Joe Davidson

3 honored as Pete Saco Award winners for impact in sports and beyond

McClatchy Lions head coach Harvey Tahara directs his team during their Division I playoff match against the Kennedy Cougars Wednesday, March 3, 2010 at the Spanos Center in Stockton, Calif.
McClatchy Lions head coach Harvey Tahara directs his team during their Division I playoff match against the Kennedy Cougars Wednesday, March 3, 2010 at the Spanos Center in Stockton, Calif. ccostas@sacbee.com

Three prominent figures in the regional high school sporting scene will be honored as the inaugural Pete Saco Award winners, as recognized by the Kings and the Kings Foundation for community impact on and off the playing arena.

Each of the winners will be introduced during the Kings-76ers game on Tuesday at Sleep Train Arena. Saco retired last summer after a long, distinguished career as the Sac-Joaquin Section commissioner, and he was big on character, commitment, class and accountability.

“The Kings are proud to honor Pete Saco’s legacy because he embodies the best of our community,” Kings President Chris Granger said in a release. “This year’s honored coaches and student-athletes are incredible examples of how sports can go beyond the court and serve as a force for positive change in the community.”

The winners are:

▪ Scholarship Award: Mikaela Nocetti. A senior at El Camino High School, Nocetti was The Bee's Volleyball Player of the Year last fall, the best player on the region's best team.

A four-year starter and a 4.3 student, Nocetti was a driving force behind the Eagles winning four Capital Athletic League championships and three section titles. Headed to the University of Portland on scholarship, Nocetti was a campus peer counselor, stressing involvement and teamwork, and she coached youth swimmers at Arden Hills.

▪ Community Impact Award: Rodriguez High School boys basketball team and coach Nate Rankin.

Ranklin led the Fairfield school to a school-record 27 wins a year ago and a return trip to the section playoffs this season, but he is best known for imploring his student-athletes to give back to the community. Mustangs players helped the needy, and they ran basketball clinics and camps to kids in Haiti and locally.

▪ Lifetime Achievement Award: Harvey Tahara.

A coaching fixture in Sacramento for decades, Tahara was known as much for his class and charisma as for how his teams competed and played the right way. Now retired from teaching and coaching at McClatchy, Tahara is one of just four coaches in section history to win section basketball championships with a girls and boys teams, and he won a combined 500 games from the late 1970s through last decade. Tahara was so revered that the McClatchy gym floor bears the name of he and his wife, "Janice and Harvey Tahara Court." Tahara is a member of the section Hall of Fame.

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