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Former Cathedral Catholic softball coach Mauro made players better and made them better people

Margaret Mauro is winningest softball coach in the history of the San Diego Section with a 770-334-13 record.
Margaret Mauro is winningest softball coach in the history of the San Diego Section with a 770-334-13 record.
(Cathedral Catholic courtesy photo)

Margaret Mauro, former Cathedral softball coach, will be inducted into San Diego High School Coaching Legends Hall of Fame

She was a no-nonsense coach who demanded the best of herself and her players.

And for 41 years, it worked for Margaret Mauro.

When she retired after the 2019 school year, Mauro was the winningest softball coach in the history of the San Diego Section with a 770-334-13 record to go along with 24 league championships, nine CIF titles and seven other appearances in the championship game.

“I didn’t pull any punches,” said Mauro, who started her career at USDHS as an English teacher and transitioned into administration when the school moved to Carmel Valley and was renamed. “My players knew where the stood.

“There were times I had to use my outside voice to get their attention.

“There were times I didn’t say anything.”

On Nov. 3, Mauro and 11 others will be celebrated as San Diego High School Coaching Legends and Bob Breitbard Meritorious honorees at the 22nd annual Induction Dinner at the Scottish Rite Center in Mission Valley.

“I loved playing for Margaret,” said Megan Faraimo, who won 75 games as a pitcher at Cathedral Catholic, was the Gatorade National Player of the Year in 2018, and is a three-time All-American at UCLA heading into her senior season.

“She challenged us.

“She wanted to make us better as people as well as players.

“She instilled a passion for the game. She wanted us to focus, always give our best.

“I had a hard time in high school, but she was always there for me, there every step of the way.

”She helped me mentally prepare for not only what was at hand, but for the future.

“Then, my senior year, she gave me more responsibility.

“People say I’m a great leader now, but my leadership skills come from the lessons I learned from Margaret Mauro.”

Mauro played basketball and softball at St. Anthony High in Long Beach.

She thought about playing basketball at San Diego State, but instead chose to attend the University of San Diego, where she didn’t play.

At age 21, just after her college graduation, Mauro was hired to coach softball and girls basketball at USDHS.

“At first, it was kind of a ‘what-the-heck-am-I-doing’ situation,” Mauro said. “I was coaching and teaching English, so it was a challenge.”

Mauro became the English Department chair, moved into administration in 2000 and later became an assistant principal … all while coaching softball.

“We won our first CIF championship in ’82, that’s when I thought I might stick around,” Mauro said. “People ask if I have a favorite team.

“That’s hard to say, but you never forget your first championship.”

Poway softball coach Jim Bennett and Jon Moore of Torrey Pines had some epic battles with Mauro and Cathedral Catholic.

“Margaret always had quality players,” said Bennett, who has 376 career wins, ranking fifth in the San Diego Section. “But she never screwed up a good team.

“She was crafty, a standup person … and educator first. That’s why I enjoyed competing against her.

“She embraced it when the CIF went from enrollment-based playoffs to competitive balance.

“She enjoyed playing with the big boys.”

Bennett remembers a pair of epic games against Cathedral Catholic in 2015, one a 1-0 Poway win in the Open Division championship game.

Moore remembers losing a CIF playoff game to the Dons in Faraimo’s junior year in 2016.

“We lost 3-2 in eight innings, not like I have total recall of that game,” said Moore, who ranks No. 2 in the San Diego Section with 491 wins.

“Margaret’s teams were always well prepared. You had to be on your game to stay with her.

“She was knowledgeable, respectful, classy and tough. She didn’t bend her standards.

“The rules were there for one reason … to be followed.

“And I loved playing at Cathedral because the field was immaculate.”

In retirement, Mauro is playing as much golf as she can, sometimes three times a week.

She’s also coaching a team of 6-year-olds for a former player.

The team’s name is Green Eggs and Slam.

“Wins are important, absolutely,” Mauro said. “But it was also about how you treat people, about the interactions with your players, about singing in the vans on road trips.

“I loved the strategy of the game, working two or three batters ahead, whether we were on offense or defense.

“I loved exchanging information with my players.

“I miss the people, the interaction with the kids.

“But after hitting thousands of ground balls, thousands of fly balls, throwing batting practice to anyone who wanted to hit, it was time.

“Softball is an outdoor sport, so the elements — rain, cold, win, heat — can wear you out.”

Mauro said it was also about respecting your opponents, never taking anyone lightly, knowing when to step on the gas and when to back off.

“In the end, I hope I made my kids better players,” Mauro said. “But I also hope I made them better people.”

COACHING LEGENDS DINNER

What: 22nd annual San Diego High School Coaching Legends Hall of Fame Induction Dinner

When: Nov. 3

Where: Scottish Rite Center in Mission Valley

Cost: $60, open to the public. A limited number of tickets are available at the door.

INDUCTEES

Laurie Berger, Morse/Serra, field hockey

Berger began a 48-year coaching career at Morse in 1976, moving to Serra in 1985, coaching field hockey, soccer and lacrosse. In 37 seasons at Serra, Berger’s field hockey teams won 31 league championships, 17 CIF championships, appearing in 30 CIF finals. She won 744 games at Serra and another 135 in nine seasons at Morse, including nine league titles. Her Serra teams won seven straight CIF titles and set a Section record with 95 straight wins.

Jerry Fleischhacker, La Jolla Country Day, boys soccer

Fleischhaker arrived at La Jolla Country Day in 1991 and finished his career with a 364-215-125 record, winning five league championships, two CIF titles, reaching the CIF finals eight other times and the semifinals 16 times. He also won three league championships as boys tennis coach. Fleischhaker was a full-time Upper School teacher at LJCD, serving as the History Department Chair for 20 years and Director of Summer School Programs for 19.

Connie Halfaker, Ramona, girls volleyball

In her 20 years at Ramona, Halfaker turned around the girls volleyball program, leading the Bulldogs to five straight league titles and a 35-1 league record at one point. Halfaker led Ramona to a pair of CIF championships in five CIF finals as well as five appearances in the State playoffs.

Don Jones, Rancho Bernardo, boys & girls cross country and track

Opening Rancho Bernardo in 1991, Jones’ teams won 39 league titles, 15 CIF Division I championships, placed second 11 times in Division I, and had a combined dual-meet record of 434-94-5. Jones’ track teams produced 90 San Diego Section CIF champions, 43 State medalists, five state champions, two state record setters and a National High School Federation record holder.

Ron Peet, San Pasqual, boys & girls tennis

Teaching and coaching at his alma mater, Peet put in 39 years at San Pasqual. His boys teams won 21 league championships and reached the CIF finals six times. From 2000-2008, the boys rolled up 100 straight wins in league competition. On the girls side, the Eagles won 15 league title under Peet’s guidance, won a CIF championship and placed second 11 times. The San Pasqual girls won 1,003 dual matches.

Chris Ruff, Helix/El Capitan/Del Norte, boys & girls track

Ruff made three head coaching stops in 19 years — Helix (1999-2001), El Capitan (2002-2008) and Del Norte (2009-2018). In those 19 years, his teams posted a 181-31-5 dual-meet record, winning 20 league championships, three CIF Boys titles and was second in the CIF finals three times.

Jay Trousdale, Poway, girls basketball

No one in the history of the San Diego Section has won more games as a girls basketball coach, with Trousdale posting a 726-286 record. The 726 also ranks fifth all-time in the state. Over 35 seasons at Poway, the Titans won 12 Palomar League championships, four CIF titles, losing six times in the CIF championship game. Remarkably, Trousdale never had a losing season.

Bob Breitbard Meritorious Inductees

Steve Coover, San Diego County Football Officials Association

Following in his father’s footsteps, Coover began officiating in 1976. He worked on the field for 36 years, then came out of retirement this season. He has worked six CIF championship games, 20 CIF semifinals and a state championship. He’s the Instructional Chair for the SDCFOA, is the CIF Football Rules Interpreter for the state and is a paid observer of officials for several West Coast football conferences as well as the NFL.

Judge Peter L. Gallagher, Lions Baseball Tournament Director

A San Diego Superior Court Judge, Gallagher is also focused on community service. Since 1990 his focus has been on the annual Lions Baseball Tournament. Under Gallagher’s leadership, the Lions Tournament, which was founded in 1951 — making it the oldest in the state, has grown is size and stature. Since he took over as director in 2003, the tournament is now among the largest in the nation, annually drawing as many as 140 teams from all over the country.

Bill Johnston, San Diego Padres

Johnston spent 38 seasons with the San Diego Chargers, 27 as Director of Media Relations and was a key figure in the Alex Spanos All-Star Game. In 2017, he joined the San Diego Padres in an executive capacity. He organized the annual Padres High School All-Star Game in Petco Park as well as the Padres High School Coach of the Week and Year programs. He is the past director of the San Diego Sports Association and currently serves on that organization’s board of directors.

Jerry Schniepp, former CIF San Diego Section Commissioner

Schniepp retired as Commissioner of the San Diego Section in 2020 after 10 years in charge. He is credited with making several positive changes in the Section. A coach at heart, he led the Helix baseball team to the 1988 CIF Championship, a second-place finish in the CIF title game and four league titles. He also served a decade in the Grossmont District as an administrator, including principal at Santana, and was coordinator of athletics in the Sweetwater High School District.


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