Alonzo has 'enjoyed every minute' at CHS

Teacher, coach retiring after nearly four decades
By: Mike Ray, Colfax Record Sports Editor
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Coaching and teaching at Colfax High since 1973, it’s a safe bet to say that Mondo Alonzo has been through more than his share of Senior Nights. Now, 38 years after driving his VW bus – adorned with a surfboard rack – from Southern California to the foothills, Alonzo is having his own Senior Night. When Colfax High’s seniors march to “Pomp and Circumstance” during graduation ceremonies on June 4, Alonzo will also be saying goodbye to a career that has made him the longest-tenured instructor to ever teach at Colfax High. “Looking back at it all, it’s been a neat ride,” Alonzo said this week. “It just doesn’t seem like 37 years can go by that quick but I enjoyed every minute of it.” Alonzo remembers being hired at Colfax in 1973, selling his GTO, and purchasing the VW bus for the move to Northern California because gasoline had risen to $1 a gallon. “I liked the small setting of Colfax,” Alonzo said. “We came up from Orange County and it was an eye-opener. But my wife, Barbara, and I were able to raise a family here … it turned out very well.” Saying that Alonzo covered all of the bases in his nearly four-decade career at Colfax High is an understatement. After substitute teaching in the area for a year, he was officially hired as a full-time instructor in 1974. Besides teaching in the physical education department, Alonzo also taught driver’s training, history and special education classes. “I enjoyed it because with the kids it was always about the chase,” Alonzo said. “It sounds like a cliché because of the journey being more important than the destination, but it’s true.” On the athletics side, Alonzo coached football, track, the ski team, and, in 1989, resurrected the school’s wrestling program that had been defunct for over 20 years. “Mondo was in coaching for more than the wins and losses,” said Colfax High principal Rick Spears. “He was in it to teach the kids how to do it the right way ad win and lose with integrity.” Spears also noted that while Alonzo was the school’s first CIF Model Coach in 2003, he also did an excellent job with students in the classroom. “I can’t tell you how many kids Mondo took extra time with to make sure they were progressing to get their diploma,” Spears said. “He did a fantastic job.” While his enthusiasm and devotion to his profession helped shape the lives of hundreds of students over the years, Alonzo had a special place for his children. In track, Alonzo was able to coach his daughters – Brenda, now 33, and Lisa, now 25 – as both threw the discus, and his son Eric, now 30, who was both a weight and pole vault competitor, as well a football player and wrestler. In football, Alonzo worked as an assistant coach under Bob Claycamp, John Hayes and George Massick before teaming with Tony Martello as co-head coach in 1996. Under their tutelage from 1996 to 2005, the Falcons captured nine league championships, qualified for the playoffs in 10 straight seasons and also won three CIF section titles. “At Colfax, it took awhile to get going but the football thing has had a great run,” Alonzo said. “We’ve had a great group of hardworking kids and coaches come through here.” Some of Alonzo’s highlights from football include a 1978 win over an undefeated, un-scored upon River City team, and the school’s first CIF championship in 1986 when the Falcons shut out Oak Ridge, 3-0, after losing to the same team by three touchdowns just two weeks prior. He also singled out a 1997 CIF semi-final playoff game in the mud against Ripon in a contest that no one gave the Falcons a chance to win. “Ripon was a big, physical team and everyone was saying that they would just roll over us,” Alonzo said. “The kids really dug in and pulled it out. I think that win really put our program on the map.” Two other grid wins that Alonzo recalled vividly were the 2002 and 2003 CIF championship games. Giving way 700 to 900 students to both Manteca and Oakdale, respectively, the Falcons came away with the back-to-back title pennants. “Colfax has never had more than 1,000 students since I’ve been here,” Alonzo said. “We always coached our kids to play up.” In “retirement,” Alonzo plans to run his AA Driver’s School and will also still help with the football and track programs. “I’m retiring but they won’t be getting rid of me,” he joked.