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, guided the Comets to the Pacific Coast Athletic Conference championship and a sweet 16 appearance in the state playoffs in 2012-13.
The Comets then finished second in the PCAC in 2013-14.
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 to begin the 2012-13 season. The Comets have won more games in their first month than the Comets had won in the first previous two seasons combined.
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.
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 third 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 eighth season as the girls head varsity coach at nearby Mission Hills High School. He coached the Grizzlies to the 2014 CIF San Diego Section Division I championship.
The San Marcos High School product is Director of the Top Gun Coastal Elite Basketball Academy, where he coaches the 11-and-under and 16-and-under boys teams.
Kroesch holds a bachelor of arts degree from San Francisco State University.
Damian Cephas is in his third 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 also serves as a club coach 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 ono to play for Chaminade University in Honolulu, where he was a starting forwawrd, team captain and all-conference selection. He played professional basketball for eight years in Europe, Australia and New Zealand before retiring in 2006.
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