Antioch High School pool named for former teacher, coach Greg DeCristofaro

Greg DeCristofaro. Courtesy of AUSD.

By Allen Payton

At their Wednesday, March 28, 2018 meeting, the Antioch School Board voted unanimously to name the new pool at Antioch High School after former teacher, swim/dive/water polo coach Greg DeCristofaro.

The decision was made following in which the Board encourages community participation in the process of selecting names for Facilities. That process requires a Citizen Advisory Committee to be appointed to review name suggestions and submit recommendations for the Board’s consideration.

Antioch High School formed a Citizen Advisory Committee comprising of parents, community members and staff of Antioch High School to discuss the naming and dedication of the swimming pool planned to be completed in April 2018. The Committee voted unanimously to name and dedicate the swimming pool in honor of a former teacher, swim/dive/water polo coach Greg DeCristofaro, who dedicated 37 years to Antioch High School.

They voted to name the new swimming pool facility at Antioch High “Greg DeCristofaro Aquatic Center”.

During discussion by the board, Trustee Debra Vinson said, “I don’t know who this individual is but people in the community do. I don’t know if there are any concerns to the public. Is this permanent?”

Yes, responded

I’ve known Greg for 40 years, I guess,” Board Chairman Gary Hack said. “He’s been involved from day one. He’s a great guy. Sports is his forte. My son did water polo with him years ago. If you’re going to make a choice he would be a good representative.”

“I understand from Superintendent Anello that there has been no opposition from the community,” Vinson added.

Trustee Diane Gibson-Gray said, “He was a teacher there when I was in school. My sons went there. I would have no qualms with naming anything in the district after him. But the pool site is more than apropos.”

With that the board voted unanimously for the naming.

About DeCristofaro

The Citizen Advisory Committee, made up of Lead Petitioner Catharine Harrison, Willis Ball, Craig Carson, Trine Gallegos, Antioch High Principal Louie Rocha, and Athletic Director Steve Sanchez, compiled the following background information about DeCristofaro.

It’s fitting that Greg DeCristofaro would be a swim and dive coach for decades because he’s the kind of teacher and leader who – literally and figuratively – would jump into the deep end for his students and school.

Mr. DeCristofaro – known lovingly as Coach De – taught for 37 years, his entire education career at Antioch High campus as part of a strong biology team. In that time, he coached countless students, quickly taking the lead on swim teams in the early 1970s. Soon after that, he spearheaded a boys’ water polo team and never looked back. Some two decades later, he helped the girls get their own water polo team. Over the years, there were numerous successes, including many of his teams and individual athletes making their way to championships and titles. The first year it was formed, the girls water polo team made it to the North Coast Section playoffs.

Along the way, DeCristofaro also spent some 15 years coaching the Antioch Delta Skimmer swimmers. “I had two families – the Delta Skimmers and my Panther family,” he says. If his pull to water isn’t clear – take in this detail: For 20 years during his teaching/coaching time, Coach De, wife Kathy and twin boys lived on a houseboat. “My boys didn’t have skateboards, they had wind surfboards.”

Many have fond memories of Mr. DeCristofaro, especially fellow teacher Craig Carson.

“Greg was the head boys swimming and diving coach when I came to the school in 1979,” said Carson. “He was there in the early 1970s when they had some great swimmers, including Tim Boyd and Sean Bogan to name just two. They are both in the Antioch Sports Legends Hall of Fame.” Together Coach Carson and Mr. De started the Antioch Relays in 1982 and continued running the annual swimming/diving team fundraiser for 20 years.

“(Greg) was always there for everything ‐ available to step in when needed for nearly 40 years and did so. He truly had the best interest of the kids at heart always,” Carson said.

And, there’s also Willis Ball, an AHS track coach and fellow biology teacher.

“I was busy coaching track at the same time Greg was coaching swimming,” Ball said. “I know from talking to him many times that he was the most dedicated person I ever knew when it came to wanting to do the right thing in preparing his athletes to be the best they could be. He would do whatever it took to be successful. I hope this becomes a reality in naming the swimming complex after him. It’s surely well-deserved after all the work he put in, and all the successes he had in his many years of coaching those athletes.”

Catharine Harrison, parent and community advocate, said “Coach De is a legend. While my children never swam for coach DeCristofaro (he had retired), he is well known in the aquatics community. His support and commitment for both recreational and high school swim is rock solid. His many years of dedicated, quality coaching and support of our youth should more than ensure his legacy will live on with the naming of the new AHS aquatics center.”

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