By Jeremy Balan
Lincoln High School head boys basketball coach Mike Gragnani died today of an apparent heart attack, according to school and CIF-San Francisco Section officials.
Gragnani was in his fifth year at the helm of the Lincoln boys program, but prior to that, spent time as the head coach at Berkeley High School and Redwood High School in Larkspur, and also served as an assistant coach at St. Ignatius.
Lincoln was set to play Mission in both teams’ Academic Athletic Association opener Wednesday, but the game has been postponed. Lincoln Athletic Director Kenyatta Scott was still unsure about any postponements after Wednesday.
Frosh/Soph head coach Matt Jackson will take over coaching duties for the varsity team once the Mustangs begin play again.
Many details are still unavailable and plans for funeral services have not been set, but the news has already had a substantial impact on the San Francisco prep sports community.
“I’ve known Mike for 20 years, well before he began coaching for [Lincoln], from coaching 6-year-old kids to 50-year-old men,” said CIF-SF Commissioner Don Collins. “He did it with character, and you don’t replace a guy like that, not only in San Francisco, but in the entire Bay Area.”
Wallenberg head coach Patrick Mulligan has known Gragnani since their time as students at St. Ignatius. Mulligan was a freshman student manager while Gragnani was a senior on the baseball and basketball teams.
“He was a really good guy, a family man, and he was terribly dedicated to the craft of being a basketball coach,” Mulligan said. “He was really committed to the kids of San Francisco and had a impact on the North and East Bays too.”
Last week, Gragnani was scouting Mission in the Sand Dune Classic at St. Ignatius, preparing for the league opener.
“We kind of came into the league at the same time, but a couple of years ago he was thinking about walking away, and we had an hour-long conversation about it. I tried to convince him not to go and how much he means to the league and to the City,” said Mission head coach Arnold Zelaya. “I told my kids, ‘San Francisco high school sports took a big hit today.'”
During his time with the Mustangs, Gragnani had a 89-61 record.