Jon Dimalante, after 17 seasons at the helm and a 113-76-1 career record, decided to step down as Arcadia High School’s football coach Tuesday morning.
Dimalante informed Arcadia athletic director Ryan Press of his decision and later did the same with the team. The news came as a bit of surprise to Press.
“He didn’t say a whole bunch,” Press said. “The main thing that he said was that the time was right. I know he had been thinking about it for a little while. Obviously those are enormous shoes to fill.”
Dimalante will continue teaching physical education, but leaves a gaping whole in a program he elevated to title contenders just last season. He led Arcadia to 10 Pacific League titles in his tenure, and leaves a class that just sent two players (Taylor Lagace, Myles Carr) to Division I schools (UCLA, Fresno State).
Dimalante said he has educational goals he wants to achieve, but certainly leaving the program is the hardest thing he’s had to do.
“It was the right time,” he said. “I love these kids who have played here for me. That’s going to be the hardest thing, not working with them every day. I’m going to be their biggest fan.”
It’s more than Arcadia football Dimalante will miss about leaving.
“The community, the players, the coaches that worked with me,” he said. “It’s just been a wonderful 17 years, and I wouldn’t trade a minute of it. This is my home. I have nothing but great feelings here.”
Dimalante is long considered a father figure to many of his current and former players, and that’s evident by the droves of former players who make their way back to Arcadia year in and year out.
“I’ll miss seeing my players work hard and see them grow,” Dimalante said. “I’ve been to a lot of weddings and everything else in between.”
Among the players who have remained in touch with the program is UCLA linebacker Todd Golper, who will remember Dimalante as a coach who underscored unity.
“‘It’s not about you, it’s about us,’” Golper said. “A typical line from coach D that represented the values he preached and coached upon us: selflessness,loyalty, strength, and brotherhood. I had the pleasure to live the meaning of these words under Coach Jon Dimalante.
“He will be missed, not only as a coach who always did more with less, but as a man who molded boys into men. The responsibility of a high school football coach goes so far beyond wins and losses. Coach D understood that. He lived it. There is no finer man I’ve ever been coached by in my entire athletic career then Coach D.”
As for hiring the next Arcadia coach and whether it’ll be a promotion from within or looking externally, that’s something Press has not had time to grasp just yet.
“I haven’t had that discussion with the rest of the administration,” he said. “I just found out a couple hours ago. We’ll find out and go from there.”