That’s how movies finish, not how stories begin.
But the end for Campolindo athletic director Bob Wilson, how he finished off a 35-year run in sports and education, was more important than how it started. He didn’t want to conclude a rich, joyous merry-go-career sitting at home, in the dark — sick and broken.
Yes, the thymic carcinoma returned to his chest in December. Yes, he couldn’t possibly get to campus following chemotherapy and radiation for four months.
But come May, the 61-year-old Wilson was hell-bent on a return to finish what he started. He announced before the school year this would be his last after 14 years at Campolindo and 21 before that in West Contra Costa County.
“You want to leave on your own terms,” Wilson said. “Besides, coming to school has made a big difference. Being around the kids and coaches gives you a lot of spirit.”
The Cougars gave him more than that.
For the last two seasons — about the time of Wilson’s rare cancer diagnosis — Campolindo has been selected the state’s top Division III athletic program by Cal-Hi Sports. With a mighty flurry upon Wilson’s return in May, the Cougars might just make it three straight.
• Led by a national record and four wins from USC-bound Steven Stumph, the boys swim team won its ninth straight North Coast Section title.
• The boys volleyball team won NCS and NorCal titles, and Saturday, in poetic fashion, the baseball and softball teams won section crowns as well.
• The softball crown was a complete shock, while the baseball squad won its fourth straight title, not giving up a run over four playoff games. Wilson made the 90-minute drive to Santa Rosa for the baseball game.
“It’s a great way to go out,” Wilson said. “I never cease to shake my head at how good these kids are and how well the community of parents and coaches work together.”
But Wilson tied it all together, which is no easy task, said longtime football coach Kevin Macy. Moraga is huge on support, but also on demands to succeed in every walk of life. Besides recent state-title runs in girls volleyball, football, cross country and basketball, the Campolindo Academic Decathlon team recently won a national championship.
“Sports and academics run at a fever pitch in this community, and Bob has always been the perfect person in the middle to balance it all,” Macy said. “He’s been the godfather of Campolindo’s glory days of sports.”
Interesting, considering Wilson grew up on the other side of the hill and attended blue collar El Cerrito High and taught and coached at Harry Eells, Richmond, Kennedy and Pinole Valley.
His move to Campolindo was seamless. “He’s interested in every kid and knows about all of them,” said Campolindo teacher and former cross-country coach Chris Walsh. “He’ll come in on Monday morning and tell some JV player, ‘I heard you had a double and triple against Alhambra.’
Walsh believes Wilson’s return had an impact on Campolindo’s success the final month, spiritually if not physically. The titles definitely had a positive impact on Wilson. “Way down deep, every man wants to be proud of his craft,” Walsh said. “They want a sense of what they built was good and productive and successful. If Bob didn’t know it already, I think these championships helped him understand it now.”
Almost like a movie.
Mitch Stephens is a national columnist for MaxPreps.com. He wrote this column for the June 6 issue of SportStars.
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