Marshall was a point guard at Orange Coast, playing a major role as the Pirates went 55-15 in her two seasons. She was a captain for Coast in her sophomore season of 2002-03, helping lead the Pirates to a 30-6 record and the CCCAA state community college championship.

Marshall, an Adjunct Professor in the Department of Health and Physical Education, received her Master of Arts degree with a major in Kinesiology from Cal State University Long Beach. She received her Bachelor of Science degree, also with a major in Kinesiology, from Cal State University Fullerton. She received her AA degree from Orange Coast.

Chris Kroesch

Assistant Coach

Former Palomar men's basketball player Chris Kroesch, who played guard for the Comets during the 1998-99 and 1999-2000 seasons, is in his fifth season as an assistant on Leigh Marshall's staff.

Playing for coach Virgil Watson in his sophomore season, Kroesch helped the Comets to the 2000 Pacific Coast Conference men's championship.

Kroesch is also in his tenth season as the girls head varsity coach at nearby Mission Hills High School. He has coached the Grizzlies to three straight CIF Championships, two of those being at the Open Division level. In 2014 he was named the San Diego Coach of the Year.

The San Marcos High School product is the Director of Coastal Elite Basketball Academy, a San Marcos based club that was founded in 2003. His club started with one team and has since grown to over 35 teams, including both boys and girls teams. Coastal Elite is now one of the largest clubs in the state of California.

Kroesch holds a bachelor of arts degree from San Francisco State University.

Damian Cephas

Assistant Coach

Damian Cephas is in his fifth season as an assistant coach in Palomar's women's basketball program. Cephas is the former head girls basketball coach at Orange Glen High School. He is currently the assistant girls basketball coach at San Pasqual High. He also serves as a club coach and Girls Director in the Coastal Elite basketball program.

Cephas played at Escondido High School from 1989-92 and was an all-league and All-CIF San Diego Section selection for the Cougars. He still holds school records for scoring, rebounding and shots blocked.

Cephas went on to play for Chaminade University in Honolulu, where he was a starting forward, team captain and all-conference selection. He played professional basketball for eight years in Europe, Australia and New Zealand before retiring in 2006.

Mario Trutanic

Assistant Coach

Mario Trutanic joins the Comet coaching staff for his first season.. He is in his first year as the head girls basketball coach at Carlsbad High School. The last five sea

sons, Trutanic was the assistant women's basketball coach at California State University Northridge.  While at CSUN, he had the privilege of working with head coach Jason Flowers, as the program reached new heights never previously reached in the history of CSUN and 2011-12 and 2013-14 Big West Conference Coach of the Year.  

During the 2013-14 and 2014-15 seasons,  CSUN won the Big West Tournament championship, which resulted in automatic berths to the NCAA tournament.  While at CSUN, Trutanic was in charge of post player development, which resulted in five post players continuing their careers professionally overseas.

During the 2010-11 season,  Trutanic was the head girls varsity basketball coach at Oaks Christian High School,  which set a school record with 25 wins and were a Division IV-A CIF Finalist and quarterfinalist in the state tournament.   Four student athletes from that team continued their playing careers at the Division 1 levels.

He also spent the 2009-11 seasons as an assistant coach/adjust professor in the Kinesiology Department at Santa Monica College.During the 2008-09 season, Trutanic served as the top assistant at Division-II San Francisco State.

Coach Trutanic is married to Dr. Julie Trutanic; the couple has two children: Brooklyn and Jordan.


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