Culver City Observer -

Culver Softball Honors Retired Coach Sargent

Memories Flow Over His 26 Years

 

Fred Altieri

John Sargent (Center), Darrin and grandchildren with Terri Hudson, daughter Heather

This was one occasion when the game took a back seat. On a perfect spring afternoon at Culver City High former head softball coach John Sargent and the late Rick Hudson were honored by the school on the very field where they spent a great deal of time coaching the Centaurs during their careers.

Following the 2014-15 season Sargent, who coached the team for 26 years, decided it was time to hand over the coaching reigns well before this season began. The timing gave the school plenty of time to hire and allow the new head coach to prepare for this season. It has been a smooth transition.

The ceremony took place before the Thursday, May 5, game with the Centaur girls hosting Santa Monica High. Sargent with his family and Rick Hudson's family gathered at the pitcher's mound. Players, parents, teachers, administrators and friends applauded as each were each presented with the Centaur For Life Award.

Former Culver High athletic director Jerry Chabola and current athletic director Tom Salter thanked Sargent and Rick Hudson's wife Terri for the respective coaches' years of dedicated service to the school as well as to the softball and the athletic programs.

"It's such an honor. It's all happened because of the people on my staff, the people who've been associated with the team and the people who volunteered. I love the City, Culver City Unified and Culver City High School. The softball program is a passion of mine," said John Sargent during Thursday's game.

"After years of graduation, former players, the mothers and daughters came out to honor me. It was like an exclusive club for softball members, players and parents. And that feeling is still around and I'm delighted to see a lot of them out here today."

His early, humble start with the Centaur softball program was not lost on Sargent. "I started coaching in 1989. I always remember the A.D., Marty Siegal talking to me in a little shed we had out there. It had a milk crate with a helmet, a wooden bat and an old softball. We started with that.

"The girls purchased their own equipment. With that we built up the program. And I'm so proud and delighted to have the softball park on campus here now. The ballpark came here in 2000 but the upgrade came last year. It's a beautiful field."

There were also the four athletic directors who Sargent coached under during his tenure at Culver City High. "I went through four athletic directors. Del Goodyear, he wasn't just color. He loved this program.

"If you walk in the gym you see his name on the wall. He was an outstanding director. He would say: "Just do what you gotta do, John.

"Then came Marty Siegal, a friend and one of my mentors. He showed me a lot. Then we have the incredible Jerry Chabola. He always had my back. Jerry would always say: "Thank you, Coach. Go Get'em." And that was encouragement enough from him.

"Then there's Coach Salter. He's been great. He is finishing what all the other athletic directors started. Coach Salter and I walked through this program several times to make sure certain things were being taken care of."

There were the fond memories of the many players who Sargent coached along with his 'co-coaches' Rick Hudson and Duane Briggs for a couple of decades.

"I think back to all the memorable games and girls, the ones that moved on to Division I Play such as Kimberly Johnston. As a ninth grader she weighed less than 100 lbs. But the kid could throw. She had like 30 shutouts an incredible number of wins.

"As far as a great hitter, Tracey Carr, one of the toughies that played on my team. Sharon May was an outstanding Division I player. Heidi Cappell, a lefty who had a bat... the list goes on and on until Sidra Montoya from last year. So I'm real honored to be a part of this program.

"All my coaches were co-coaches. I didn't have assistant coaches," Duane Briggs was another that was dedicated to the program. Duane didn't get paid and he did it for 19 years. He was here on the weekends, evenings and late nights. Whatever it took he would do it.

"Rick Hudson. Rick was the ideal person from this community for the job he did outside his family. He loved his family. They named the ballpark after him, deserving. But the love he had for these kids was just incredible. I miss seeing him walk across the field with that big smile and that big Coke. I can only say good things about him."

Fred Altieri

John Sargent addresses the crowd

Sargent sees a bright future for the Culver High softball team: "The new coach is outstanding: Gabby Chacon. The program is in very good hands. He has a good core of young girls and they are going to be very successful.

"There are also girls coming out of the middle school. They are going to be awesome. The team is going to come back as a power like we had in the 1980's and 2000. Trust me on that. There's just too much talent out there. That's what I see for the future of this program."

Retirement is just on the horizon for Coach Sargent. "Right now, I've worked here 31 years as a security guard. I started in 1984. I have another two years and I will be done with that as well. It's been an incredible ride. I love my family. And this is my second family."

 

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