“Working as a coach and as a teacher is probably one of the most fulfilling things a person could do in a vocational profession. Nothing could be more rewarding than to hopefully have an impact on students’ lives, on players’ lives, and on the community as a whole.”
These were words straight from the mouth of Coach Donald Toscano.
Don Toscano played football at Los Banos High School and in Merced College in Los Banos in the 1960’s but was more excited to talk about what it was like being a coach, “You know, being a player is very fulfilling but that’s on a personal level. Whereas coaching kids and being part of a community program is what’s really important.”
He said, “When I coached, we were in Division 2 and we were the smallest school in the state of California that was in Division 2, and we won two separate championships.”
He was referencing his teams from 1988 and 1991, who won the SJS championship.
When talking about his coaching experience, he excitedly shared what it was like going up against other schools much larger than his team in Los Banos, “One year we were ranked third in the state and the next year we were ranked fourth in the state of California. In one of those championships, we were in a situation where only the lead champions went on to play. We were always playing schools three times our size. We were 880 and they were 1,100 all the way up to 2,200.”
When remembering all the players he’s coached over the years, Coach Toscano mused on what makes a player special, “There’s this idea that talent is what makes a kid special. It’s not. Does it make him a good player? Yeah! But you know what’s special is that kid that doesn’t have a lot of ability and yet he comes to practice and busts his butt. He’s there every day working. Those are the kids that are special. They have that drive!”
Coach Toscano went on to state that good character comes from the home and is reinforced on the field and in sports.
“When talking about players, another thing is that people believe that football creates character in kids. It doesn’t. It reinforces it. Character is created in the home and comes directly from the parents. When a child has good character that’s only reinforced in sports and on the field. That’s thanks to their parents for putting that good character in them.”
“I used to say, ‘I want all my freshman to play,’ so I instituted two things. I said, ‘Number one: we do away with freshman championships,’ because I didn’t want any pressure on freshman coaches. Don’t win championships, play the kids. And the second thing I instituted was what they call The Fifth Quarter. I said, ‘Let’s do away with championships and institute a fifth quarter for all those kids that maybe didn’t get to really play.’ Because I wanted those kids who didn’t get a chance during the first four quarters to be able to play.”
When he stepped down from coaching at Los Banos High School in 2003, he passed the clipboard on to Coach Gary Caropreso, father of current coach Dustin Caropreso. He has since become the coach for his grandkid’s football team.
When asked about how it was to now coach his own grandchildren, he laughed and said, “Well, they probably coach me. But how it all started is, I still work clinics, I work out of state, and I work southern California, and my daughter enlisted me to coach basketball. You know, I’m a terrible basketball coach but I make sure the kids learn the skill. Then I coached them in a recreation football team, which was a good time.”
The biggest message that was repeated throughout the interview with Coach Donald Toscano was his deep appreciation for community, “I think that head coaches tend to take too much credit. The truth is, whatever success we have here, whatever success we have on the field as coaches is not on the head coach it’s on the staff and the kids and the community support. Without the staff who run the games, without the band, without the cheerleaders, without the parents and the kids who work hard, we wouldn’t have anything.”
“I had a great staff and great parents, players, community support, band, and cheerleaders. That’s the true philosophy, community. Community is the most important thing and giving back to the community is the most important thing someone can do.