Girls BB: Carondelet’s Gartner honored

Careful researching of the career record of Carondelet (Concord) head coach Margaret Gartner shows she had 10 more career wins than she thought she had entering the 2013-2014 season

As quiet as its kept, Carondelet head coach Margaret Gartner, now in her 22nd year at the Cougars helm, has joined the 500-win club. In fact, its been kept so quiet even Gartner didn’t realize she had reached the magic milestone.

Prior to the beginning of the season I received an email from Joe Grupalo, the father of Carondelet senior guard Gabriella Grupalo. In it “Giuseppe,” as I’ve affectionately begun calling him since, said that when filling out paperwork for one of the tournaments Carondelet is playing in, he saw Gartner had given him her career record as 492-120 to begin the current season.

Something about the record didn’t seem correct to me since I remember some of Gartner’s early teams having double-digit losses, plus the number of games divided by 21 years seemed a little low. So we dispatched Grupalo, an El Cerrito firefighter that went to De La Salle and played baseball, and also football for legendary coach Bob Ladouceur, to investigate and research Gartner’s record.

After going through yearbooks, old newspaper clippings and articles found in a box, and with assistance of parents and players of past and present Cougars girls, Grupalo had the correct record after finally getting information from the 2002-2003 season.

What he found out was Gartner had nine more losses than originally reported, but she had 10 more wins, meaning her record was actually 502-129 to begin this season. The actual 500th win milestone occurred on February 27, 2013 in a CIFNCS Division II third round 78-37 win over Dublin.

As a result, Gartner, who won a CIF Division II state title in 2004 and has had three D2 state runner-up finishes, and whose team made it to the Northern Regional Open Division quarterfinals last season, joins three other Bay Area coaches that have reached the 500 career win mark.

The all time leader is current St. Francis (Mountain View) head coach), former San Francisco Sacred Heart Cathedral head coach and 2006 State Coach of the Year Brian Harrigan. He currently has 639 wins which puts him in the top five on the All-Time Most Career Wins List in the Cal-Hi Sports State Record Book. Next is current Archbishop Mitty (San Jose) head coach and 1999 State Coach of the Year Sue Phillips. She now currently sports 582 wins, and that gets her a top 10 entry on the list. The third Bay Area coach on the list with 500 wins is former Berkeley head coach and 1991 State Coach of the Year Gene Nakamura and his 563 career victories.

“Good for me. I just want this team to win state,” Gartner told Grupalo in her customary humble fashion when told of her milestone.

An interesting twist that there’s no way to verify if its the most ever, is with a blowout win over Sacramento Rio Americano on Thursday night, Gartner’s 503 wins coupled with the 407 wins of top assistant and 1995 State Coach of the Year Scott Brown, gives them 910 victories combined.

The change in the number caught both the school and me by surprise. The school had planned a celebration once she reached the milestone. Now they’ll have it an an early home game to be announced. When Grupalo originally said the win would most likely come at the West Coast Jamboree between Christmas and New Years, as a director of the Jamboree, I had planned to honor the veteran coach on the spot.

Instead, the Jamboree and its two of its media sponsors, Cal-Hi Sports and SportStars Magazine will honor Coach Gartner with the presentation of a certificate of achievement prior to the tip-off of the Cougars Platinum Division opening round game against Sacred Heart Cathedral (San Francisco) at 8 pm on December 27 at Las Positas College in Livermore.

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