SAN DIEGO — A head coach is getting recognition for being in charge of the Torrey Pines Holiday Classic and finally bringing it back after the pandemic.

Since 1990, the holiday classic has welcomed high school basketball teams from all over the country to put their skills to the test.

For head coach John Olive this year feels like a return to form after the COVID-19 pandemic plagued the tournament for the past three years.

“Nothing better for a high school kid to walk into a gym, in a big-time game and you know that electricity in the crowd, it just pumps you up,” Olive explained. “So rewarding for me to see kids experience that.”

Eighty teams from all over the country play in five different locations showcasing the best players in the nation.

“Seventy NBA players over the years have played in our tournament so we have a lot of good players and a good way for them to showcase their talent,” Olive said.

After dealing with COVID-19-related issues since 2019, Olive had to deal with travel issues.

Hard work that paid off.

“Feels back to normal, as best as normal can feel. We’ve had great crowds every night and a lot of good basketball,” Olive said.

Torrey Pines players also enjoy the crowd’s presence.

“As a little kid, it was always my dream to play in front of such a big crowd and getting to have all that energy in the gym is amazing,” said

Coach Olive has been in charge of the holiday classic for the past 26 years. During that time he has built a lot of relationships.

Olive has a special connection with one of his opponents, Archbishop Mitty head coach Tim Kennedy, who Olive coached at Loyal Marymount.

“He made me a better man, better basketball player,” Kennedy explained. “The way he went about things, he still does, he’s still instilling that into young men. These guys don’t know how lucky they are to have him as a mentor and a coach.”

Olive is grateful for local basketball fans, supporting the tournament over the decades.

“Without their commitment, year after year after year, this wouldn’t be possible,” Olive said.