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August 12, 2009 > Remembering a coaching legend

Remembering a coaching legend

Submitted By Rich Swift, Tim Hess and Gordon Crosby
Photos By William Mancebo

On July 29, the Bay Area lost on of its most well respected coaches, a man who had been coaching for more than 40 years, beginning in 1965 in Tennyson; ending in 2008 at Newark Memorial.

On Friday, August 7, Newark Memorial High School opened its gym and conducted a ceremony to remember Coach Thomas Crocker. In speaking with Coach Crocker's son Rick, he mentioned Newark Memorial's Athletic Director Rich Swift, Newark Memorial wrestling Head Coach Tim Hess and a friend/colleague Gordon Crosby as the best people to explain the legacy of Coach Crocker. Here's what they said:

Newark Memorial AD Rich Swift: The passing of veteran water polo and swimming Coach Tom Crocker will leave a void within the Cougar Athletic program. In his 43-year coaching career, Tom coached football, wrestling, swimming and water polo. While at NMHS, he coached swimming for 25 years and water polo for 12 years.

He was a man full of life and looked forward to each day that he spent on the pool deck getting to coach his kids. His enthusiasm was infectious. He was very well respected within the aquatics community. He was a man who placed tremendous value on his family, always looking forward to the next visit or phone call. He placed these same values upon his students and athletes.

Tom Crocker's legacy will live through the many he taught and coached.

Coach Tim Hess: I've known Coach Crocker since I began teaching and coaching at Newark Memorial in 1989. At first, our connection was mostly as coaching comrades. When our daughters Danielle (22) and Alyssa (17) got involved in the Newark Bluefins swim team as young girls, our relationship changed and I got to know Coach Crocker on a deeper level.

Our friendship grew as our daughters transitioned into the NMHS aquatics program where they had the privilege of being coached by him in both water polo and swimming. What I most appreciated about Coach Crocker is the genuine love he showed for his athletes. Coach Crocker brought honor to the coaching profession. He was passionate, intense and demanding as he was training his teams; but he cared deeply for each one of them.

He understood the big picture about coaching; that the main goal wasn't about wins and losses on the scoreboard, but about developing his athletes to achieve personal excellence and helping them to become winners in life. I am so thankful to have known him, and to have him be such an important part of our daughters high school athletic experience is a wonderful blessing.

Mr. Gordon Crosby: As I reflect on the time that I have spent with Coach Crocker a few things come to mind:

-Hard work and dedication pays off. Many think that they can show up to a competition and something will magically happen to make them faster. This couldn't be further from the truth. Those that stay dedicated to a goal will succeed;

-Make the pool a place of positive experiences. There are alumni that come by all the time to see Coach Crocker. They enjoyed their time when they were here;

-Be prepared: It's better to be over prepared than being caught empty handed; and

-Coach Crocker always gave kids another chance.

Coach Crocker was a staple for both Tennyson and Newark Memorial athletics. Included with coaching stops at both Tennyson and Newark Memorial, Crocker also headed the Newark Bluefins of the East Bay Swim League and assisted on Ohlone's water polo team. Here is the complete list of all Coach Crocker's coaching stops in his illustrious career:

1965-1971: Tennyson High assistant football coach with Norm Prince;
1965-1985: Tennyson High head swimming/diving coach;
1965-1979: AAU Blue Fins Swim Team head coach;
1972-1979: Tennyson High water polo coach;
1979-1980: Ohlone College assistant water polo coach with Jack Croghan;
1986-2008: Newark Memorial High head swimming coach;
1985-1996: Tennyson High head football coach;
1997-2004: Newark Blue Fins Swim Club coach; and
1997-2008: Newark-Memorial High head water polo coach.

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