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Obituary

Bob DiGrazia, legendary California coach, passes away at 79.

Bob DiGrazia
Bob DiGrazia was a legend in the Bay Area, leading University of California to 202 victories over 28 years.
-- University of California web site photo --

(Wednesday, December 13, 2006) -- Bob DiGrazia, the all-time winningest coach at the University of California and the Golden Bears' first All-American player, passed away Monday in Walnut Creek, Calif. DiGrazia, who suffered from Parkinson's disease, was 79.

"Cal soccer has lost one of the all-time greats today, and he was one of the all-time greats in much more than being a coach," Cal's current coach, Kevin Grimes said. "He was a great husband, a great father and a great mentor to 28 years of Cal soccer players. When college soccer talks about the all-time legendary coaches in the game, Bob DiGrazia will be right up there on the top of their list. This is a sad day for us all. We're really going to miss him."

In recent years, DiGrazia was the chair of the "Friends of Cal Soccer" booster organization. In 2004, the Bob DiGrazia Scholarship Fund was established in his honor.

The Golden Bears' longest-tenured soccer head coach, DiGrazia compiled a 202-133-39 (.592) record over from 1953-80. He led Cal to its first two NCAA tournament appearances in 1960 and 1977 and was named the Far West Region "Coach of the Year" in 1977 and 1983. He was the recipient of the 43rd annual Honor Award from the National Soccer Coaches Association of America, an organization he served as executive secretary for 12 years.

An assistant athletic director at Cal for six years after his coaching career ended, DiGrazia was inducted into the school's Hall of Fame in 1991. He also served as the executive secretary of the Big C Society for several years.

Fifteen Bears collected a total of 19 All-American honors under DiGrazia with former notables Dan Salvemini (an All-American from 1976-78), Pablo Dibos Perez (1957-58) and Tim Tarpley (1964-65) collecting multiple awards.

A San Francisco native, DiGrazia lettered in soccer and track at Balboa High School in the city. An all-conference halfback for Cal from 1948-50, he became the Bears' first All-American in 1950. He graduated from Cal with a bachelor's degree in physical education in 1950 and became an assistant coach for the Bears in 1952 before being promoted to the head job for the next season.

DiGrazia continued his playing career after leaving Cal, trying out for the 1952 United States Olympic team and competing for the California state amateur championship team in 1953-54. He was selected to the San Francisco All-Star team that played professional clubs Glasgow Celtic (Scotland), Manchester United (England) and Grasshoppers (Switzerland).

"We used to play together when we were young, at the Olympic club in 1950," said retired University of San Francisco coach Stephen Negoesco, another Bay Area coaching legend. "He was a good athlete. You can't bring those things back.

"He figured out how to upgrade the program at Cal until they were as competitive as UCLA and USF. He didn't quit trying to develop the game. Cal started recruiting well, which made it tough for me, because he got some of the kids we wanted. It was good competition and we got along fine. I'm sorry to hear about his loss."

DiGrazia is survived by his sister Lorraine; his children Bob, Bill, Julie and Tom; his wife June and her children Jay and Julie; eight grandchildren and two great grandchildren.

A funeral service is scheduled for Friday at 11 a.m. (PT) at the Oakmont Memorial Park and Mortuary at in Lafayette, Calif. In lieu of flowers, the family requests that donations be made to:

Bob DiGrazia Soccer Scholarship Fund
c\o Athletic Development Office
University of California
195 Haas Pavilion,
Berkeley, California 94720

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