Each June, the California Coaches Association honors dozens of coaches, as well as others who contribute to athletics, up and down the state for the tremendous impact they have had on their campuses and in their communities. The association would like to bring recognition to these coaches and fine people who have supported athletics in California for many decades. The Mission of the California Coaches Association is to provide a professional organization uniting all coaches in California dedicated to maintaining the highest possible standards for athletic competition and coaching conditions in California. The organization’s annual awards ceremony dinner is slated for Saturday, June 13 in Sacramento. (Whether or not this event will be held is up in the air at this time with the current stay at home order due to Covid 19. CCA leadership should have a decision by May 10.) “The annual awards dinner is the highlight of the year for our association. I absolutely love sitting there and listening to the vast stories of the influence of coaches who have dedicated their lives to building young men and women on and off the fields, courts and tracks,” explained Chris Fore, President of CCA. Fore went on to say “We are in an interesting time in the world of coaching, not just because of the current virus situation shutting down schools, but because coaching has changed in so many ways. Unfortunately, the on-campus coach is becoming more and more of a rarity. The demands of coaching have also vastly changed over the course of the last 10 years specifically. It has become a year round venture with unlimited demands on our coaches. We need to support our coaches more than ever. And this awards night is one way that we try to do this. It is not often that coaches are applauded for their efforts. Coaches do not look for these nights of recognition, but it sure is nice to be able to celebrate them.”
At the top of the honorees this year are the three coaches being inducted into the Hall of Fame: Donald Ardissone, Don Lippi and Barbara Prato. Donald Ardissone has developed both Major League Baseball players and National Football League players, a rare feat these days. He won Central Coast Section Championships in baseball at Bellarmine High School in 1981, 1985, 1986 and 1987, and was inducted into the Bellarmine Hall of Fame in 2006. He also won a CCS Football Championship at Bellarmine in 1981. Ardissone also won an Oakland Section Championship at Skyline High School. He has also been honored with the following awards during his prestigious career: Section Athletic Director of the year in 2008, CIF Distinguished Service Award in 2011, and the Cal Hi Sports Baseball Coach of the Year in 1987. Don Lippi is an energetic and passionate coach who spent 42 years coaching basketball in California at both St. Ignatius (San Francisco), St. Joseph (Alameda), St. Patrick/St. Vincent (Vallejo) and Skyline (Oakland) high schools. He won an astounding 16 League Championships, 14 Section Championships and 4 State Championships while amassing more than 900 wins. Lippi has positively influenced thousands of students and student-athletes through his classroom as well as the basketball court. He was selected as the California Coaches Association Coach of the Year in 2000. Barbara Prato spent 29 years coaching tennis, where her teams won 250 matches and 19 Section Championships. She also devoted 19 years of her life as an Athletic Director at Lowell High School in San Francisco where her teams won 164 championships in 16 different sports. She was acknowledged as the California State Athletic Director of the Year by the California State Athletic Directors Association in 1988. The National Federation of High Schools honored her in 1998 with a high school coach’s award, the same year she was selected as a Franklin Select Circle Tennis honoree. That same year, our association also honored her as the Tennis Coach of the Year. In 2017, she was selected to the San Francisco Prep Hall of Fame and the Lowell High School Hall of Fame in 2003.
The Coaches of the Year include multiple coaches from the Sac-Joaquin Section, including Joey Rollings of Sheldon High School, Dave Rodriguez of Yuba City High School, Tom Isaac of Placer High School for boys’ tennis, and Spencer Elliott for boys’ track and field at Davis High School.
The Dan Fukushima Lifetime Achievement Award goes to someone who has been an active coach for a minimum of 30 years at either the varsity or non-varsity level, and exemplifies the ideals set forth by our association. This year’s honoree is John Berry of Kelseyville High School of the CIF North Coast Section. John taught middle school, high school and junior college for 35 years. Kelseyville won 13 conference titles under Berry. He has had 19 golfers play at the collegiate level, five of which are PGA professionals. Berry has been a member of the NCS Management Committee since 1988 and has served as the stadium announcer for NCS basketball and football playoff games at Kelseyville.