The Student News Site of Sacramento City College

The Express

The Student News Site of Sacramento City College

The Express

The Student News Site of Sacramento City College

The Express

Just can’t get away

City College track and field coach Bob Lanza with high jumper Cameron Pollock at a meet at UC Davis. Evan E. Duran | [email protected]

The room is cold. Cluttered. Simple. No computer on the desk, no phone on the wall. The only glimpse of life in the tiny office is the many plaques and pictures of triumphant athletes that hang on the otherwise bare, quiet white-washed walls.

Plain? Sure, these walls may seem plain to an onlooker, just like the old man himself. No trophies tell tales of his own achievements, no glory given to himself. However, once you look closer the walls share a fascinating story of a City College legend.

Bob Lanza, 74, has been with City College for 42 years. As a physical education instructor and coach of the women’s and men’s track teams for 33 years, he retired in 2003. He says he loved the game too much and returned in 2004 as an assistant coach for the women’s and men’s javelin and high jump.

While waiting to catch the bus for practice in late-March, Lanza shared some of his memories throughout the past years.

“I love to coach,” says Oakland-born-and-raised Lanza. “I guess you can say it’s in the blood.”

Checking his watch every so often, the small-framed man in his baseball hat, athletic clothes and tennis shoes does not want to be late for practice. Lanza is as dedicated to his athletes as they are to their sport.

“As a coach, you’re only as successful as the other coaches you’re working with and the athletes who really want to achieve success,” Lanza says.

The coach spoke of his greatest achievements: the accomplishments of his athletes. Three have gone to the Olympics, while countless others have gone on to four-year schools to compete, many with scholarships.

Twenty-two-year-old Susan Jackson was recently coached by Lanza and graduated from City College with a scholarship to Western State College in Colorado, where she competes in high jump.

“I would not be where I am without Coach Lanza,”

said Jackson, who won two state titles under Lanza’s coaching. “I love his words of encouragement. He actually listens to his athletes.”

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“It gives us great pleasure as coaches to see the young man or young woman graduate and go on,” he says. “That’s probably the most important thing.”

Lanza says he realized his passion for track and coaching while he was attending college.

“I love teaching and coaching. That’s the reason you do things because you like it,” Lanza says.

Just as Lanza appreciates his athletes, they in return appreciate him and his coaching style.

“His favorite quote is ‘Rome wasn’t built in a day.’ He says it to me a lot,” says 21-year-old Cameron Pollock with a chuckle. Pollock is a high jumper of Lanza’s.

“He’s a good dude. Very encouraging and knowledgeable,” Pollock says.

Lanza’s success as a coach has certainly not gone unnoticed, as he is in the Sports Hall of Fame for both City College and the California Community Colleges, which he says he feels honored to be a part of.

Lanza had a few different jobs before joining City College, but his true dream was to teach and coach at a community college.

After graduating from Idaho State with his master’s degree, Lanza chose City College because there was a job opening. He says he has loved his time here and has no regrets whatsoever.

Those walls in Lanza’s office tell the story of his success and the success of his athletes, who have gone on to do things they never would have dreamed of if it weren’t for his coaching. From an outsider’s view, Lanza may seem like a regular old guy. Simple, quiet. Just like the walls in his office. Once you get to know him you realize the legend he really is.

Once you get to know him you realize the legend he really is.

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