(Photo taken by Juan Otero, St. Francis High School.)
The San Francisco 49ers name Saint Francis Head Coach Greg Calcagno, the 49ers 2016 Coach of the Year.
Each week of the high school season, the San Francisco 49ers select a head coach that demonstrates an especially high level of leadership and inspiration as the Charlie Wedemeyer Coach of the Week. All of the selected coaches are top-notch. They are outstanding role models to not only their players, but their coaching staff, schools and communities. The 2016 football season saw an especially elite group of coaches who were true leaders of young men and represented the game with the utmost integrity.
As the 2016 high school season concludes, the Charlie Wedemeyer Memorial Coach of the Week program names one of our ten excellent coaches as the 2016 Coach of the Year. Many coaches were highlighted over the course of the long, strenuous high school season, but it was our week one coach that specifically stood out amongst this group. Saint Francis Head Coach Greg Calcagno has been selected as the San Francisco 49ers 2016 Coach of the Year.
The Saint Francis Lancers were a CCS powerhouse all season long. Coach Calcagno led his Lancers to the semifinal round of the CCS Division II playoffs where they were ultimately defeated by Serra High School. St. Francis, Serra, and Valley Christian shared the West Catholic Athletic League championship, as all three schools finished 6-1 in league play. Calcagno's Lancers finished 10-2 on the season with only the Serra Padres managing to beat them in 2016.
The Calcagno family name has been a familiar influential name at Saint Francis for years, as the family has been heavily involved with the school for generations. Coach Calcagno essentially grew up on the Lancers campus from the earliest of ages, and the football program has been under the leadership of a Calcagno for much of the program's existence. Coach Calcagno's father, Ron, initiated the lineage back in 1972 where the legendary coach led the Lancers to 11 CCS championships over the course of his renowned 23-year coaching stint.
"With my dad coaching there, I basically grew up running around Saint Francis. Friday nights were always spent there as a child. I was a ball boy for them as soon as I was old enough to do so," said Coach Calcagno.
Greg played for his father and was the quarterback and captain of the 1982 Saint Francis team that went 14-0 and went on to be the school's first undefeated team.
Calcagno graduated from Saint Francis in 1983 and went on to continue to follow in his father's footsteps. Greg Calcagno played at Santa Clara University, as did his father.
After his playing career ended, Calcagno spent 20 successful years working in the construction and payment processing industries before the opportunity came up to work at his alma mater.
"I started working at Saint Francis on the institutional advancement side before I started coaching. The coaching thing was a 'great if it works out, but ok if it doesn't' kind of thing. I knew I wanted to work on the fundraising side regardless. As soon as the opportunity presented itself to do so, I knew it was what I wanted to do. To be able to raise money for the school and be part of advancing the school community, that was very enticing to me," said Coach Calcagno.
This is Calcagno's ninth year at the alumni director at Saint Francis High School. As Alumni Director, Calcagno organizes various events and networking opportunities for Saint Francis alumni and leads many fundraising efforts supporting the school's financial aid program.
Calcagno started his coaching career at Saint Francis as the JV assistant coach. After four years as assistant coach, he accepted the position as varsity head coach. This is Calcagno's fourth year leading the varsity squad.
This season was especially meaningful for Coach Calcagno, as this year's senior class was the group that was freshmen when he took over the varsity program. Not only was this his freshman class, but Calcagno's youngest son Patrick was also part of his group.
"It's definitely a big time family thing. I played for my dad. My wife's brothers played for my dad as well. I have coached with two of my older sons and coached my youngest. It was great to be able to coach him and see it come full circle," said Calcagno.
"This is a great group of seniors. They are a special group. They really played for each other. It was never about the statistics with them. They helped get our program back to where we should be, challenging for the CCS title every year. I'm going to miss those guys a lot," said Calcagno.
Coach Calcagno takes great pride in representing Saint Francis and is committed to not only ensuring the football program continues to reign amongst the top, but that the entire Saint Francis community sees that same success.
"I enjoy working with these kids. Working with high school aged young men and women is the most rewarding aspect from my stand point. Saint Francis is a special place. The support I receive from our administration is incredible. Our school is very much behind our football program and we have a great coaching staff that is a huge part of our success. Without their support, this isn't possible," insisted Head Coach Greg Calcagno.
Greg Calcagno's passion for the game at the high school level and his devotion to the community is evident in everything he does. He is committed to providing students with the necessary assets, character traits and skills needed to be successful young men and women in life and prepare them for a bright future. The invested personal interest he takes in each and every one of his players and students goes beyond his responsibilities as head football coach and is what separates him from most.
These sentiments are echoed among the entire Saint Francis community. Whether it is his players, a parent, a coach from his staff, a member of the grounds crew, or an administrator alike, they will all jump at the opportunity to speak to the leader Coach Calcagno is and what he means to the school.
Saint Francis principal, Patricia Tennant, couldn't speak highly enough of Calcagno.
"I am glad to have the opportunity to speak about Greg because I know Greg and I know he would never talk about his legacy at Saint Francis unless specifically asked, and even then, he would downplay what it truly means to this school. That's just the kind of man he is," said Tennant.
"I would say he is the quintessential, classic high school coach that you would only see in movies. With Greg it's kids first, winning second, and when I say that I mean it from the bottom of my heart. It's not just a cliché with him. I'm not saying he isn't competitive; Greg is very, very competitive and takes every win and loss to heart. But he teaches kids how to win well and how to compete with character and integrity. And that's because he himself is an upstanding man of great character and he will never let down his standards. The kids truly want to live up to his expectations," continued Tennant.
An elite football coach – absolutely. However, Coach Calcagno is so much more than simply a successful coach at Saint Francis High School. His character, integrity, leadership, and commitment to the entire high school community is astounding, and that is uncontested by his players, staff, colleagues and competitors alike.
Congratulations to Head Coach Greg Calcagno, the San Francisco 49ers Coach of the Year.