Joe Davidson

Hometown Report: Top prep coaches get their due

Published: Tuesday, Jun. 12, 2012 - 12:00 am | Page 2C
Last Modified: Tuesday, Jun. 12, 2012 - 9:09 am

Players generally regard a great high school coach as too powerful to cross and too important to disappoint.

Here is a glimpse of what made seven former and current area coaches unique and what landed them in the Sac-Joaquin Section Hall of Fame, with an Oct. 14 induction at Power Balance Pavilion.

Max Miller – Known as "Mad Max" for his frantic sideline behavior with Rio Americano, Cordova and Johnson football from 1974 through 2007, Miller won a section-record 254 games. He could be comedic and volcanic with his players, and no one disputed his desire. Miller stocked his classroom fridge with sandwiches for any student who came to school hungry. He tearfully stepped away as a head coach after the 2007 season after two postgame ambulance rides for exhaustion and returned in 2010 to coach the defense at Folsom, which won a state championship that season.

Harvey Tahara – The gentlemanly McClatchy basketball coach was the Mount Rushmore of the Metro from 1979 to 2011, first with the boys, then the girls. Tahara relished the role of undersize underdog. His boys teams finessed taller, more celebrated teams to victory in the Metro League during the 1980s and early 1990s. When a blue-chip player from another school showed up during summer workouts looking to transfer, Tahara turned him away when the athlete frowned on academics. When Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame coach Pete Carril stopped by for Tahara's final practice as girls coach, the old Kings mentor smiled and said, "That Tahara. You can tell there is greatness."

Bill Baxter – The winningest girls basketball coach in section history, Baxter initially wanted no part of the sport at El Camino. Baxter enjoyed the water, leading the girls and boys water polo teams to a combined 31 league titles from 1974 to 1987. Only when administrators pleaded with him to help save the school's girls basketball program did he make the transition. Baxter introduced the region to fullcourt pressure defense, which matched his tireless nature, and won 601 games from 1987 to 2010.

Gary Summerhays – No regional coach won with more teams in more sports than Summerhays at Del Campo. His ability to make teams feel like family was at the root of his success. That he also raised 11 children was a wonder. Summerhays coached girls and boys soccer teams to a combined 15 section titles. He coached the boys basketball team for one season, going 24-4 and reaching the Division I section finals in 1986. His golf teams won section, NorCal and state honors.

Paul Rose – The most successful soccer coach in state history with 656 wins – and counting – at Jesuit, Rose insists he isn't even the best coach at the dinner table. He defers to his wife, Carol, a former soccer coach. Paul Rose has three national Coach of the Year awards, nine section titles and 28 league championships.

Mary Jo Truesdale – The still-active Sheldon softball coach with 597 career victories hands out marbles as her teams seek to "win all the marbles." She is humbled that the Sheldon scoreboard bears her name, asking, "I'm not dead yet, am I?" Truesdale won her fifth D-I section crown last month in what peers deemed her finest coaching effort.

Charlie Lee – The only member of this Hall of Fame coaching class who will be inducted posthumously, Lee was the Bella Vista wrestling coach from 1963 to 1984. Lee's Broncos won five section titles, placed in the top three in the state meet five times and produced eight individual state champions. Lee often said his greatest joy was coaching his son David, the state's first three-time champion, and working with his tournament-coordinating wife Ralphene, who joined Charlie and David as members of the California Wrestling Hall of Fame in 2003.

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