They called him “Coach”
A San Francisco football coaching legend, Vince Tringali, died on March 31. He was 81. Tringali grew up in North Beach and played nose guard on the fabled "glory team" of USF (1951-52), on a defensive line that included the likes of Gino Marchetti, Dick Stanfel, and Bob St. Clair, all of whom went on to become stars in the NFL. The ’51 USF team went undefeated, but wasn’t invited to play in any bowls, because the team refused to leave two black teammates (including Ollie Matson) at home. They’re known forever as the “unbeaten, untied and uninvited” team and could be considered the greatest college team in the history of the Bay Area. After his playing years, Tringali coached the varsity football team at Saint Ignatius College Preparatory in the ‘60s. Under his leadership, the Wildcats won 19 straight games in 1962 and 1963 and earned a first-place national ranking. At S.I., he coached Gil Haskell and Bill Laveroni, who are now on the coaching staff of the Seattle Seahawks, and Dan Fouts, who played quarterback for the Chargers and earned entry into the NFL Hall of Fame. He also convinced former S.I. basketball player Igor Olshansky to switch to football and he now plays for the Dallas Cowboys. In 2006, NFL Films aired a special on Tringali. Tringali’s influence on athletes and coaches extended beyond St. Ignatius and he will be greatly missed.
The Art of Collegiate Sports
In its pursuit of offering its students a full-blown college experience, the Academy of Art University has rather quickly developed an impressive sports program offering eight sports, including men and women’s soccer; men and women’s basketball; women’s basketball, baseball, softball, men and women’s cross country, men and women’s golf and track and field. Athletic Director Jamie Williams, the former 49er tight end who now recruits volleyball and soccer players instead of catching passes from Joe Montana, is very excited about the AAU’s ever-growing Div. II sports program as it builds over its second full year in existence.
“Our motto is ‘Be Artist. Be Athlete.’” Williams said. “I’m always telling our staff and coaches that this program is a canvas for our efforts. Our immediate goal is to be competitive and establish ourselves as a Division II contender. Maybe someday we can be the first arts school to be Division I. I love watching an artist hitting a deep home run or kicking a game-winning goal.”
I’ll be taking a look at this burgeoning program next season and interviewing several of their top artists/athletes. The AAU program plays games throughout the city, so it’s a great opportunity to see Div. II schools in competition right in our backyard.
Giants Opening Day
I’ve been writing sports for at least 30 years in one capacity or another, but Giants Opening Day was my first opportunity to watch the game from the press box and I have several observations. First, cub reporters (like me at age 51) don’t get too much love in the press box. By the time I got in there, all of the seats were long gone and no one was relinquishing their spots for obvious reasons. “Where can I sit?” I asked one of the security people at the door and she told me while laughing, “You must be new.” So, I stood and learned the ropes. The scene reminded me of my pledge days in my fraternity. Most of the other reporters looked justifiably busy and had no time for a newbie, but I must say, however, that some of the bigger names were really nice to me. I ran into Jon Miller (one of the greatest sports broadcasters that have ever lived, right up there with Vin Scully, Bill King and Red Barber, in my opinion) and he actually took some time to talk to me briefly. Duane Kuiper was also a pleasure to meet. Secondly, I pulled a major snafu when I cheered for the Giants from the press box. I got nasty looks from several of the veteran reporters and one of them even reminded me that you don’t cheer in the press box. It’s taboo. The highlight of the day, in addition to a big win for the Orange & Black, was when Jerry Rice threw out the opening pitch to Steve Young. The Giants have a great chance to win the NL West this year, because they have what most teams lack—superior pitching.
Ask a Bartender
This month, I polled my bartenders to find out who will be in the NBA Finals this year and which team will take it all:
Paul McManus, Bus Stop: “Of course, I’m rooting for my Celtics, but not one team is standing out right now. The Lakers, Denver Nuggets, San Antonio and even Cleveland have issues. Watch out for the Atlanta Hawks. They’re a very good team and they could surprise.”
Kevin Corrigan, Blue Light: “I’m taking the Lakers vs. the Cavaliers and Cleveland will win in seven. It will be the coronation of King LeBron.”
Gil Hodges III, Liverpool Lil’s: “I like the Phoenix Suns to win the NBA Championship. They’re peaking at the right time and I really like the team’s chemistry. It might be a long shot, but I like the Suns.”
Kevin Young, Perry’s: “I’m going with the Miami Heat over the Denver Nuggets in the Finals. I’m tired of seeing the Lakers and we need some new blood!”