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March 12, 2013 > Legendary Husky coach mourned

Legendary Husky coach mourned

An icon of high school sports in Fremont died March 5, 2013 at age 80. Jim Ingram, head football coach of the Washington High School football program followed another legend, Bill Walsh, leading the Huskies from 1960-1975 and again from 1979-2002. He leaves an impressive record of 12 Mission Valley Athletic League titles, 230 wins and was instrumental in shaping high school football in Fremont and, on a deeper level, profoundly influenced the lives of thousands of players and students in his four decades of coaching and education.

Following a college career as a two-way lineman with Humboldt State, Jim Ingram began coaching Washington High School's football team in 1960 and, after a hiatus in the mid-'70s, returned to the position he loved in 1979. Ingram remained as the Huskies coach until his retirement after the 2002 season.

Ingram was honored Oct. 18, 2009 at Tak Fudenna Stadium where he had reigned since its construction in the early 1970s; a bronze bust of him was recently installed in front of the fieldhouse that bears his name. The idea of honoring the Fremont icon originated with one of Ingram's greatest rivals and friends, John F. Kennedy High School icon, retired Coach Pete Michaletos.

Coach Ingram - known as "Coach I" to all who played for him or otherwise knew him will be remembered fondly. At the ceremony in 2009, Retired Army Colonel Chuck Wittebort (class of '61) who played on Ingram's first team, admitted that the team wasn't sure what to make of their new coach at the time. After all, the team had been successful under Coach I's predecessor, a guy named Bill Walsh. Yes, that Bill Walsh.

"We thought he might be just another guy who thought he could coach," remembered Wittebort. "But Coach Ingram was just as serious about winning as Coach Walsh."

Wittebort summed up Ingram's coaching philosophy, which was echoed numerous times during the day: "Success was built around the team, not the individual; there were no prima donnas."

Leonard Fudenna, a member of the 1967 and '68 undefeated Husky teams, recalled the combative spirit Coach I instilled in his team. "He loved a good fight," said Fudenna, "even if we lost the fight."

1980 alum Arnie Mozzetti was on the '79 team summed up his comments, "To be a Husky was to be part of a special breed."

Aaron Ingram ('91), the coach's grandson, played for Coach I and became a coach himself. He called his grandfather "a great communicator, a teacher who is always teaching," and thanked the coach for preparing him for life.

Lyle West ('95), who played college ball at Chabot and San Jose State and was drafted by the New York Giants, primarily a special teams player on the 2000 Giants team that went to the Super Bowl. "There's an energy that Coach had that made people who'd never played football want to play for Coach I," said West.

Coach I summarized his feelings on that day, saying, "I think I found a fit in Washington." Scrutinizing the first draft of the bust which would finally be installed just weeks before his death, Coach Ingram commented, "He needs a haircut."


Editor's Note:
Excerpts from Tri-City Voice archives, October 28, 2009 (www.tricityvoice.com) or http://www.tricityvoice.com/articlefiledisplay.php?issue=2009-10-28&file=story1.txt

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