Meet Our Coaches

Welcome to YULA Athletics!

Panther Pride has always been a hallmark of YULA High School. With 27 teams, over 30 coaches, and the participation of more than 75% of our student body, our athletics program plays a major role in instilling the values of teamwork, leadership, healthy living, and commitment in our students.

Through competitive athletics, our students are able to actualize their potential and live out their learned Torah values and midot on the court, field, and pool. As a school, we are committed to enhancing our athletics program, adding new teams, being (even more) competitive in our leagues, increasing student participation, and encouraging our fans to show up and support our student-athletes. With all that is learned through their chosen sport, our student-athletes proudly represent our school’s three pillars – Primacy and Relevancy of Torah, Uncompromising General Studies, and Character Development – on and off the field.

Alexandra Novak
Director of Athletics

Meet Our Coaches

Michael Pollack

Varsity Basketball Head Coach - Boys

Michael Pollack is one the few alumni (if not only?) on our staff who graduated from the YULA class of 2003. He's coming on close to 10 years of coaching experience within our program. Mike played collegiate basketball at Yeshiva University where he studied Finance and Accounting and when moved back from NY, Coach David Winik immediately brought him on to the program. He coaches the JV Boys Basketball and has been a Varsity Assistant under Coach Dave Winik, Coach Eli Hami and now Coach Vince Oliver. He played under Coach Ed Gelb and Coach Winik and was part of the last Liberty League basketball championship in 2003. Mike's passion for being part of the program helps connect the past YULA basketball family into the present.

Gil Dalva

Varsity Basketball Assistant Coach - Boys

Gil Dalva was born and raised in Los Angeles to Israeli parents. His father played professional soccer in Israel and his grandfather was a pro boxer in Turkey. Gil played high school basketball for current Yula Varsity head coach Motti Meisels back in 1996-1997, where he flourished as a tremendous scorer. While in his first year in college, Gil began coaching basketball in youth and club teams. Shortly thereafter, Gil moved on to coaching high school teams at the JV and Varsity levels. Gil is an absolute basketball fanatic who believes that athletics lays the groundwork for tremendous personal growth. As an advocate for student athletes, Gil preaches sportsmanship, teamwork, fundamentals, and positive thinking. Gil currently lives in Encino with his wife and three kids and enjoys watching basketball (of course), bike riding, and training his nine-year-old daughter as she pursues her passion for basketball.

Daniel Lapson

JV Basketball Assistant Coach - Boys

Daniel was born and raised in Skokie, Illinois and graduated from Ida Crown Jewish Academy in 2009. He played basketball all four years and was part of Ida Crown’s only Saracheck championship in the school's history. He loves the game of basketball and hopes to instill the love of the game in all of his players. Daniel is looking forward to getting his coaching career started with Coach Mike!

Luis Cendejaz Mendez

Varsity Flag Football Coach - Girls and Boys

Frosh/Soph Basketball Coach - Boys

Football enthusiast and student of the game, Luis epitomizes the phrase “seize every opportunity.” He was introduced to Football at age seven and never looked back. He’s no stranger to being the  “smallest guy on the field.” Being the youngest of three boys, Luis had to constantly earn his spot. His hunger for success allowed him to lead a youth flag football team to a championship during his first year as a head coach. He also lead a middle school team to an undefeated season and division championship despite limited resources, which ultimately landed him an assistant coaching job for Sylmar High School. In his short tenure there, two players under his leadership were recruited to the University of Arizona. Lastly, Luis has over seven years of experience coaching athletes K-12 to develop their football skills in all areas of the game and, of course, to have fun! When Luis isn’t coaching or playing football, he enjoys hiking, content creating, and traveling to new spots.

Julia Noguchi

Varsity Fencing Head Coach - Girls and Boys

Ms. Julia Noguchi has over twelve years of fencing experience. She is a former college D1 fencer from Duke University and received her BA in Chemistry in 2022. Ms. Noguchi has received numerous medals at the local, regional, national, and international level, earning her a spot on the Japanese National Team. As a member, she competed in World Cups and Circuits, placing in the top 5 in her age division. She is currently a student at the UCLA School of Dentistry and hopes to create an environment that promotes sportsmanship and integrity at YULA. We are delighted to welcome Ms. Noguchi to YULA, where she will serve as the Head Coach of both the boys’ and girls’ Varsity Fencing Teams.

Chris "CJ" Jones, PGA

Varsity Golf Coach - Boys

I grew up in a very competitive household where I always wanted to be the best at every sport I tried. Golf was no exception. After playing high school golf, where I started out with an average score of 100 then went down to near par by the end, I decided to turn this into a career. I attended the University of Nevada, Las Vegas where I received my Bachelor of Science degree in Hospitality Management while completing a concentration in the PGA Professional Golf Management Program. Shortly after my final internship, I was recognized with my Class-A PGA membership. I then started my career at a high-end Private Club right down Pico Blvd. called Hillcrest Country Club as one of their PGA Golf Professionals. Over the past five years at Hillcrest, I’ve cultivated a passion for golf instruction and player development. I’ve now taught members and guests between the ages of 3 and 93, from beginner to scratch golfer. I’m very excited to bring these skills to YULA golf. My goal is not only to grow the game but grow experiences and lasting memories these kids will take with them on whatever journey they choose past high school. I plan to bring my passion for golf instruction to educate, train and develop YULA’s golfers to show them what they’re capable of on and off the course.

Yaelle Shaye

Frosh/Soph Volleyball Coach - Girls

Ms. Yaelle Shaye is a proud YULA alumni of the Class of 2022 and is now a Senior at UCLA. After playing both volleyball and basketball throughout her four years at YULA, she is excited to be back and continue her journey with YULA athletics as the Frosh/Soph Volleyball Coach. Ms. Shaye is eager to pass on her love for YULA and for volleyball to her players and is looking forward to an incredible season!

 

Victoria Hanlon

Assistant Track & Field Coach - Girls and Boys

Coach Victoria Hanlon (or Ms. Victoria as she is known on campus) is the returning Assistant Track & Field Coach. She is the Director of Academic Support for the Girls Division and truly enjoys being able to work with the girls both in the classroom and on the track. She was born in Miami, FL and ran multiple events in highschool including hurdles. Victoria is still an avid runner and triathlete, with over 100 races under her belt. Coach Victoria enjoys providing her student athletes support in everything they need and prides herself on always being the loudest one at each meet cheering on her lady Panthers.

 

HJ Adams

Varsity Tennis Coach - Girls and Boys

HJ is a former college tennis player at Morehead State University where he graduated with a Bachelor's degree in Sport Management. His love for sports led him to pursue a career in the professional sports industry where he has nearly a decade of experience across the NFL, NHL, MLB and MiLB. His favorite tennis players of all-time include Serena and Venus Williams and Rafael Nadal.

Born and raised in Louisville, KY, he is also a passionate fan of collegiate athletics, especially college basketball. He is committed to investing in and creating more visibility for women in sports.

Jenn Pedersen

Varsity Soccer Head Coach - Girls

Coach Jenn is a former club, ODP, and college player, and has played and coached soccer for nearly 40 years. She was a member of the 1994 bronze and the 1996 gold medal girls’ soccer teams at the JCC Maccabi Games in Cleveland, Ohio and New York/New Jersey. An enthusiastic coach of players from Lil’ Kickers to college women, Ms. Pedersen is excited to be coaching high school-aged girls for the second time in her coaching career. Ms. Pedersen is passionate about the success of her players as student-athletes and instilling the values of personal accountability, teamwork, respect, and perseverance both on and off of the pitch. Her plans for this season include cultivating individual skills and strengthening team dynamics. We are delighted to welcome Ms. Pedersen to YULA, where she will serve as the Head Soccer Coach.

Cieana Stinson

Varsity Volleyball Head Coach - Girls

Ms. Stinson was born and raised in the San Fernando Valley, and has played a number of sports throughout her life, including basketball, cheerleading, soccer, track & field, and volleyball. Ms. Stinson started playing volleyball in high school, and then received a full scholarship to play volleyball at CSUN. She graduated from CSUN in 2016 with a Bachelor’s in Psychology and worked in the Mental Health field. Ms. Stinson began coaching in 2015 at Supernova and coached there until 2020. In 2021 she began coaching club volleyball at LAVA; Ms. Stinson also was an assistant coach at Alemany High School from 2016-2019. Ms. Stinson then moved onto the Varsity Head Coaching Position at Heritage Christian in 2019-2021. We are delighted to welcome Ms. Stinson  to YULA, where she will serve as the Varsity Girls Head Volleyball Coach.

Ariel Sokol

Varsity Flag Football Coach/JV Basketball Head Coach/Varisty Basketball Assistant Coach - Boys

Ariel Sokol is a graduate of Hillel and YULA. He deeply understands the value of a strong foundation in education and personal growth. His journey has continued at Yeshiva University, where he not only earned his degree but was also an NCAA athlete. His experience taught him the importance of teamwork, dedication, and discipline. He is thrilled to have the opportunity to bring his passion for basketball to YULA as a coach. His unique blend of academic achievements and athletic prowess has prepared him to guide and inspire young athletes. We look forward to the contributed growth and success of the YULA sports program led by Coach Sokol.

Rafael Meghnagi

Varsity Soccer Coach - Boys

Rafael Meghnagi started playing soccer at six years old and fortunately my body has let me continue on playing until today. I began coaching at age 16, volunteering to coach AYSO youth teams. I then founded an adult soccer club in Los Angeles in 2007 called Dogtown Athletic. I oversee all three teams within that club, managing over 60 players year round. I started the YULA Boy's soccer program in 2008 and we've just completed our 14th season.

 

AJ Vasquez

Varsity Soccer Assistant Coach - Boys

 

Jason Schoen

Varsity Baseball Head Coach - Boys

 

Chet McLees

Varsity Baseball Assistant Coach - Boys

Chet McLees brings a diverse background in education and sports to his role as an assistant coach. With deep roots in both his alma maters, Emek and YULA, Chet's journey has been defined by a commitment to learning, leadership, and teamwork. Having completed his K-8 education at Emek, Chet now gives back to the school community as a shadow teacher. His experience in this role has honed his ability to connect with individuals and provide personalized support, skills he leverages in his coaching approach. Chet's athletic prowess was evident during his time at YULA, where he served as the captain of the baseball team. This leadership experience, combined with his passion for the game, has fueled his desire to guide young athletes in their own journeys. After his time at YULA, Chet pursued higher education at Excelsior College, further deepening his knowledge and commitment to personal growth. His well-rounded background makes him an ideal mentor for players both on and off the field.

Kevin Rose

JV Basketball Coach - Girls

Coach Rose played college basketball at Indiana University Purdue University Indianapolis (IUPUI). Where he walked on to a Division I program following his freshman year. After college he started Coaching high school basketball at Crispus Attucks where he helped the program win the Class 3A State Championship the first state title for the Tigers since 1959 with Oscar Roberson. In 2020 he moved to California to work at Mamba Academy for basketball training. After that he went independent and partnered with Handlelife where he has worked with multiple NBA All Stars, elite college players and youth athletes. Coach Rose is great at building confidence, creating a competitive learning environment, team building, and challenging players to help them reach their full potential.