Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Legends Dinner

About seven or eight years ago a group of old time Ventura County coaches got together at Santino's Pizza and Pasta Restaurant next to Ventura College to renew friendships and tell retell funny stories about coaching kids and coaching against each other.  It started out with about five of us and over the years has been as large as ten people as different people both old and somewhat younger joined us in these twice a year reunions.

It was at one of these dinners about four years ago that a young coach in attendance looked around the table and decreed that he was having "dinner with the legends."  So, since that night, we have officially dubbed these fun nights as "Legends Dinners."

Last night was our first "Legends Dinner" since I returned from Sicily.  It was a small group this time as many of our usual suspects were out of town due to the holidays but we still had a GREAT time as we swapped tales, ate pizza and watched the Chicago Bears beat the Green Bay Packers 20-17 in overtime on Monday Night Football.

Three of the Legends...
Jack Loritz, Mike Sanders and
Chris Pagliaro

Jack has always been the spearhead of these meetings and is a retired high school counselor.  He was the longtime, highly successful track coach at Newbury Park H.S.  Last night he was on a roll describing his experiences at his recent Canoga Park High School 55th reunion.  Since none of us believe for a minute that he graduated in only four years, I would hazard to guess that he is probably 85 years old!

Mike coached for many years at the college Division III level as well as at the high school level. Locally, he was a very successful head coach at Thousand Oaks H.S. and is currently an assistant coach and the Counselor for Athletes at College of the Canyons.  The Cougars spent most of the year as California's #1 ranked Junior College football team.

Chris, who proudly admits that he grew up in Chicago, was the first head coach in Newbury Park H.S. history.  Now retired but still moonlighting as a blues singer, he spent the last 20+ years at Santa Barbara City College as an assistant coach and Counselor for Athletes.  His family's roots are in a small town near Palermo in Sicily and he plans to visit us in Catania this spring.  The stories he would relate to us about his experiences coaching football in Italy years ago were a huge influence on my decision to go to Catania last season.


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