Indeed, it was a rather picturesque setting as the Rebels defeated the Sharks for their first win of the season on a warm autumn afternoon in the sunny shoreline town.
Sadly, it was the last time I would ever have the fortune of talking to Tom Fry.
No matter how many years or how many times I’ve written columns, you’re never quite sure how anybody’s going to take them.
The first time I had an occasion to talk with Tom Fry, he made a beeline for me at a Prep game, grabbed me by the shoulders, looked me in the eye ... and thanked me.
In the midst of a miserable losing season just a year removed from a CIF championship, he expressed that my column about a Rebels loss had lightened up the mood of the team and been perfect timing. Since that day, Tom went out of his way to find me at Prep events, be it football or basketball or baseball, what have you, just to say hello.
He always had a smile, a handshake and a story waiting.
Looking back, that’s how I remember him — smiling.
It’s a rare thing, I think.
The Rebels have unfortunately lost more than they have won in recent years.
But it was hard to find Fry without a smile. He was just that type of guy.
He was a defensive coordinator by title, but more than that I think, just a guy who loved his job coaching and teaching and helping young kids grow into good people.
Coaching at any level of high school is often a thankless job, but as a defensive coordinator for a small preparatory school tucked under a freeway overpass, it’s obvious that Fry wasn’t in it for the notoriety. Likely not the pay, either.
No, he was the defensive coordinator from 1991 to 1997 and then again from 2002 until his untimely death just last week. And you don’t do anything for that long unless you have a love for it.
In my heart, I know he did just that, he loved coaching those players win or lose.