South San Francisco, CA January 13, 2017 Submitted by Coach Jake
We are in the process of organizing a citizens committee to take the necessary steps to ask SSFUSD School Board for permission to name El Camino’s Big Gym after Owen Kashevaroff. We will be having a meeting in the El Camino Library in early March. The purpose of this meeting will be held to make sure that there is no opposition in the community for naming the gym after Kash. If you would like to write a letter of recommendation that we can present to the school board on Owen Kashevaroff behalf that would wonderful. Please send all letters to my email, email@example.com. Hopefully if all goes well we can have a ceremony in the Big Gym this May.–COLT PRIDE
UPDATE: Some were inquiring who was Owen Kashevaroff so we share more info. HERE is a link to Coach Jake’s personal story
“Many years ago (1970’s), my family was vacationing in Boulder Creek. My brother was attempting to jump off the high dive, got scared and started to turn around. He slipped and fell into the water. He hit his shoulder on the diving board on the way down and broke it… the shoulder, not the board! While struggling in the water, someone jumped in and saved him… yes, it was Kash who was our hero:-) What a small world… as students at El Camino, we knew who he was:-) ” – Pat Murray SSFUSD School Board Trustee
The late Owen Kashevaroff will posthumously become a member of the new Peninsula Basketball Officials Association Hall of Fame along with equally esteemed colleagues Ray Wagner, John Noce, Jim Witt and Homer Zugelder when the PBOA holds its annual dinner Monday at Bella Mangiotta restaurant in San Mateo.
When Mr. Kashevaroff died 13 years ago, two men particularly close to him were asked to talk about how he had influenced them. They spoke freely and lovingly about their mentor. And the influence continues today as Bruce Grantham and Mark Avelar serve as principals, respectively, at Alta Loma Middle School in South San Francisco and Aragon High in San Mateo.
We think that what these two community leaders said in 1983 continues to be moving and pertinent in 1996. Their tribute:
SOUTH SAN FRANCISCO – A man is measured by the lives he touches and the lives he makes better. By that measure, the Peninsula sports community is diminished grievously this week by the loss of a giant, Owen Kashevaroff.At age 53, he had been a star athlete at Balboa High and San Francisco State University, a recreation leader, a high school coach, a physical education teacher, a school district driver education coordinator, for a time in the mid-1960s commissioner of the North Peninsula League, a leading basketball official at San Francisco and Peninsula high school and collegiate levels, a devoted family man (father of four) . . . and more.
Thus, a summary of a man’s life in just 68 words. Twelve score that many could not convey what he had meant to so many of his contemporaries and students through the years, so moved were they and so compelled to speak about him were they at his death of cancer last week.
Bruce Grantham and Mark Avelar are vice principals, respectively, at South San Francisco and El Camino Highs. They are two sophisticated men in their mid-30s, men who have risen through the multilayered bureaucracy of professional education. They deal with serious problems daily, manage considerable sums of money, make tough judgments.Asked to meet with a sportswriter to talk about their late mentor, friend and co-worker, Grantham and Avelar became – for that time of remembering – no longer the serious, dapper professionals who are two rising stars in the South San Francisco Unified School District pantheon.
Instead, they became again their earlier selves, mischievous, impressionable 10-year-olds on a South City playground, literally idolizing the young adult who was their recreation leader . . . and, they said, their inspiration. Their reminiscences are recorded here as just two stories of lives touched by Owen Kashevaroff, and let these two testimonies stand as representative of the many that could be given.
AVELAR BECAME one of “Owen’s kids” when he was a fifth-grader and Kashevaroff was a playground leader for the South San Francisco Recreation Dept. A recreation major in college, he joined the faculty of Spruce Junior High two years later in 1959.
“I was in his first period physical education class and I was the first kid he ever took roll on,” Avelar recalled.
“First period, first day. Owen and I would reminisce since then and he’d say, “It was all down hill after that. All the rest of them were easy after you.’
“Owen had interesting ways of kind of keeping you in line. He had what I call a high risk teaching approach in that he got to some really good levels of communication with kids because he was willing to take a risk and really get to know them as people and he risked himself in that he kidded with kids and he’d kind of take them beyond the normal student-teacher relationship. He had nicknames for everybody, but he took it when the kids had nicknames for him.
“He had the ability to get along with all different types of kids. I think because of his personality, a lot of the kids who were not real serious students liked his approach. Owen had the ability to kid with students and do that high risk stuff, but, when it was time to get down to business he was able to get them to get on with the instruction. He developed trust relationships with kids.”
In his own life, Avelar said, the primary reason he became an educator was his relationship with Kashevaroff. “I was a sophomore at USF and I was planning to go to law school. I thought people that had known of my aspirations might be disappointed that I was not going to go to law school and instead would go into education. I went back to El Camino and talked to Owen about it. He said it was a great profession and he thought I would be excellent in it. He thought I had the human qualities to become a good teacher and I saw those things in Owen. That really influenced me to go into teaching.”
GRANTHAM esteems his relationship with Kashevaroff not just for a teaching career, but also for his companion life as one of the Bay Area’s leading basketball officials. “I was about 11 or 12 years old on the playground when I first met him,” Grantham said. “The impressions when you’re a young boy are really important – you’re looking for models all the time. You don’t realize what a strong influence somebody has on your life.
“He was my first P.E. teacher. I was never much of an athlete, but, because of his encouragement about participation and having fun I wound up playing basketball and baseball in high school. Never would have if he hadn’t encouraged me. He got me my first job on the playground when I was a rec leader when I was 15-1/4 when the supervisor didn’t want to hire me because I was a precocious, big-mouthed little kid. I worked for the rec department for about 13 years after that.
“I started officiating basketball, which is a great part of my life now. Nineteen years of officiating, and I started on the playgrounds where Owen was the rec leader and I was refereeing games for him when I was 14 and 15, working playground games. He was teaching me at the time, how to officiate. So I started officiating when I was 18, right out of high school.
“Mark and I had him in junior high school,” Grantham went on. “He is one of the top two people that I had in education that made me decide to be an educator. I had family that wanted me to go into law or medicine or one of the high-faluting professions, but the bottom line was that I wanted to affect kids the way Owen had affected and influenced me. He made teaching a really important profession to me. I modeled myself after him in everything that I’ve done.
“Owen was really a self-effacing man. He had the idea that everybody was like him – that teachers were supposed to do those things for kids and that all teachers had the effect on students that he had. But that’s not true.”
THE REMEMBERING went on, the two of them returning to the vocabularies of their youth, the easy laughter of boys, the occasional giggle even – an uncanny regression in their lives as contrast to their stern demeanors as vice principals coping with campus problems. It took little discernment for the writer, taking his notes, to realize what deep and abiding impact and affection they were sharing with each other and with their interviewer.
“There was a teacher strike in South San Francisco (in 1975), a pretty ugly one,” Grantham said. “Mark and I were on the teaching staff at El Camino then and it was very tough because the P.E. staff was very close there. Most of us went out on strike, but Owen didn’t. From the very beginning he said he wouldn’t and he said why. There was never any hard feelings.
“We played cards together the first night of the strike. There were four guys that struck, four guys that didn’t strike. We talked about the political aspects of the situation and everything and Owen said, “I became a teacher because I didn’t believe in unions, I didn’t believe in striking. I cannot go out on strike, I owe it to the kids who go to school.’ That said a lot about Owen.
“He got along with every kind of kid. When the school district went to P.E. as an 11th and 12th grade elective,” Grantham further recalled, “all the punk kids signed up for Owen’s classes. Owen had the lowest absentee rate and tardy rate of all the P.E. teachers, and he had the worst kids in terms of their normal attendance in their other classes. He got along with the kids who were scholars and not good in P.E., but he got them to participate. . .he got along with the truants and problem kids who normally wouldn’t go to school.
“THE KIDS really identified with him. He accepted everybody. He gave unconditional acceptance and he got unconditional acceptance back. The shame is that the kids are no longer going to experience him.
“Bottom line,” Grantham added, once again the somber adult rather than the giggling boy, “I really loved that man.” http://www.sfgate.com/bayarea/article/A-great-man-s-continuing-good-works-3158362.php