Written by: John Corona
Both past and present King High Coaches and their long time Athletic Director will be honored on the Riverside Sport Hall of Fame “Wall of Distinction” ceremony on Jan. 21st at 11 am. This annual event, which this year, honors 20 college and high school coaches and athletic administrators will be held at Newman Park on the corner of Magnolia and 14th Street.
King’s first baseball coach, Rich Graves, along with current Girls Tennis Coach, Becky Gagnon and Boys and Girls Cross Country Coach Brad Peters are slated to be honored. Going onto the wall alongside them will King’s long-time athletic director Tony Masi.
Graves, who retired in 2006, not only got the King baseball program off the ground when the school opened but also served a year as athletic director before Masi took over the job in 2002. However, Graves is also being honored for his decades of service to Riverside Poly High where he coached both lower level football and was head baseball coach as well. He also served as a number of years as the Bears Athletic Director. Grave’s baseball teams at Poly were among the best in the Inland Empire consistently qualifying for the CIF Playoffs, and becoming one of the winning-est coaches in the history of the CIF-Southern Section. When he retired, he had over 426 wins to his credit. In 2007, his uniform number (24) was retired by the King Baseball program.
In his 13 years as AD, Tony Masi helped to transition, guide and lead the Wolves Athletic Department through its infancy to one of the most academically and athletically successful programs in the CIF Southern Section. His leadership was vital as the Wolves had to “step up their game” going from the Sunkist League to the old Ivy league to the Big VIII and dealing with the challenges that each transition presented. Under his watch, the King Athletic program won 5 CIF Championships; over 200 league Championships and made trips to CIF a regularity in all of its programs. Prior to his time at King, Masi was the Athletic Director at Ramona High School and for a number of years, served as the school’s highly successful head basketball coach and girls softball coach. Masi is a member of the Ramona High school Hall of Fame.
Having just completed her 26th season of coaching Girls Tennis at both Arlington and King High Schools. Becky Gagnon has won 461 games; 18 league championships and has finished in the “Elite 8” of CIF 10 times. One of her most outstanding accomplishments at King is that in 17 years of league matches the Lady Wolves have gone 179-3, including a space in time where they won 104 games in a row!!! Gagnon was named a California State Model coach of the year in 2007 and has been recognized by the U.S. Tennis Association for her work in promoting the sport of Tennis.
Under the leadership of Brad Peters, the King Cross Country program has been one of the most successful in the history of Riverside. Peters’ Boys and Girls teams have won some 471 dual meets in his 18 years at the helm. Under his watch, King has won a combined (boys and girls) 19 League championships; made 35 trips to CIF including 19 CIF finals appearances and 3 teams have made it to the State Meet. Coach Peters has also coached dozens of individuals to All-League- All-CIF and All-State accolades over the years. Peters was named a State Model coach of the Year in 2015.
This recognition afforded these four King staff members certainly cannot be encapsulated in just the wins and losses of these individuals but the enormous impact each has had on the countless student-athletes they have served. This dedication and service to each individual’s school community should not be overlooked during a time when we want to promote and encourage well-rounded students more than ever.