With experience coaching in the Big Sky Conference, player on CWU’s 1995 National Championship team is former teammate of head coach Beau Baldwin
Cherokee Valeria, a former college teammate of Eastern Washington University head football coach Beau Baldwin, has been hired as EWU’s new cornerbacks coach.
A member of Central Washington University’s 1995 team which won the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) football title, Valeria brings seven years of collegiate coaching experience to Eastern. Most recently, he was an assistant coach at Southeast Missouri State.
Valeria has had a player rank among the nation's top 30 in interceptions in four of his last six years as a position coach, dating back to his two-year stint as coach at Central Washington. He has coached three all-conference players at the college level, including a pair who received all-region recognition and one preseason All-American.
“I’ve known Cherokee since the early 90’s, but this will be my first year coaching with him,” said Baldwin. “Everybody I’ve talked to at every place he’s coached, have just raved about what he has brought their program. He’s been praised not only with his coaching of cornerbacks, but in the office with recruiting and his knowledge of computers. There are so many things behind the scenes that take place, and he brings a lot of those skills we need. He’s going to strengthen our office in a lot of different ways.”
Valeria, 36, coached defensive backs at SEMO, which finished the 2011 season 3-8 after advancing to the NCAA Football Championship Subdivision Playoffs the year before. The school’s defense ranked 23rd in the FCS in passing defense, allowing just 182.7 yards per game. He also served as assistant recruiting coordinator and was the team’s pro football liaison.
A year earlier and coached by 2010 Eddie Robinson Coach of the Year winner Tony Samuel, the Redhawks lost to EWU 37-17 on Dec. 4, 2010, in the first round of the FCS Playoffs at Roos Field in Cheney, Wash.
Valeria spent the 2010 season as Director of Football Operations at Cal Poly, which is one of four new schools joining the Big Sky Conference in 2012. He was that school’s pro liaison, and also worked with the defensive staff for the 7-4 Mustangs, who ranked 14th in FCS in rushing defense. Valeria also started the Mustang Pride program, helping Cal Poly football players reach out to the local community.
Prior to working at Cal Poly, Valeria spent three seasons as cornerbacks coach at Idaho State under John Zamberlin, a former EWU assistant and former head coach at CWU. Valeria coached D.J. Clark of the Carolina Panthers during his time with the Bengals football program. Clark earned All-Big Sky honors twice and finished third in ISU history with 15 interceptions. Valeria developed and implemented a study hall program that helped produce 17 Big Sky All-Academic players in his three seasons as academic coordinator at ISU.
Valeria was also the cornerbacks coach in 2005 and 2006 under Zamberlin at Central Washington, where Baldwin also served as an assistant coach from 1994-2002. Current Eastern defensive coordinator John Graham was on the coaching staff at Central when Valeria was there. Valeria coached with new EWU tight ends coach Brian Strandley at both ISU (2007-09) and CWU (2005).
In 2005, the Wildcats won the Great Northwest Athletic Conference title after going 8-2 overall and undefeated in league play. Central Washington's defense ranked 11th nationally in turnover margin, with both of Valeria's cornerbacks (Brandon Kennedy and Josiah Wilfong) earning first team All-GNAC honors that year. Kennedy received third team all-region honors and finished ranked third in CWU history with 14 interceptions. Wilfong earned second team all-region honors in 2005.
Valeria has also coached in minor league professional football, including the Everett Hawks of the National Indoor Football League in 2004. He was named the 2004 Northwest Region Assistant Coach of the Year by Minor League Football News after helping lead the West Sound Saints to the Northwest Football League (NWFL) title game. In 2003, he coached the Eastside Hawks in the NWFL.
From 1998-2004, Valeria coached two seasons each at Cedarcrest and Ellensburg high schools in Washington State.
As a player, Valeria was a wide receiver at Central Washington from 1993-97, and helped lead the Wildcats to the 1995 NAIA National Championship. He graduated with a degree in biology in 1999 and the 1995 Central team was inducted into the school’s Hall of Fame in 2005. Baldwin played for the Wildcats from 1990-93 before beginning his coaching career in 1994 at CWU.
A 1993 graduate of Waiakea High School in Hilo, Hawaii, Valeria was born June 13, 1975 in Honolulu. His given first name is Brandon, but he goes by Cherokee because of his Native American/Italian descent. His mother is originally from Missouri and is a member of the Cherokee Indian tribe, and his grandfather was in the military stationed in Hawaii. He has a son named Ayosgi Uwasa (which means “Last Warrior” in Cherokee) and a daughter named T’Kia Li (which means “Message from God”).