Oaks Christian School is a special place. That is a sentiment agreed upon by nearly every person who walks through the hallways, into the Bedrosian Pavilion for performing arts and onto athletic fields. For most alumni, the memory of Oaks Christian conjures up memories of laughter with friends, victories on the athletic fields, performances in front of crowds. But for some, there is a deeper desire. A desire to return to where they came from, to pass their knowledge on to the next generation.
For Malik Cyphers, Marc Tyler and Julie Bennett, that meant coming back to Oaks Christian to coach. Cyphers is on the football staff as the varsity defensive backs coach and passing coordinator, while Tyler joined the staff this year as a JV and varsity running backs coach. Bennett is the head girls’ volleyball coach and has been for the past three years.
All three were some of the most talented athletes to ever come out of Oaks Christian, with Tyler being named the 2006 Gatorade State Football Player of the Year for California and eventually playing football at the University of Southern California. Cyphers earned a full-ride football scholarship to play at Portland State, and Bennett played collegiate volleyball at Pepperdine before playing professionally in Puerto Rico and Azerbaijan for four years.
Bennet was also featured in California Lutheran University's 2022 40 Under Forty as an up and coming young professional to watch who was making an impact in the Conejo Valley.
All three reflect back on the foundational preparation and values formed during their OCS years.
“Oaks definitely prepared me well for the next level in a lot of different ways,” Cyphers said. “Academically, I felt I was able to adjust really well. And athletically, I felt like we were college-ready when we left Oaks Christian because of the coaching that we had.”
Tyler corroborated that point specifically. “We had Clay Matthews senior, who played in the NFL for 19 years coaching us. The things that he said still stick with me today, almost 17 years later.”
The coaches have been given the unique opportunity to mentor and coach in the same facilities in which they were once mentored and coach, and they don’t take that opportunity lightly.
“It is so cool to be able to mentor these kids,” said Bennett. “I tell them, ‘I’ve been in your shoes. I have also been at the next level, and at the highest level. I’ve had to balance school, sport, relationships, faith, all of it. I cherish the time that we all talk and discuss our devotional because I know what they are going through.”
For each of them, coming back to coach at Oaks Christian was an easy decision. They all wanted to mentor kids the way they were mentored in high school and provide the support to do so.
“Coming back was an easy decision for me,” Tyler said. “This is the place that made me who I am. A lot of my values come from Oaks Christian. To be able to come and help these kids get better is all I wanted to do.”
His excitement to be here is palpable.
“I set my alarm for 5:30 every morning. And every morning I wake up before my alarm, excited to start the day and excited to be here.”