Alumni Spotlight: Tony Dorado MA '87

After receiving his bachelor’s degree in History, with a minor in Psychology, from San Jose State University, Bay Area native and SMC Graduate Kinesiology alumnus Tony Dorado MA ‘87, was eager to pursue his dream of becoming a basketball coach. In-line with this goal, he returned to his high school alma mater, Moreau Catholic High School, in Hayward, Calif., to work as the head boys’ basketball coach from 1982 to 1991 and then continued his coaching career at La Salle High School in Milwaukie, Ore.

During this time, he developed an interest in coaching at a higher level, such as collegiate basketball. As a result, Tony decided to enroll in the SMC Graduate Kinesiology program in the summer of 1984. He states “I was deeply interested in getting a master’s degree and this program had the best reputation locally. My experience took me away from just thinking about basketball and high school coaching. It exceeded all my expectations. The program forces an individual to critically think about a variety of topics while giving them the opportunity to bolster their resume.”

Thanks to his connections and the relationships he built over the years, at the age of 35, Tony joined Nike and transitioned from a career in education and coaching to the more corporate side of the sports industry. As the National Manager of High School Basketball for the past 25 years, he is primarily in charge of identifying and signing top high school teams to Nike sponsorships. To do this he emphasizes that “an unbeatable product comes with not just top of the line gear and services, but by bonding and through the relationships one establishes with the coaches of the institutions we are signing contracts with.”

Under ordinary circumstances, Mr. Dorado spends about sixty percent of his time traveling and engaging in face-to-face conversations. Although Nike continues to supply products to high schools during the pandemic, from the standpoint of support, Tony Dorado’s job has changed as he is no longer able to be physically present to observe teams and interact with coaches. Consequently, he now focuses mostly on strategic planning and brainstorming ideas on how best to nourish and fortify existing relationships.

Last but not least, Mr. Dorado was named on the “Top 100 Most Influential People in Men’s College Basketball in 2020” list and on the “100 Influential People in Women’s College Basketball” list by the Silver Waves media company which is based in Los Angeles. His award was a result of his ongoing work, not only with high schools across the country, but also due to the connections he has been able to create and reinforce between both high school and college basketball programs. Perhaps not surprisingly, Saint Mary’s Head Basketball Coach, Randy Bennett, who is a good friend of Mr. Dorado’s, is also named on the men’s college basketball list.