Jerry Fenton to retire from teaching, coaching after 41 years
Coach honored with presentation before freshman football game at Orange Glen
November 13, 2013After 41 years of teaching and coaching, Valley Center High School freshman football Coach Jerry Fenton will retire at the end of the school year.
Coach Fenton, one of the "Original 16" teachers that started Valley Center High School, was honored before Thursday night's freshman football game at Orange Glen High School, where he worked as a coach and teacher before coming to Valley Center in 1998. Fenton graduated from Orange Glen in 1968 and was part of the 1967 OGHS football team that won the CIF championship.
Coach Jerry Fenton was given a plaque by both Valley Center and Orange Glen in honor of his years of teaching and coaching at both schools. Photo by Dan Kidder / Valley Roadrunner
Before Thursday night's game, a group of teachers from VCHS and OGHS gathered on the field to honor Coach Fenton, as the athletic directors from both schools presented him with a plaque in honor of his years of dedicated service to both communities. The principals of both schools also spoke briefly about Fenton's accomplishments and about what he has meant as both an educator and a mentor to so many who have come through the two schools.
VCHS Principal Ron McCowan mentioned how he was a student in Mr. Fenton's fourth grade Sunday School class, and spoke later about the impact he has seen Fenton have on so many around him.
"He is probably the most positive guy I've ever worked with," McCowan said after the ceremony. "He will find the good in every student, and he's truly a servant leader. The example he's left and the wisdom he's shared has not only impacted me, but all the staff here. He's leaving a tremendous legacy at VCHS, both as a teacher and as a coach. You just can't replace a guy like Jerry."
"Jerry always makes you feel good about yourself," said VCHS Athletic Director Mike Cummings, who is also the head coach for the varsity cross-country and track & field teams. "When I started coaching, he was the head coach and I was just an assistant, and we've coached together for 32 years now. Who he is and how he coaches is so much a part of who I am now. He would say the best things about me, and after a while, I started believing it. I know I wasn't as good as what he said about me, but he's the kind of guy that you want to live up to all the good things he says about you. I've worked extra hard to be the kind of teacher and coach that he said I was."
"I'm so bummed, I hoped he was just retiring from teaching and not from coaching," VCHS varsity football coach Rob Gilster said with a laugh. "He's so good for the kids because he invests so much of himself in them. He's so positive, he's just magnetic."
Coach Fenton was very gracious in accepting the plaque and, during the ceremony, walked down the line of the gathered VCHS staff and his freshman football team, shaking every single person's hand and thanking them for being there.
Just as the game began, he still took a moment to share what the presentation meant to him.
"Wow, this is just awesome," he said. "It means so much to be able to share this with both schools."
And as the opening kickoff boomed into the night, Coach Fenton turned back to his team with a big smile, ready to coach his final freshman football game.