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A Partnership in Success

For almost three decades, Flintridge Sacred Heart co-Coach Frank Pace and Armen Keteyian have forged a friendship full of athletic and entertainment success

July 31, 2008|By Dylan Kruse

The tale of Keteyian and Pace has its roots in San Diego. Pace was working for the Phillips Organisation, a place he describes as “a funky, Pacific beach sports marketing firm,” when he first met and hired Keteyian in early 1980.

While Phillips was far from a household name in the sports world at the time, it was blessed with some top-end clients, including Ektelon, the world’s No. 1 racquetball company, Speedo, the country’s No. 1 swimwear company, and Pony, one of the country’s top athletic shoe companies.

It was an opportunity for the upstart pair to compete with the heavyweights of the sports world.

“It was an advantage to me to go through what I did at Phillips before my career took off in a different direction,” said Keteyian, who has gone on to pen nine books, including his first about racquetball through contacts he made while at Phillips.

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Among the notable feats the pair accomplished while at Phillips was to create the United States Triathlon series, which eventually transpired into an Olympic sport.

San Diego was a hotbed for triathletes at the time and Pace and Keteyian were quick to capitalize, gaining a national sponsor for the series to get it off the ground and eventually watch it morph into a burgeoning sport.

“We pretty much invented an Olympic sport — the short-course triathlon,” said Pace, who is set to embark on his 11th season as the Sacred Heart co-coach this season alongside Kathy Desmond.

“Well, Frank did, I just wrote the press releases,” Keteyian quipped.

The triathlon series was just the beginning, as their next major accomplishment came in the media capital of America.

Through the company’s affiliation with Pony, Pace and Keteyian were put in charge of orchestrating Reggie Jackson’s return-to-New York press conference in 1982 after he had jumped ship to the California Angels. It was the first time Jackson had been back in New York since Yankees owner George Steinbrenner elected not to bring Jackson back after his contract ended in 1981.

“Reggie hits a home run off [Ron] Guidry to win the game and the entire New York crowd was chanting ‘Steinbrenner sucks, Steinbrenner sucks,’” Pace said. “For us to go into New York City and pull that off, it was a pretty big confidence boost.”

Gaining the opportunity to work with elite organizations and companies while at Phillips eventually paid dividends for Pace and Keteyian.

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