Changes aplenty at conclusion of tumultuous year in high school sports

Changes aplenty at conclusion of tumultuous year in high school sports

Changes aplenty at conclusion of tumultuous year in high school sports
Clockwise from top left: Bob Ralston, Mark Tran, Concord High Principal Rianne Pfaltzgraff, Megan Coddington, Matthew Harrod, and Cat Arroyo.

CONTRA COSTA COUNTY, CA — To the credit of many, most importantly the athletes, California high schools were able to jam the entire 2020-21 school year’s sports calendar into about five months as athletes, coaches, officials and administrators worked through COVID-19 challenges to get the girls and boys back to competing after the long pandemic shutdown.

Now that seniors have graduated and the dust has settled on what is hopefully a once-in-a-lifetime experience for everyone, there have been several changes in the local coaching and administrator ranks. Four of the six Concord high schools will have made changes in the athletic director position by the start of the 2021-22 school year.

Las Lomas High Principal Pat Lickiss suffered a fatal heart attack last spring.

Athletic directors Bob Ralston of Clayton Valley Charter and Mark Tran of Ygnacio Valley each stepped down from their positions at the end of the school year. Tran will become commissioner of the Diablo Athletic League, replacing Pat Lickiss who died suddenly this spring.

Ygnacio Valley also lost its football coach with Bryan Shaw resigning his post. At the same time, YV just got a new principal in Jonathan Pike and CVCHS is in the process of hiring a new Executive Director.

Megan Coddington has shared or handled athletic director duties by herself at Concord High for most of the past decade. Next fall, she’ll continue teaching and coaching her Concord softball team but baseball coach Matthew Harrod, who was co-athletic director with Coddington this past school year, will handle all AD duties.

Carondelet High is also hiring a new athletic director. Scott Kennedy was in the job for just over one year before departing months ago. Cougars water polo coach Cat Arroyo has been the acting AD.

Concord High Principal Rianne Pfaltzgraff concluded her two-year term as North Coast Section president and is turning the gavel over to Louie Rocha of Antioch High for the 2021-22 season.

The county’s high school athletics scene was dealt an unexpected blow in April when former Las Lomas High principal Lickiss passed away from complications of a heart attack. He served the Acalanes Union High School district for decades as a coach, teacher and administrator, retiring in 2010 after 17 years in charge of Las Lomas.

Lickiss kept involved by serving as commissioner of the Diablo Foothill Athletic League for six years and then the DAL when it was formed in 2016.

Mark Tran taking charge

Randy Takahashi, the Acalanes athletic director, served as interim DAL commissioner through the end of the school year and Tran is slated to take over the position officially July 1.

Tran just completed his 22nd year teaching science and coaching at YVHS. During that time, he has coached boys and girls basketball, track and field, girls volleyball and cross country as well as being AD for the past decade.

Once principal Pike appoints his successor AD, Tran says he would like to continue coaching Warriors cross country and track and field.

Ralston seeking new challenge

Ralston was at Clayton Valley Charter as a teacher or administrator for 19 years starting in 1997-98, interrupted from 2011-16 while he coached the baseball team at Cal State East Bay. He returned to the Concord school for the 2016-17 term as freshman academic advisor and took over the athletic director role in the summer of 2018 when it was made a full-time position.

Ralston left Clayton Valley after the 2011 baseball season to coach the CSUEB Pioneers. Over the five years at Cal State, he had three 30-win seasons and was voted 2016 California Collegiate Athletic Association Coach of the Year by the league’s head coaches and was named West Region Coach of the Year by the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association.

That year Ralston’s Pioneers broke the program record with 33 victories, captured a share of the California Collegiate Athletic Association North Division championship for the first time, reached the title game of the CCAA Tournament, qualified for the NCAA Division II West Regionals for the first time in 39 years and produced the University’s first CCAA MVP in any sport in senior All-America Rudy Navarro.

Ralston was the head baseball coach at Clayton Valley for 11 seasons, where he captured seven league titles and a NCS championship in 2009, as well as three other Section championship game appearances. During his tenure, Ralston guided the Eagles to their best season record (24-3), most wins (26) and best season batting average (.394) in program history.

He interrupted his Clayton Valley career in 2007-08 to coach Diablo Valley College baseball, leading the Vikings to a California Community College Athletic Association NorCal Elite Eight appearance, a top-10 ranking in the state and a 54-39 record over his two years there.

Ralston got his start in coaching as an assistant at Cal from 1990-91, helping the Bears to the NCAA Regional final, before moving on to serve as an assistant at DVC from 1992-94. He spent three seasons as head coach at St. Patrick-St. Vincent High in Vallejo from 1995-97, where he won two Sac-Joaquin Section titles.

Overall, he compiled a 344-95 record as a high school head coach, collecting eight league championships and three section titles.

A Clayton resident, Ralston is looking for a new challenge after leaving CVCHS and he does not preclude the possibility of moving from the Bay Area for the right opportunity.

Jay Bedecarré
Jay Bedecarré
Sports and Schools Editor at The Concord Clayton Pioneer | | Website

Jay Bedecarré is a long-time resident and writer in Concord and Clayton. He began his newspaper writing career while still a senior at Mt. Diablo High School and he has been part of The Pioneer since its inception in 2003. Jay also operates Bay Area Festivals, presenting events around the San Francisco Bay Area including Bay Area KidFest annually in Downtown Concord.