Jim Singiser Sr., father of Arroyo High School football head coach Jim Singiser, passed away peacefully at home in Hacienda Heights surrounded by his family on Monday afternoon. He had been in failing health since suffering a stroke in summer. He was 82.
Singiser Sr. was a fixture on Arroyo’s sideline for many years and a very vocal advocate of all Knights sports. Referees often caught an earful from Singiser Sr., as did Arroyo players and even coaches.
But make no mistake, despite his tough guy demure, he was big fan of high school sports, especially Arroyo, all the way to his final breaths.
“This was the last conversation we had with the doctor,” Singiser Jr. said. “The doctor said ‘he is fighting death. I am surprised he is still fighting at this stage’.
“And I said “Can you read his t-shirt? He is a Knight.’”
Opposing coaches weren’t immune to Singiser Sr.’s ire, either. Former Rosemead coach Matt Koffler got a full dose early in his career when he exacted revenge on Arroyo for running up a score in a previous year. Singiser Sr. was not amused and immediately let Koffler know.
“We ran a big post over the top from the 50-yard line and it was already 42-7,” Koffler recalled with a laugh. “And then his dad yelled at me. ‘Come on Koffler, you piece of (expletive)’. When we were shaking hands he said ‘Don’t shake the (expletive’s) hand. And I said ‘I shook that guy’s hand last year when he put 58 on me or whatever it was’.
“It was all just heat of the battle. Me and Jim became coaching friends. We would laugh about it. His dad would always bring it up and say ‘that’s why I like you, because you fired back.’
“We lost a good one. He was an old-school guy. Really, really old school. He was really supportive of coaches and players and what it meant to play sports in high school. He had a lot of respect for coaches.”
From passing tournaments to softball games and everything in between, Singiser Sr. often made the trek from Hacienda Heights to Arroyo to support the Knights. Due to his condition, he was mostly confined to the bleachers or the press box this season.
Aram’s take: My favorite memory of Singiser Sr. came in 2004 when Arroyo made the semifinals of the Division 7 playoffs with a 12-0 team and was playing against South Hills at Covina District Field. The Knights were not doing well in the game and while standing on the South Hills, I noticed a quite a few people trying to restrain Singiser Sr. in the north end zone and simultaneously usher Singiser Sr. back to the Arroyo sideline. He wasn’t happy about something and he was going after something or somebody to let it be known. That’s how he was! Old school to the extreme. Second favorite memory was either in 2005 or ’06 when I went out to cover an Arroyo playoff softball game. Singiser would always set up shop with his lawn chair down the outfield foul line. A couple of balls hit over outfielders’ heads were all he could take and an extremely sour Singiser Sr. packed up his chair and belongings and went home. It was great. Marveling at the antics of his dad was something Coach Singiser always enjoyed doing. Singiser Sr. was the nicest guy you’d ever want to meet before the game. A true gentleman. But when kickoff arrived, he was all business. I got to see Singiser Sr. a final time at the Arroyo-Los Altos game this season. It was about an hour before the game and he had been slowed a bit by his stroke, but he made sure to tell me about how crappy (he used stronger words) Los Altos’ field was and told me that I needed to “put that in your article”. Singiser Sr. will be definitely missed. They don’t make ‘em like him anymore.