Coach Keith “Kiki” Esparza is President and Head Coach of Valley Stars Basketball Academy, a nonprofit organization established in 2016. He was fortunate to meet Virgil Watson, Reggie Reed and Billy Reed, coaches at Los Angeles Valley College (LAVC) who were wonderful mentors, when he attended basketball camp in 1987. Coach Kiki says these three men cannot possibly know how much they inspired him to follow their coaching styles and philosophies. He began working as a summer counselor at LAVC in 1989 and then refereeing in 1996. As a result, he has officiated high school and recreational basketball games for more than 20 years.

After working in the family restaurant from the bottom up while still coaching and refereeing, Coach Kiki realized the importance of attending college. He then started attending part-time and eventually received his B.A. in Communications from CSUN. Years later, he also graduated from culinary school. He states that there are many similarities in coaching and cooking, beginning with knowing the basic fundamentals and techniques. Both require thinking on your feet, creativity, ability to adjust at a moment’s notice, continually teaching and re-evaluating and great ingredients (the players).

These two passions, basketball and cooking, leave Coach Kiki with very little time to enjoy other activities. However, when he does have free time, he enjoys watching Lakers’, Rams’ and Dodgers’ games. He also enjoys ushering at his local church when he is not coaching basketball. His favorite activity, however, is hanging out with his little dog, Betty Boop.