Teacher Spotlight - Alex Engel

By Nali Milne 

February 5, 2024

He teaches US History, economics, and coaches the girls basketball team. Don’t know who it is yet? What if I told you about his sneaker collection? Most upperclassmen probably know him by now, but for those who don’t, it’s Alex Engel, the one you might see walking through the halls in Dunks and Jordans, or yelling from the sidelines as Georgie Wheeler sinks a three-pointer.

Childhood and Teen Years

Engel grew up locally, attending Los Osos Middle School (LOMS), and even our very own Morro Bay High! He played basketball throughout his time at both schools. He describes himself as, "always active, a very active kid. I did basketball but I also did baseball and soccer, and even hockey at one point."

Basketball Career

When asked about his basketball career, Engel responds with passion and fondness. He started playing "organized basketball" in first grade, but says he had been playing around with a basketball since before that with his dad. He started club in fourth grade, and of course played for LOMS and MBHS. After graduating from high school, he redshirted as a freshman for Columbia University. He then played for our local community college, Cuesta, and then Menlo, a private college in Atherton, CA. When he graduated from Menlo with a bachelor’s degree in Sports Management, he moved back to SLO County. His old coach from Cuesta, who he still fondly refers to as “Coach Blair,” asked him to coach the Cuesta team with him. At 23 years old, Engel began his coaching career right after his college basketball career, and with that, his story with basketball continued.

Why did he become a teacher?

After being a college coach at Cuesta for 6 years, and at Cal Poly for 1, he needed extra income, so he started to substitute teach. He realized how similar teaching is to coaching, and came to love it. “Basketball is just teaching on the court,” Engel tells me. So, with this new interest in mind, he got his teaching credentials. After that, he got a job at Morro Bay High, and is now the US History, and Economics teacher.

Engel Demonstrates shooting techniques for local newspaper (Photo credit: The SLO Tribune)

The Sneaker Thing

When I think of Alex Engel, I think about passing him in the halls and seeing a new pair of sneakers adorning his feet every day, and it’s a big topic when he’s brought up. Most students who know him know of his sneaker collection. “Growing up, I always loved Michael Jordan,” Engel says. He talks about how Jordan was such a big inspiration to him, especially considering his interest in basketball. He played in Jordans for his entire high school experience, and still has his pair of Jordan 18s from those years. As he got into his later teen years, he realized the whole culture surrounding shoes, and began to understand it and the culture behind it. “Dunks, Air Force Ones, mostly Nike…” he says, listing off the shoes he liked most. In college, he stopped buying a lot because he didn’t have the time or the money, but as soon as he did, he got right back into it. To this day, he still collects them, wears them, and talks about them, even to his classes. “It’s become such a big part of my identity, I feel like I can represent and be who I am,” he reveals. Posters of different sneakers decorate his classroom, and even his introduction slides he presented at the beginning of the year.

By combining so many aspects of his life with things he is passionate about, such as basketball, coaching, and sneakers, he enjoys his life thoroughly. He tells me that he's never not excited to come to school and teach. "Well, sometimes I don't wanna come because I'm tired or, like, you know, the normal stuff everyone deals with, but I love teaching and I love coaching so it's never because I don't want to," Engel says as we finish up our interview. I think we can all take a page out of his book. Of course, we all know the phrase "If you love what you do, it's not work," and Engel demonstrates this perfectly.