A stand-up guy

Ron Calcagno ’64 inducted into the San Jose Sports Hall of Fame

In early November, Ron Calcagno stood up to accept his induction plaque at the San Jose Sports Hall of Fame dinner. He was honored, in part, for 24 years of coaching at St. Francis High School in Mountain View, where he compiled one of California’s best all-time high school football win-loss records. More significant, he coached hundreds of young men, many of whom grew up to become leaders of Silicon Valley. Several dozen of those men were among the crowd of 700 gathered at the HP Pavilion for the occasion—and when Calcagno stood up it was an emotional highlight of the evening.

Calcagno began teaching and coaching at St. Francis shortly after graduating from Santa Clara. In 1972, he was named the school’s head football coach. By the time he left the school in 1996 to take a position as an executive with the Oakland A’s, his teams had won 233 games, earned 12 championships in the tough West Catholic League, and taken 11 Central Coast Section titles, including five in a row from 1991 to 1995.

“I know it sounds trite, but when Ron coached, he had a W.I.N. philosophy—What’s Important Now,” said Calcagno’s younger brother Ray ’68, who coached alongside Ron. “He put an emphasis on his players both in and out of season, in the classroom, what they did after school, what they did later on in their lives.”

World Series contenders:Calcagno is in the middle row, second from right.
Photo: SCU Archives

Ron Calcagno’s coaching method was one of persuasive perspective. Tall and blessed with piercing blue eyes, he commanded the attention of his players and students. He wanted his teams to be efficient and successful but also have fun. He used anecdotes to illustrate his point. He tried to get every player on the team into every game for at least one play. After every Friday night game, he ordered his team to assemble on Saturday morning and asked them to dress up as the mascot of the next opponent, awarding a prize to the best costume.

Calcagno will confess that he co-opted much of this technique from SCU ’s Pat Malley. In the early 1960s, Calcagno quarterbacked the Bronco football team and earned Little All-American honors. Come springtime, he would don his baseball gear. He was the catcher for the 1962 Bronco team that reached the College World Series, advancing to the championship game before losing in extra innings to the University of Michigan.

Today, Calcagno lives in retirement in the South Bay. His grandson Michael will be a senior at SCU next year. Ron Calcagno occasionally visits his old high school campus and takes in a football game. When he does, he walks through the gates of Ron Calcagno Stadium. The school renamed the facility several years ago, to honor a stand-up guy.

Mark Purdy

post-image Photo: SCU Archives
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