Football: John Lee out as Sacred Heart Cathedral head coach

John Lee (right) will not return for his 10th year as head coach of the Sacred Heart Cathedral varsity football team next season. (Photo by Doug Ko)
John Lee (right) will not return for his 10th year as head coach of the Sacred Heart Cathedral varsity football team next season. (Photo by Doug Ko)

John Lee (right) will not return for his 10th year as head coach of the Sacred Heart Cathedral varsity football team next season. (Photo by Doug Ko)

By Jeremy Balan

(Developing story)

Update: (Saturday, 4:00 p.m.): Sacred Heart Cathedral has put out a media release about the coaching change. Th release stated that the school “will conduct a search for Lee’s replacement, effectively immediately.”

“This was an [extraordinarily] difficult decision for me personally because of the personal relationship that I have with coach Lee, but after a thorough analysis of the football program and [Lee’s] role, I felt this was the best decision for the program at this point in time,” athletic director Phil Freed said in the release.

Update (Thursday, 6:40 p.m.): We got in contact with John Lee. He said that the choice to make the change was not his decision. He was also unsure whether he would continue to coach in the football program at Sacred Heart Cathedral or at another school.

He also made the following comments:

“It’s true. I’m out, but I won’t comment much on why right now. I will tell you that I’m very thankful for the opportunity to be head coach for 9 years. Half my life has been coaching there and I’m thankful for the opportunity . . . [When I first found out], it was a little unsettling, but I’ve always told the players and the coaches that Sacred Heart football has been around a lot longer than I have and it will hopefully be around a lot longer after I’m gone. It was great to coach at my alma mater – not a lot of people can say that – and coach at Kezar Stadium . . . It will be strange going into spring football – it’s a part of life and I understand that – not going out there with that Irish baseball cap on, with a great group of kids.”

Update (Thursday, 6:00 p.m.): Comments from former Sacred Heart Cathedral football player Zach Tapel, who was a three-year varsity player under Lee and graduated in 2012.

“[I’m for] whatever is best for the school. I love coach Lee, but we haven’t had winning seasons. I’m not blaming it on him, but if we’re not winning games, there can be changes. He always had our back, though, and that’s why I loved him.”

According to a source close to the Sacred Heart Cathedral athletic department, John Lee is no longer the head coach of the school’s varsity football team.

Sacred Heart athletic director Phil Freed confirmed that Lee would “not be returning” as head coach for the 2013 season, but would not comment on the details of the move or anything else regarding the future of the football program until the school officially releases the information on Monday. Lee will continue to be a full-time teacher at the school.

Lee had a 45-51 overall record in his nine seasons as head coach and brought the Irish back into the West Catholic Athletic League in 2008, after an 18-year hiatus from the league, in which the Irish played an independent schedule. In the five seasons since their return to the WCAL, the Irish have a 9-26 record.

That 2008 season was arguably Lee’s best. The Irish had an overall record of 8-5 and went 4-3 in WCAL play, and won their first and only Central Coast Section title in school history. Sacred Heart also made a deep playoff run in 2011, when the Irish lost to rival St. Ignatius in the CCS Division III title game at AT&T Park. He had a 2-8 record against St. Ignatius and a 7-2 mark against Riordan.

Lee is a graduate of Sacred Heart, where he also played football, and the 2012 season was his 24th 23rd year as a coach in the program.

Lee was not available for comment at the time of publication.

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135 Comments on "Football: John Lee out as Sacred Heart Cathedral head coach"

  1. BOOM!

  2. Thank you John Lee for all your time, effort, dedication to the school we all love. With the duties of teaching and responsibilities of coaching and having a major hand in bringing us back to the WCAL. I dont think there has been one other person in the last 25 years that has given SHC more of themselves than you. I wish you well in your future teaching at SHC. Thank you for all you have done for the program.

    Can we get Bob Ladoceur now? SHC and DLS are Chistian Brothers schools so lets go!

    • Wow these are nice words. Funny thing is all you did all season was talk crap about him so I highly doubt these are sincere words. Stop contradicting yourself my friend!

      • He’s sincere. People tend to revise and extend their remarks when the heat of passion cools down.

        Now call Bob Ladoucuer. He’s not busy.

      • Funny how youre the only one who mentions anything about Burton. Wait, not funny. More like pathetic. Has there been one article this school year about the Pumas? They are just like you. Irrelevant. Stick to your Puma comments junior.

        • Ari,

          Indeed, there was one article about Burton: Varsity Girls beating ICA.

          Now let’s be a little more cordial. GCJ01 puts some thoughtful comments out there. He’s an alum of his school just as I like Wallenberg.

          • Thank you Don L.!

            I guess some people on here doesn’t know what it means to truly support your school no matter what. All Ari does is complain and bad mouth his own school as if he could do any better as a coach!

        • Is that your “comeback?” I point out the obvious that you’ve contradicted yourself and you try to attack my school? LOL. That’s funny. That just shows that you can’t handle the truth. But it’s okay. GO PUMAS!!!!!

  3. Zach Tapel said it right. I do think Coach Lee gave a lot to the the school and generally did his best and no one can dispute that. However, changes do need to be made to put IRISH football on the map. Hopefully he would be willing to stay involved like coach Freshman or Jv’s that is if the new coach wants him.

    • New coach will have new system, new plays, etc. If he stays on on JV or Frosh, he will HAVE TO run new coach’s system. He may not accept that and theres no way he will accept being “demoted” to JV or Frosh right away. He’ll need at least 2 years away to refresh.

      • in the know | January 10, 2013 at 6:46 PM |

        you have no idea who you are talking about. you do not know john lee with that statement. He should not coach there at all. Let the new coach find his own staff…since there is a line out the door. We will see what happens with the new coach. Time will tell.

        • manifest Destiny | January 10, 2013 at 9:52 PM |

          Thats right. Coach Freshmen or Junior Varsity? Are you kidding? They just showed him the door for coaching. He can coach anywhere he wants. Loyalty is a two way street for the Irish.

        • I am just saying if John Lee loves the sport of football it may be something he may want to do in the furture. I don’t know if the new coach would want any of the old staff anyway. For example, Tim Burke was a Varsity boys coach for years, and he coached freshman girls basketball and now Jv’s. Coach Francheschi was a varsity baseball coach, he still helps out. Ok, maybe, John Lee can go coach at Riordan then, surely Riordan will take him over Sweeney? I don’t know but I think Lee is a positive guy and football is in his blood and if SH still has him teaching which it does, why wouldn’t he want to be involved somewhere down the line for the benefit of the school, he bleeds SH green.

        • if i was playing for sh i would welcome a new play book gladly,i new what was coming,so you know everyone else did.

  4. in the know | January 10, 2013 at 6:28 PM |

    Amazing that you have something nice to say now that he is out. The words are nice but too little too late. keep dreaming about Lad. He will still be on staff on DLS as an assistant. Plus why would he go to a school without a field and no support from the spineless administrators?

    • Say what you will, I will not retract praise of him as a huge contributor to SHC and criticism of him as football coach. The man as he said gave half his life into something/someplace he loves/loved. That speaks volumes and you want me to knock him for that aspect? Hell no! Get real.

      I wonder if people said the same nice things about Bluford and the last bball coach before Reardon.

      • in the know | January 10, 2013 at 7:53 PM |

        you have knocked him year after year…thats all im saying. The kind words were nice and I am sure will be appreciated.

  5. duke ku kim | January 10, 2013 at 6:39 PM |

    thanks John

  6. John Lee is a really good man who bleeds Sacred Heart green and white. This is a guy who really cares about his kids first.

    Best of luck to Johnny Lee and good luck SHCP in finding a guy with passion

  7. Hilary Corritore | January 10, 2013 at 7:10 PM |

    Huge loss for SH! He is the program! Heart and soul the BEST!

  8. you’ll do NO better than John Lee at S.H.

  9. John Lee is the ultimate classical type of coach. No better dedication

    • Spoken like a true Hall of Fame Coach. You are absolutely correct Donnie. John Lee is a first class guy. Great teacher, mentor to the kids, and a terrific coach.

  10. Loose Harrigan, Cary, number of swim/golf/la crosse/tennis coaches and now Lee. I think make the game plan complete and get rid of athletic directors…. Then you’ll start fresh. Dont forget the senior Athletic Director…. Anyone for new administration…. SHC going down really fast…….so sad…

    • With all due respect to the swim, golf, lacrosse, and tennis coaches at SHC for last 25 years, applause for your sacrifices and time you took to coach these teams, but I’m going to guess you didn’t take those jobs to become legendary coaches and lead the school to section/state titles.

    • I agree with Santanas 100%

    • It’s not “so sad”. They just have to start making the right moves. Do they have to call the Psychic Hotline first? SHC won FIVE CCS titles last season, where were you?

      • You must be seeing stars…..academics before athletics??? HELLO…..but it’s cool as you seem to be an “I” guy. Have you ever heard of AIR….you seem light headed and need lots of it. Attitude – Integrity – Respect….learn it….It’s not all about wins. When you’re faced with all the adversities of sub par facilities, you would understand but being an “I” guy, you clearly have no clue what coaching football at SH is like. You are seriously in need of friends. Post what you may, until you’ve coached and deal with no support from administration, you don’t know what you’re talking about. The clock is ticking and SH administration needs to act fast and decisions without much thought will lead to failure. Yes, as another post read, SH is trying to be SI, it isn’t and that’s why kids go there. As they try to copy SI and not have there own identity, there just another copy cat….that’s “SAD”

  11. Hugh Skinner | January 10, 2013 at 7:33 PM |

    John Lee is the epitomy of hard work and dedication. That he was not selected to continue to carry on his labor of love is a travesty. The inspirational work ethic this man has instilled in his players and students over these many years will continue to influence generations to come and the wrold is a better place because of him. His contagious passion for the game and zest for life will be sorely missed and Sacred Heart should be ashamed for making such an extremely stupid decision.

  12. Former player | January 10, 2013 at 7:46 PM |

    The Athletic Directors are the worst. I played football, but never got to be coached by Coach Lee. He was always arounf helping out and was a great guy and a great teacher, then I played lacrosse and the Athletic Directors constantly push great coaches out. New Admins NEEDED!!!

  13. Time for change. Nobody likes to br fired but come on…. Where else could a football coach keep his job after the season that was just had on all levels. Sometimes it has to happen, doesn’t mean he didn’t do things along the way that were good. He’ll always have SHC first football championship under his belt.

    Who’s next? Would like to see who applies. Anyone have some names of potential hires.

  14. Unbelievable! What is wrong with SHCP? John Lee coached my son. He taught the boys more than football. He taught them integrity and how to behave like gentlemen on and off the field. This is a school I once praised but now I have nothing good to say about it. Some school is going to be lucky to get Coach Lee. Big loss for SHCP. Everything went downhill when the school took away Seamus.

    • GreenWhiteBlue | January 13, 2013 at 4:38 PM |

      “Everything went downhill when the school took away Seamus.” — The school didn’t take it away, Notre Dame got more strict about enforcing its copyright of the old Seamus, hence the change.

  15. mrs. brophy | January 10, 2013 at 8:24 PM |

    John Lee had the respect of his players. He gave his heart and soul to those kids and the football program..My boys loved and looked up to him and his
    firing is a slap in the face. Tim and I thank John for everything that he did.

  16. Lee is this master motivator and leader but the program’s numbers are dwindling. They could barely field anJV team this year. They can’t get more than 100 people at a game unless it’s SI. They can’t win 2 league games to save their lives. He’s a good guy and a good coach. But the program is going in a bad direction.

    As for the supposed purging of good coaches, check again. A golf coach left because his wife had a kid. A swim coach left because she graduated from school and got a job. A lacrosse coach left to move out of town. Carey left and was wanted back. None have anything to do with the admins. Everyone on this site likes to badmouth them. Why? What did I miss? besides that they want to move on from 1985? There are girls on campus. Sometimes there are uniforms with blue in them. Old school macho boys club behavior doesn’t cut it anymore.

    This doesn’t seem like its about wins and losses. And it shouldn’t be in HS. But this was a coach who saw the program shrink by a third in his tenure. None of us have any idea what happened and what had been happening behind the scenes. Lee said himself, no job is permanent. He’s been a great chapter in the school. But chapters end.

    • manifest Destiny | January 10, 2013 at 10:51 PM |

      “Old School macho boys club behavior” as quoted by Kyle. I believe a bunch of nuns who founded Cathedral and have been major benefactors of the school might disagree with that. Any of you SH grads got anything to say about that?

  17. Johnny Lee’s dedication, loyalty and commitment to the SH football program and its participants over the last 23 years has been nothing short of profound. His relentless passion for the game as well as coaching and mentoring, has inspired countless young men to become not only phenomenal athletes, but great human beings. I’ve witnessed John’s passion on and off the field, I’ve heard it in his voice and I’ve felt it beaming from his heart. If the school’s administration had even half John’s heart, they would have handled such an important decision with the utmost care and respect, but instead they’ve clearly demonstrated that loyalty, tradition and integrity are worth nothing. What a shame.

  18. John lee is still a teacher there and I hear a good one. He just will not be running the football program. Hopefully, a change may be what SH needs.

  19. Thanks to coach lee but this was a GREAT choice! His “dictator” type mentality was getting old. The kids around school didnt want to play for him and that was a big reason why numbers were so low. Again..GREAT CHOICE

    • Once again speaking poorly about someone you don’t know. Dictator mentality? Last time I checked, in life there is someone in charge. In sports it’s the coach. In the classroom it’s the teacher. At work, it’s your boss. Not everyone is created equal and not everyone gets equal say. that’s life. He taught life lessons, not just football, manifest destiny got it right. Holding kids accountable..probably the only one at that school that did that. Whiny kids and whiny parents. In real life as a grown up we are held accountable. Sugar coating things leads to failure. That is not Lee’s way. I guess making the football program and the entire school more touchy feely like GLEE is the new way to go. Well good luck with that.

      • Not saying that. I do know coach Lee. All I’m saying is it was definitely time for a change. The offense had no creativity and again, numbers were low. The new guy should be someone who is a winner who does it his own way(like Lee), but works harder to go after players make sure they’re out there on Friday nights. Imagine the football team with guys like Deondre Otis, Khalil James, and Herman Pratt or David Parsons! 3 out of those 4 players played football for 1 or 2 years. I wonder. Why they stopped? Maybe Lee wasn’t accommodating to their schedules over the summer with basketball and made them choose which sport to play.

        A portion of this comment has been edited.

  20. manifest Destiny | January 10, 2013 at 9:47 PM |

    Developing Story? Who in the athletic department leaked the news? I hope Ari Gold and all the public relations people at SHC are happy. I am not an SH football fan or historian. Tell me if any other coach in the history of the football program at that school was FIRED the day after the basketball team lost in the “Bruce” game before a “sellout” crowd? Nice PR statement for all your new fans. Did they fire Connoly , Trestrail , Sweeney , Frank Lee , Freed or Henneberry? I guess holding teenagers accountable during Summer workouts , teaching them the value of hard work , loyalty and dedication do not count anymore for some disgruntled parents who never suited up. I cannot wait to see the press release from the school. You fired a dedicated hard working loyal alum. You will be held accountable by your fans , athletes and parents.

  21. Before we tar and feather the administration at SHC, let’s remember that despite the fact that there are fewer 8th graders in SF than ever, application are up. So they’re doing something right (yes, life is more than football). And those 5 CCS titles last year? Yeah, I think the AD’s might have a decent idea of how to put a staff together.

    Coach Lee is a good man, a good teacher, and a good coach. But let’s not canonize him. The program is a mess. Everyone loves him but no one wants to play for him (smallest team I’ve ever seen there this year) and no one supports the program (I was at senior night against Riordan and could have fit the crowd in a classroom). This shouldn’t have to do with wins and losses (and probably doesn’t), but it’s not like they’re winning much since he’s been here either.

    I hope for the best for Coach Lee. I hope he stays in the classroom at SHC. But I think the football program can only get better from here.

  22. Coach Lee didn’t just coach football; he was also a life coach. I did not have the pleasure of playing under him, but I did have him as a teacher. I will always credit Coach Lee for teaching me the true meaning of integrity and for pushing me. I’m sad to see him go but wish him the best in his future endeavors.

  23. Wow. SHC is having “the worst week ever.”

  24. Troy Onorato | January 10, 2013 at 10:13 PM |

    If not for John and his older brother Frank Lee, there would be no football at Sacred Heart, the school had dropped out of the WCAL and wanted to drop the sport completely. Only through their hard work and dedication, the program not only stayed afloat but thrived. It is an embarrassment to me as an alumnus that Sacred Heart chose to fire John, because of “helicopter” parents and a clueless and gutless administration. It’s not by coincidence that those with that opinion are always under a pseudonym. I am proud to have been a teammate, and to also have coached with John, and I consider him a true friend, and the only good is that I will be able to enjoy his company more often now that he doesn’t have to coach at SH….
    Troy Onorato class of ’85.

    A portion of this comment has been edited.

    • I edited out your profanity once, but I won’t do so again. Please keep your comments clean, or they won’t be approved.

      • With much respect to maintaining civility, editing Troy Oronato is like editing Lenny Bruce. Troy’s f-bombs have panache and laste with a bit of je ne sais quoi.

        John Lee, a good man from a good family.

    • Now this was a great comment! I think people tend to forget that he saved football at SHC.

  25. People that are talking about the numbers dwindling, that is the school, not the football program! It has not gotten the support it needs from the athletic department. Dictator? Yes as someone needs to rule the roost and be in control of 50 young men. Those boys, including mine needed to know that there were rules and consequences. John taught them that.

  26. i’ll leave Lee getting fired to the SHC people as I don’t know crappola about the reasons. But if they fire Lee for what he has or hasn’t done the last two years then Sweeney better be scouring the football Division 6 help wanted ads! I hear Happalachian Middle State School of the Crustaceans is hiring.

  27. Old School SH | January 10, 2013 at 10:39 PM |

    This marks the latest chapter in Sacred Heart Cathedral sacking a great coach who after a track record of tremendous and unconditional loyalty. Ask Jerry Phillips, 400+ wins, but he had to go and they came up with excuses to get rid of him while letting dead weight lead others sports. Look at Mike Carey, another alum who got pushed out after winning 3 CCS Titles in 3 years! And they say it’s not about wins and losses. Before Carey, Brian Harrigan and his style clashed with these folks, and he left to keep himself from getting burned out. This school frequently loses good people, especially in athletics, because it’s run by people who lack vision and integrity.

    I want to ask a questions… Is there someone other than John Lee who can manage all of the moving parts that come with SHC Football? Limited on campus facilities, long trips to practice, getting bumped from Kezar when the forecast calls for drizzle. Lots of issues that don’t exist elsewhere! Plus you have a school with a dwindling male enrollment.! Good luck to the next coach.

    It’s too bad because the folks who run that place seem to be almost bothered by hosting events, making people feel welcome at games and developing a sense of “community” on gamenights! They’re the same folks who don’t schedule any non-league basketball games in a “showplace” venue. The alums and families at that school were promised a the chance to host holiday tournaments and other games in that building.

    As a parent, why would I want to pay $18K a year to send my kid there when I could get a similar experience for free at many public schools? SHC’s current leadership really wants to be “SI Lite” and can’t figure out who they really are!

    A portion of this comment has been edited.

    • Old School SH, Jerry Phillips was retiring, and when they put in John Burke people were asking for a much more run and gun system than what Phillips coached which was all ball control and nothing else. Burke did not do SH bad at all.

      I think Carey was a good coach, and I don’t know that much about his situation but it seems from reading SF preps it has to be mostly about who made varsity and who did not one of his years. HIs record was not bad at all. From what I understand about Harrington, he was no doubt a great coach but the school would not give him a full time teaching position for whatever reason not I am not sure.

      I totally agree with the tournament or some home games though, the school spent millions on a brand new gym, they could have a holiday tournament or some home games. Open up St. Marys Cathedral for parking or hire a bigger security staff around the perimeter for parking control during the event.

      • Old School SH | January 12, 2013 at 9:58 PM |

        I attended SH when Jerry Phillips was run out of town. If he really “retired”, then why did he take a coaching job at few years later at Las Lomas of Walnut Creek and win another 100+ games there before actually retiring? SH as part of its merger with Cathedral made every coach “reapply” for his job… Phillips refused, saying his record should stand for itself. On the final night of the 1985-86 hoops season, the Fighitn’ Irish played at Mitty… Mitty gave him a hero’s sendoff, one that SH should have done for a retiring coach. During the pre-game fanfare, the Mitty AD offered Jerry their head coach’s job! Mr. Phillips refused that job (it came with a teaching gig) because it would have lowered his pay on the scale because he’d lose seniority coming from a different school!

        Secondly it was Tim Burke not John Burke! Also to get another fact straight, it’s not Harrington, its Harrigan! And he’s got a decent day job and if getting a full-time, on-campus gig is so important to Brian then why is he still working full time in the City and commuting every day during hoops season to Mountain View? He got burned out at SHC and it got harder to get along with the suits each year!

        Nothing will change at SHC until there is a change in the President’s office, perhaps the Principal’s office and definitely the AD’s office!

        The next football coach faces a steep, uphill climb. For all the people who rip John Lee for requiring off-season workouts, remember he’s going against Serra every year where Coach Walsh runs a DLS-style program! I believe if you build to play with Serra and the Bells, you’ll beat SI and Riordan in most years!

        If enrollment wasn’t an issue at SHC, then why has the school started a bus to the Peninsula each day? I think for many “Avenues” kind of kis, that Serra bus departing from Stonestown looks very attractive! Lots of sunshine in the 650!

        • Old school, your right about the names I’m not use to writing out of my iPhone yet so minor distraction. (Tim Burke and Harrigan) But Burke didn’t do SH badly he even won a wcal title. I never heard about the Mitty thing but like I mentioned I think they wanted a different brand of basketball. Im not disputing phillips was not a great coach he was also my typing teacher. Harrigan never got offered a full time teaching gig at St. Francis either so he is keeping his day job so that would explain the commute? Honestly i dont know. Serra puts pamphlets at everyone’s door twice a year and the weather is beautiful out here. But there aren’t a lot of city families and kids anymore so lots of the kids are coming from the peninsula and other areas even at SI and Riordan. Regarding Scudder, I have heard people do not care for him but don’t really know why.

        • Mr Phillips, excellent math teacher and very good drivers ed also!!! Love Mr Burke who is exceptional as a college guidance counsellor and admissions director. I think people don’t pay attention to the fact these people are educators first before being coaches. They make their living being teachers not as coaches. High schools are for education not for sports hype.

  28. Again folks, enrollment is up. They have been the most successful in the athletic department’s history of late. They’re adding sports teams (varsity boys and girls lax, girls frosh soccer). They’re adding other programs (Kairos retreat). They’re expanding their performing arts programs. They’re adding buses for students on the peninsula. They have service trips around the country. They’re expanding their science and math offerings. I think I’m seeing a different school than a lot of you all.

    I still haven’t seen anyone mention why the admins are so hated besides that you disagree with a few personnel moves that have, in the long run, not affected the quality of the programs in the least, nor were they the school’s choices (basically just Harrigan and Carey).

    Losing Lee is a hit to the school. He’s been a solid part of the football program for a long time. And as great as everyone seems to agree he is, he’s a small piece of a large puzzle. They need someone exceptional to replace him, for sure. But the sky isn’t falling (see my first paragraph here!)

    • I also concur with Irishman’s comments. The school is changing and I think for the better. The academic standards are much higher and the athletic programs are thriving but not yet in football. I think most of the alumni do not expect miracles in IRISH football, but they expect a team with more than 25 players and a team that should have more than 2 wins against SI in the last 10 years. When I was at SH, the football team was not great but even if we won one game and as long as it was against SI, the coach Yes, the alumni and school should expect and strive for more wins, at least .500 team should not be asking to much, is it?

      • This school is deteriating. The kids are no longer able to have a rally just for the big football game against SI because it’s not politically correct to leave other sports out. Give me a break. Enrollment may be up but the students they are accepting are more interested in academics and not sports. My son was on the swim team. What a joke that was. Ms. Smith was great but she left. The next woman was horrible. She would leave practice before the kids had even exited the pool. There was never any accountability for not showing up to practice. You still were allowed to swim in the meet. That would never have happened on Coach Lees watch. He taught you that your actions had consequences. This administration is more interested in becoming another SI and being politically correct than sticking to tradition. Frank and John turned the football program around and now are being shown the door. Word to SHC admins when I get a letter asking to donate I will be sure to throw it right in the garbage.

        • Maybe I’m wrong, but shouldn’t academics be the priority with sports being secondary? Isn’t that where the term student-athlete comes from?

          • Yes student athlete means a student who also plays sports. The boys coming to SHCP are not interested in sports at all. Their parents only want them to study and not participate in sports at all. Hence the decline in football players.

            • Hey disgusted, it is the job of the school to educate the students first and foremost.
              More than half the student body play on a sports team but it isn’t football. This is part of the reason why I believe the coaching change was made hopefully to build a better program. I love football but I’m a parent investing in my sons education and that is why he is there. Education has to be job one especially when tuition is 18,000 a year.

  29. Can someone tell me a legitimate definitive reason(s) why Momono and Freed must go? My personal experience with them was good and I liked them as teachers/people. For every not so good coach they hired, wheres the praise they should get for Beima, Barbour, Russell, Wilson, and Nga Tran???

    The school’s sports magnets are womens volleyball, womens basketball, mens basketball, and now upcoming mens soccer and volleyball. Whats wrong with that?

    • You make valid points that there are some nice hires as coach. However, as long as SHC is hamperd(sp) by access to sub-par practice facilities for outdoor sports (ie football, softball, baseball), they will always be behind the eight-ball competitively in WCAL. Yes, indoor sports have thrived in large part to their new on-site facilities (if you build it they will come). Outdoor sports will continue to be on the whim of good classes and inspiring coaches.

      On the flip side its amazing despite the lack of athletic infrastructure they are still able to compete.

  30. To be fair, I myself respect John Lee very much for all he has done to help make our Alma Mater great. I do not dislike him and for whatever reasons some have said he did not get support or what so ever is a moot point now. Let us see who the admin brings in and let the new changes happen. It also is safe to say it is time for a change, SH football can not thrive with the low numbers it has for the program not to mention the wins and losses. Someone mentioned that the JV football barely had 24 guys. That means the Varsity team again coming up will be lucky to have 30 guys again next year, and that is not good enough. Ari, I can agree with your above paragraph, let us hope football can be one of the sports SH can be better at as well in the future…Other than Zach Tapel I can not think of a two sport athlete for football and basketball the last four years. As an example, if Johns or Fox wanted to play tight end, imagine the football team with Johns on the O or D line? Yes, John Lee gave it his all, and has nothing to be embarrassed about. But it is time to try someone new, and I can’t imagine these athletic directors sacking him without some idea of who they want, so the real question is what are the names and what are the improvements, did they secure a closer field closer to the school for practices?

    • CrusaderNation | January 11, 2013 at 9:18 AM |

      John Lee is a good guy and he will get past this. While schools are adding programs this causes subtractions in others. The low numbers in football are not just an SH issue, but outside the penninsula a wide spread issue. As for basketball / football players, the big issue is that if you are good basketball player there will be pressure and time commitments to just play basketball. Also, there is not the drive to play football and work that hard. That being said I always admired the SH kids for their passion and hard work with virtually no on site facilities. They played hard, they played tough and wanted to be there.

      Being a high school football coach is a difficult job for low pay (a lot less than you think) with many issues besides winning and losing. The WCAL is the most competitive league in northern CA without support and talent it is very difficult to win.

      • GreenWhiteBlue | January 13, 2013 at 4:54 PM |

        I agree with this comment., and would add that the increased attention on concussions in football has perhaps added to the decline in numbers (even though concussions can a factor in almost any sport – soccer, lax, bball). And it’s true that parents know that in order to be remotely considered for a sports scholarship – even to a JC, D2 or D3 – your kid is pressured into being a 1-sport machine. Sad.

    • Johns played wide receiver for 2 years on Varsity?

  31. Former student | January 11, 2013 at 1:48 AM |

    When you think of IRISH football, you think of Coach Lee. He is an exceptionally passionate man who loves his team and his students and will do anything within his power to have them succeed. He not only is an amazing coach and teacher, but also a motivator, a mentor, and a role model. He teaches his kids a good work ethic, actions and consequences, discipline, and manners. SH has an acronym for FAITH that they use whenever parents are around. Each letter of FAITH stands for something each student should strive to have. F-Faith. A-Action T-Thought I-Integrity H-Hope. John lives all of these every day more than any of the administrators do. I know of players who are in their 4th year of college who still keep in touch with him because he had such a huge impact on them. And obviously a positive one, at that. Every football player I’ve known during my time at SH (and random alumni football players who had him as a coach!) have only had good things to say about him on AND off the field (and we so desperately need one). This is a terrible mistake, Sacred Heart. Good luck trying to find a man that will fill HALF his shoes.

  32. SHC is not an attractive school for a football coach. The lack of an on-campus field, practice logistics, and the dwindling male enrollment are HUGE negatives. All this while being in the toughest league in California. That being said, If you are going to fire John Lee you better make sure you have a replacement that you feel will be definitively better football coach than him. The chances of getting someone better than him are slim to none given all the negatives about coaching there. The expectations for football should be tempered there.

  33. I don’t know why all you people are sayin it was a bad decision. It is exactly what these players needed. Most of the PLAYERS are DELIGHTED and EXCITED that he isn’t coming back. People are saying he was a great coach but nobody knows what kind of coach one is until you spend day after day with him in te spring an summer.

  34. Jack Harrington 8 | January 11, 2013 at 10:04 AM |

    How many of you who criticize John Lee as a coach actually played for him? Instead of kicking the man while he’s down (like he had done to me after a few games through SF Preps), I would like to thank John Lee for all the time and effort he has put into the football program over many years of his life. Even though we didn’t see eye to eye on many things, I must commend him for all he has done. Best of luck to you, John Lee.

    • I disliked him turning you into a rollout-the-pocket passer. If that meant giving you more time to throw I get it, but when youre out of the pocket it makes the o-line less effective and increases your chances of getting seriously injured.

      • Are you always on both sides??? I think I saw you on one of the Batman movies… Two?? Something or another. Seems you like to please everyone with your comments. Stop already or we’ll all think you’re part of the SH administration. And if you’re not, you should as you’ll fit right in. Don’t rock the boat and be a ‘Yes Man’. Can’t speak your mind. Have you ever coached? All you do is talk. Get off the board already.

        • You name me another SH QB not named Fialos who had Jack Harrington’s skills. Strong arm, decent speed, and won more than half the games he started. Go ahead.

          Because I know what I saw. Another promising SH QB used incorrectly with stupid roll out plays for 3 yard gains to the WR.

          So you want me to say John Lee stunk as a teacher and huge contributor? Nope all you get from me was I think he was not a good coach, game/play caller and in interviews threw some players under the bus instead of accepting blame.

          If you want to criticize him further, be my guest.

          • I thought Seamus Finnegan was pretty darn good before his family moved.

          • Aaron Wicklund?

            • Sounds familiar, whats the back of his topps football card look like IC? Honestly, the names I can come up with are Sean Cawley, Broderick Jones, Gibran Farrah, Leo Fialos, Paul Doherty, Finnegan, Brophy, Wickland, Harrington, Peralta, and White. The rest in between that I missed, I just dont know.

              Holy cow, when you list the SI QBs, in that same time frame: Riley, Buich, Fitzgibbon, the other Buich, Stinn, I cant remember the other ones but they were better than the SH ones.

              • irishiitalian | January 15, 2013 at 4:47 PM |


                Two more – Matt Loftus, and Jake Murphy – both pretty good athletes.

              • My favorite QB for SI was Daniel Vaughn in the 80s because you don’t see alot of black QB’s in the WCAL.

              • RIordan had some very good African-American QBs starting in the 80’s – Mike Seagram (SH Transfer), Darryl Michael and Rodney Glover. Glover was the nephew of actor Danny Glover and his nickname was “Lethal Weapon” – classic!

              • Oh yes, Loftus and Murphy! Thank you Irishitalian.

                JJ, my favorite SI football player was OL/DL John Antonini. The joke was he was in the SH backfield more than the QB or RB was. Couldnt block him.

              • Alvin Mcdaniel SHC class 1975. Lynn Swan Serra class 1970 Jr. year starting QB.Not the 1980’s but there has been African American QB’s in WCAL.

              • any African-American QB’s in the WCAL since 1990?

              • Darius Bell was the starting QB for Riordan when they won CCS in 2007. He played at UCLA as a RB.

              • Alvin was from the Class of ’76. Good combo with him and Mark Hallinan.

              • Aaron was a left-handed passer , beat SI at least. Good arm. Sean was another one with a good arm but he threw too many INT’s. (He also pitched and threw a no-hitter for CCSF). Gibran Farrah was just fearless in the pocket. He could barely see over the line but he had confidence.

              • Seagrave in early 80’s started at SHC ended up at Riordan.

  35. There is a coach on the Serra high school coaching named Imani Stewart who is a great coach and should be givin a chance to run a program. He is great coach, talent evaluator, roll model, mentor and a big reason for Serra having the talent they do at that school.

    • M.Champs very good call. I know present and past parents and players who say he would be an excellent head coach. Relates well with the players and has had a very large impact on the Serra program. The players love him.

  36. This goes back two years if Lee wins the championship game at ATT park vs. SI he still would have his job but instead you keep passing the ball after how many interceptions running the ball got them there. Instead you try and prove a point to certain players. Thats why he’s out…….

  37. Everyone can point fingers all they want but the fact remains no other coach would have put up with the conditions and restrictions put on the football program over the years. Who’s to say Coach Lee didn’t want to improve the program as well? His ideas have been rejected year after year and money for the program has been scarce. How can you be expected to make changes with your hands tied behind your back? The volleyball and basketball programs have always been the focus of the school. I get it, I went to St. Rose so I saw first hand how those two programs rose to the top with the leadership of Momono and Harrigan. It’s too bad St. Rose didn’t have a football team.

  38. SH and City Fan | January 11, 2013 at 3:06 PM |

    If SH admins decide to simply assign the job to one of the coaches already in the program, there will be no change. It will be the worst thing to do at this point. And the sad thing is, I can see SH admin doing that exact thing.

  39. The main problem was Coach Lee was not afraid to speak up. The admins at SHC run a dictatorship. You speak you are gone. I am sure Coach Lee will have no problem finding a new head coach job at a school that did not waste millions of dollars putting in a theater for about 20 students but will be able to practice on money spent on a real field. You will be missed John but we will never forget all you did for the once great SHCP.

    • I actually agree with this statement. They can surely work with park and rec and get some deal going for Joseph Lang field or something and share it with the community as well. That field can be used for baseball, softball, soccer, lacrosse, etc. Why not try to get some exclusive rights for the park by paying a fee to the city and promising to upgrade and maintain it. The city needs money and may be open to some deal. It could be a win-win. Has the school administration tried? I rather see this than SH thinking of building a pool at Gough and Turk with phase 3 with alumni and outside donations. At least that was the last I heard? Anyone on the board know?

  40. former player alum | January 11, 2013 at 5:23 PM |

    I don’t think many will argue that coach lee is a great man and teacher, cause he taught me and was an amazing person. But when it comes to football he is a great motivator and taught us players a lot about discipline but the results just weren’t showing. It was time for a much needed change, just like in college when the players change every year but the win loss stays the same the problem isn’t always the players. And must be the coach. Regardless if he’s an alumn or not, he had a job to do and he didn’t put up the numbers to stay. I liked coach lee and I wish him the best in whatever he chooses to do, and I hope freed picks a coach who can put up the numbers and recruit a little better then lee.

  41. Coach Lee is a great guy, but a losing record is a losing record. Sometimes change needs to be made in order to move forward with better results. His firing doesn’t mean that the next guy will be some jerk who won’t help the kids. Obviously SHCP wants better results on the field, and they can also hire a guy who has good character as well. Most everyone does appreciate what Coach Lee has done and the effort he gave. But that doesn’t mean he deserves a lifetime spot at his position when the on-field results are rather poor. If anything, Lee can treat this as a learning experience and possibly move on and get success elsewhere.

  42. Let me say this and tell you how different things are at schools. SHC loses their head coach and this generates a ton of commentary about how the program is down. Again, if a public school loses their head coach, I doubt it would generate too much commentary (though the Washington High situation last year was interesting).

    • Don L.,

      This is a good point. Ironically, Finley’s Armijo team went 1-9 (according to Maxpreps) this past season. I understand that they are in a rebuilding phase, but if the team doesn’t improve in the next couple of years, it would seem as his decision to leave Wash wasn’t a smart one (this, of course, excludes his reasoning of the travel time to get from his home to Wash and back).

  43. Irish Alumni | January 11, 2013 at 11:54 PM |

    No doubt John Lee was a hell of a guy and one who taught the kids about discipline and certain moralities to life that not many people can teach a young player in San Francisco. Moral of the story is, John Lee was just not producing what we needed, WINS. The program has gone down hill by the year, as someone mentioned above, we barely had enough to have a roster for a football squad this year? Does that say anything to you? His coaching techniques, his attitude. and respect towards individuals is there off the field, but on the field, it is not there. He is nervous, impatient, and not willing to do what is best for the TEAM. Let alone the numerous amounts of assistant coaches who were not willing to work with him, so they left. Coming personally from someone who has PLAYED in the more recent years. Great Coach, Love him, but it is time for a change.

  44. Irish Alumni2 | January 12, 2013 at 7:14 PM |

    Lee was good …. great guy!

  45. Lee is a good man, and a respected coach. Good luck to him in the future. Moving forward, SH has to decide what kind of coach/program they want. Football bring the biggest number of athletes to any campus. Next they need to give that type of commitment to get that level of coach and the program will follow. Who are the top potential candidates that are either available or would leave their current job to come to SH? A local guy who knows the city/area, and it would be nice if he has a decent knowledge of SH backround. If we want a good coach, we need to give one good reason to come here. SH has great potential, and gets good athletes on campus. SH must must get serious and court someone. SH must take a step forward with this move and not backward. Top 3 candidates?

    • Yes, agree. For whatever the reasons John lee didn’t get full support the new guy better if SH is serious.

  46. I hear Jeff Tedford is looking for work. His ultimate contribution was getting Cal the facilities, upgrades they needed to compete on a bigger scale. Too bad he wont be around to see the fruits of his labor. Im sure he can pull the right city strings to get a 7,000 seat football stadium equipped with huge HD scoreboard, state of the art weight room / fitness center, right down the street from SH.

  47. Haha, Ari, the state of the art weight room/fitness center is already in place on Franklin St. The other stuff, not yet..:)

  48. Tops three candidates
    1) Peralta
    2) Bluford
    3) Langridge

    All have WCAL head coaching expirence and available.

    • I don’t think there’s any chance Bluford would leave a full-time teaching position at SI.

      • I’d take Peralta out of the running-been there done that…he’s interested in a bigger larger role…

        • Why would Peralta be out of running? Unless he just doesnt want job. He’s coached at higher level and now my understanding he still helps out at MC. His son will soon graduate from SHC so I cant imagine he doesnt still care for the school. In my opinion he would be ideal:
          Alumni, extremely knowledgable, tremendous track record; well respected and liked. Again, in my opinion, it would be his to turn down.
          Maybe his knowledge and knowithall about football may intimidate the administration (ie butting of heads). But again, he is well respected and liked.

          No brainer to me (again, if he wants it). Boy, its tough without your own facility, infrastructure in place to attract serious interest. At least they play in argubly the nicest venue in the Bay Area.

      • Jeremy, unless that policy has changed, all catholic school teachers (even though they are part of the SFUSD), are under 1 year contracts. That student evaluation at the end of the school year is CRITICAL for them to be brought back the following school year. Bad evaluation and you are out of a job.

        So just because you have a full time teaching job at one of the schools doesnt guarantee that you are going to be there next year. Although the ones that have been there for 5+ years likely will be back every year until they decide to move to another opportunity. So Bluford conceivably could get a job a full time job at SH if there was an opening for the course he teaches at SI.

        • Cat in the Hat | January 14, 2013 at 10:15 AM |

          Yeah, a meteor filled with intergalactic space cats could also crash into the Pacific Ocean and rain soggy furballs upon us as well. Blu is an SI grad. Why would he leave to coach a bitter rival team that doesn’t even have a field? Crazy talk. Good luck in your coaching search SHCP.

          • Cat in the hat..although I believe you are correct about Bluford not leaving SI. Do some research you will find plenty of different alumni from all respective WCAL schools coaching at various schools of all sports. Brian Morgan went to SI and he coaches baseball and teaches at SHC as a current example and their are many more example like Serra’s baseball coach who went to SH. Heck, why would Mike Holgrem coach at SH once upon a time?

            • Cat in the Hat | January 15, 2013 at 12:25 AM |

              You make a valid point about coaches that graduated from various schools coaching at schools other than their alma mater. But no one leaves SI on their own. Can you think of anyone?

        • in the know | January 14, 2013 at 5:48 PM |

          They are not part of the SFUSD! are you crazy? its called the SF Archdiocese! You give kids way too much credit and control in the firing of teachers. The admin decides who stays and who goes. Just like everything else in school. Teachers that have tenur, and great evaluations will be more difficult to get rid of. But like anything, it can be done. The SH administration and AD’s have been quite shady the last few years, so it’s purely a waiting game.

          What Bluford did to get fired is not going to attract S to want him or to hire him. He won’t apply for the job anyway.

          Peralta, might, but he still coaches at Marin Catholic and I believe just got an Administration job. Doubt he would leave that pay with one kid in college nd another on the way to college.

          They will do what they always do, open it up and see who applies. They better hurry up cause the clock is ticking, and spring ball needs to be organized, as well as all the other tedious off season things a head coach does without getting paid.

    • If SHCP is smart, they’ll promote the DC, McLaughlin to take over that job. He’s a young coach with a bright future. The Irish defense was the lone brightspot over the last couple years and kept the Irish in games they had no business being in.

      • SH and City Fan | January 14, 2013 at 11:38 PM |

        That would be the worst thing to do. Would not benefit the program at all. Probably make it worse

  49. I do think you are right, BeeFeez. However, I don’t think they are looking within at this time which is a good thing as long as they find a good coach. Mclaughlin definitely is a bright spot but sometimes it is all about timing as well.

    • You may be right. But I really enjoyed watching his Defense play. They brought pressure all game long. They confused QB’s all season long.

      • SHC has a lot of challenges when it comes to out door sports but its not a bad job. 1) academics aren’t going to be an issue like public schools 2) the best league in nor cal. 3)athletes are on campus. 4) solid parental support . 4) a blank slate. It’s not like your following a coaching great. 5) if you can find a feeder program and identify kids you’ll start to be like every other wcal school.

        Beefeez? You might be on to something with the DC. But 2-3 good coaches don’t make a staff. Where are the other 15 going to come from?

        Think WCAL experience is a must. No AAA guy is ready for the likes of coaching week in and week out of this league.

        • Turtle I agree. I know there are challenges but someone with vigor and the knowledge will want the football job with all the postives you listed. Besides, Im sure if a prospective coach is smart he can negotiate his fee for the extra duties and ask about the facilities for the future. Yes, SH could use a bigger field for lots of the outdoor sports, heck, it needs a track too but it still is the only school in the city to send two Olympians to Britian the last I checked. Hopefully, the athletic directors are trying to secure fields closer to SHC for practices.

  50. Having to find fields to practice on and then bussing players back and forth, dwindling male student population, kids who just play basketball. Who wants that job when they know another WCAL San Francisco school with its own field and an increasing student population will have a job opening soon or sooner.

  51. he might be a good mentor,but he has dogged so much talent over the years.and his record against si was terrible.serra had a pool to pick out of si picks out of marin,riordan may have found theres.he had sunsets left overs and few sprinkled from here and there in the city,personally its not just his fault kids that at these local wcal schools where left on the waiting list.somebody is dropping the the jr that steps up for serra and si for baseball

  52. Number of players on the varsity squad has always been an issue. We had about 25/30 in ’89. Someone explain that.

    • Didn’t we have Jim Conelly as coach then, that pretty much explains it. Although we were all boys it was well known lots of guys did not want to play during those days due to having a lousy program.

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