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Berry's legacy lies in spring eternal

March 21, 2012|By Grant Gordon

"There's no quit in this group, they fought. You can't ask for any more."

Dan Berry after a game

Over the seasons, in this forum, upon these pages and in my own words, I've referred to Dan Berry in a lot of ways — good, bad, ugly and everything in between.

You'd be hard-pressed to find a happier man than Dan Berry after a Crescenta Valley High softball victory. He beamed. He joked. And you'd be bewildered, perplexed and taken aback when faced with the grumpy retorts from a displeased Dan Berry after a Falcons loss.

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The Falcons lost on Oct. 26, 2011, leaving everyone bewildered, perplexed and taken aback, but most of all, saddened.

He collapsed in a horrific incident on a Tuesday. It was on a Friday more than a week later that he was taken off a ventilator and, five days later, early on a Wednesday morning, he passed away.

People use grand descriptions and heap on hyperbole when someone dies. But there is no exaggeration in stating that our area sports landscape has been forever changed with Dan gone.

He was the greatest softball coach in the area's history. Period.

He was the architect of one of the area's most successful athletic programs across all sports. At the very least, he had a hand in the maturation of many a NCAA Division I prospect.

Quite simply, he leaves a void in Southern California softball, in the CIF Southern Section, in the Pacific League, in the area and, most notably, at Crescenta Valley High that can never be filled.

More than 500 wins, 20 Pacific League titles, countless playoff runs and a CIF title in 1986 — a first for any girls' team at CV, let alone the softball program — grace a laundry list of accomplishments. But as much as anything else, he was a fixture at CV, part of its blue and navy lifeblood. If he wasn't coaching softball, he was usually keeping up the field and if he wasn't there, he was in the coaches' office or at a game — whether it was basketball or volleyball or baseball. He was there.

Admittedly, I did not know Dan Berry well, but I believe I knew him as well as a sports writer could. Our conversations were long and a good portion of them were off the record. But that was about players and the program and the parents. In the grand scheme of things, he was as private as he was stubborn, he was as proud as he was passionate, he was as protective as he was competitive.

And in that regard, I believe Dan Berry very much died as he lived.

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