The San Francisco Italian Athletic Club (SFIAC) and its 501c3 foundation (SFIACF) have announced the winners of their 6th Annual San Francisco High School Awards.
After a two-year hiatus, including last year when there was only a press conference at the SFIAC Clubhouse located at 1630 Stockton Street in San Francisco and no spaghetti and meatballs dinner, the awards banquet is back.
On Monday, May 16 250-plus people will gather at the Clubhouse to honor this year’s winners and special guests of honor.
The SFIAC is 104 years old and is one of the oldest Italian Athletic Clubs in the nation. The awards program is modeled after the New York Downtown Athletic Club's Heisman Trophy and recognizes the top high school athletes and coaches in the City of San Francisco.
Each of the Awards has been named after an Italian-American or club member with ties to San Francisco and high character that makes them a great role model for our recipients. The event is traditionally a fundraiser that supports high school sports in San Francisco.
This year players and coaches from an unprecedented three CIF state championship teams, the football teams from Balboa and Sacred Heart Cathedral, and the Stuart Hall boy’s basketball team, are among the 43 individuals and teams being honored.
For this year’s banquet the SFIAC has named five individuals as Special Guests of Honor.
Donald Collins and John Zlatunich
Most people familiar with high school sports in San Francisco know Donald Collins as the Commissioner of the CIF San Francisco Section/Academic Athletic Association and prior to his 20-year stint in that post he was a basketball referee. What they don’t know is Collins is a Yale educated attorney who served as a staff attorney for the US Court of Appeals (9th Circuit) and is widely published.
Concurrent with Collins retiring Assistant Commissioner John Zlatunich, his first hire, will also be retiring. During their time leading the section they were instrumental in making inroads into innovative new ideas that benefitted the student-athletes they served.
Brian Harrigan (basketball) and Ed Nevius (baseball, soccer)
When Harrigan retired in 2017 he was the all-time winningest girl’s basketball coach in the CIF Central Coast Section and No. 4 in the state with 703 career victories according to the Cal-Hi Sports Online Record. Harrigan was recently passed by Archbishop Mitty-San Jose but is still No. 2 in the CCS and now No. 6 all time in the state. Besides his coaching wins at St. Rose-San Francisco (1982-1990), Sacred Heart Cathedral-San Francisco (1991-2009) and St. Francis-Mountain View (2011-2017), Harrigan’s teams at Sacred Heart Cathedral won four CIF state championships with the 2007 team that went 33-0 being named the mythical national champions.
Nevius coached baseball and soccer at Balboa and was a 1954 graduate. Born and raised in San Francisco, Ed taught for 36 years in the SFUSD and retired as one of the most respected coaches in AAA history. In baseball Coach Nevius led the Bucs to 351-113 record and 10 AAA Championships. Notably they won five straight from 1981-85. His team’s also won two Trans Bay championships. In 13 years coaching soccer, Nevius led the Bucs to 66-26-10 record and an AAA Championship plus two Round Robin Championships. The Bucs never had a losing record in baseball or soccer under Nevius.
Nevius and Harrigan were to be honored with the Dante Benedetti Coaching Trophy in 2020 for lifetime coaching achievements but the pandemic cancelled the banquet.
Beima coached volleyball at Sacred Heart Cathedral for 24 years including the last 20 as the Head Coach. During her tenure the Fightin’ Irish won 500 games, seven CIF Central Coast Section championships, five CIF NorCal Championships, and the 2014 CIF Division III state championship. More than winning games Beima was great role model and inspirational leader in the San Francisco volleyball community.
Beima recently retired to become the school’s Athletic Director. This year the SFIAC is creating the Margi Beima Volleyball Trophy to recognize her tremendous contributions to volleyball in San Francisco.
SFIAC Athlete of the Year Award – Awarded to the male and female Athletes of the Year.
SFIAC Male Athlete of the Year – Ray-John Spears of Sacred Heart Cathedral Football and Basketball. In football Spears led the Fightin’ Irish to a CIF Central Coast Section Division 3 Championship, the CIF state 4-A Bowl Game championship and a win in the Bruce Mahoney Game. The Irish won eight of their last 10 games after starting the season 0-5. They caught fire after Spears was inserted at quarterback where Ray-John completed 62% of his passes while throwing for 25 TDs and more than 2000 yards. He also rushed for 600 yards and six scores. In the state title game Spears was 15-of-22 for 300 yards and five touchdowns. In basketball Spears was a four year starter and was a First Team All-West Catholic Athletic League selection as a senior.
SFIAC Female Athlete of the Year – Claire Untalan of St. Ignatius Basketball and Volleyball. The Wildcats senior is a winner for the second straight year. Untalan has been a dominant player on both the basketball and volleyball courts. She achieved the rare feat of being First Team All-West Catholic Athletic League in both volleyball and basketball. In basketball Claire averaged a near double-double with 11 points and nine rebounds per game and helped led St. Ignatius to the CIF state Northern Regional Division I title game. Untalan will continue her basketball career next year at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo.
The Angelo “Hank” Luisetti Scholar Athlete Trophy - Luisetti, who passed away in 2002, grew up in North Beach and became one of the greatest basketball players and innovators of all-time. Luisetti is credited with inventing/popularizing the one hand jump shot in the era of the two hand set shot. Luisetti starred at Galileo (Class of 1934) where he led the Lions to back-to-back AAA championships and then went on to star at Stanford where he led his team to Pacific Coast Conference championships in all three years he was on varsity. In 1937 Luisetti led Stanford to the National Championship. Hank became a national phenom after Stanford broke Long Island University’s 42-game winning streak before a sell-out crowd at Madison Square Garden, and then a couple days later he scored a record 50 points in a game versus Duquesne. Luisetti was a three-time All-American and two-time Helms National Player of the Year. He was inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame and Bay Area Hall of Fame as part of both of their inaugural classes. During World War II Luisetti served as a naval officer
2022 Luisetti Female Scholar Athlete of the Year – Annabel Schneiberg of Lick-Wilmerding. Schneiberg has been one of the best players in San Francisco ever since playing on the Tigers varsity as a freshman. In four seasons she’s led the team to four Bay Counties League – West championships. Annabel was the BCL – West Player of the Year in 2020 and 2022 and has received All-Metro recognition from the San Francisco Chronicle and All-State recognition from Cal-Hi Sports. Annabel was one of the SFIAC Athletes of the Year in 2020. Schneiberg is also a great student and will be continuing her basketball career on a scholarship at UC Santa Barbara. .
2022 Luisetti Male Scholar Athlete of the Year – Silas Bahlibi of Sacred Heart Cathedral. In his first year of organized football Bahlibi wreaked havoc on the defensive line for the Fightin’ Irish. Silas was recognized as a First Team All-WCAL selection and All-Metro by the San Francisco Chronicle. More significantly Bahlibi was a great student in the classroom and will be continuing his education next year in South Bend at Notre Dame University.
Uncle Abe Award
This award was created in 2014 by Marty Lurie, the voice of the Giant’s Pre-Game Show. Starting this year Marty is partnering with the SFIAC Foundation and sponsor Original Joe’s Restaurant to add the Uncle Abe Award to its roster of Awards. The Uncle Abe Award was created in memory of Marty’s Uncle Abe Sarrett who mentored and coached Marty in baseball in Brooklyn after his father passed away when he was a young boy. The Uncle Abe Award goes to a youth baseball coach who is an exceptional role model and coach for young baseball players.
This year’s award goes Gerald Reader. For over 15 years he has been involved in a range of youth baseball in San Francisco from Commissioner of the Junior Giants program that serves over 1,500 players, and Commissioner, Executive Board Member, Umpire Director and coach for the San Francisco Youth Baseball League which served over 4,000 players. He also coaches and manages the SF Bay Sox baseball team for girls, and since 2020 he has been the head baseball coach at Stuart Hall-San Francisco.
The Vince Tringali Football Trophy: Jerry Mixon of Sacred Heart Cathedral
This is awarded to the best high school Football player in San Francisco. Vince Tringali grew up in North Beach and played football at Galileo and USF. Tringali coached football at St. Ignatius High School from 1962 to 1968 and led the Wildcats to a 54-14-1 record including a 19 game winning streak in 1962-63. Tringali and his teams won three AAA Championships, the first WCAL Championship and his 1962 team was selected National Champions. Tringali passed away in 2010 but is still fondly remembered by his former players including NFL Hall of Fame quarterback Dan Fouts.
The 2022 Recipient is junior Jerry Mixon. Mixon led the Fightin’ Irish to a CIF Central Coast Section championship, the state CIF 4A championship and a win in the Bruce Mahoney Game. Jerry was two-way player starring on both sides of the ball and was recognized as the West Catholic Athletic League Utility Player of the Year and also earned All-Metro and All-State honors. Mixon still has another season of football left but is already receiving a lot of recruiting interest. He currently has offers from several schools including Washington, Washington State, Arizona State, Arizona, San Diego State, Nevada, San Jose State, and UNLV.
The Margi Beima Trophy: Natalia Lau of St. Ignatius
This award is being originated in 2022 and is awarded to the best girls’ volleyball player in San Francisco. Margi recently retired as the head volleyball coach at Sacred Heart Cathedral after the 2021-22 season to become the school’s Athletic Director.
The 2022 recipient is Natalie Lau. Lau was a setter and was an All-WCAL First Team selection in 2021 leading the Wildcats to 25-9 record. Natalie is committed to play college volleyball next year for the Cal Golden Bears.
The Kevin Restani Basketball Trophy: King-Njhsanni Wilhite of Archbishop Riordan and Sabrina Ma of St. Ignatius
This is awarded to the male and female basketball players of the year in San Francisco. Kevin Restani starred at Archbishop Riordan (Class of '70), USF and played in the NBA for the Milwaukee Bucks, San Antonio Spurs, Kansas City Kings and Cleveland Cavaliers, and overseas in Italy. After his playing career Restani returned to San Francisco to coach and teach until he passed away in 2010.
The 2022 male recipient is King-Njhsanni Wilhite. Despite being only a junior Wilhite led the Crusaders to their first CCS Open Division title and the semifinals of the state CIF Northern Regional Open Division championship. Wilhite averaged 23.3 ppg and scored a school all-time record 41 points versus Sacred Heart Cathedral. He had 29 points in the CCS championship against Archbishop Mitty-San Jose and 35 in a NorCal Open win over De La Salle-Concord. Wilhite has received All-WCAL and All-State honors, he was the San Francisco Chronicle Metro and San Francisco Player of the Year. He currently holds college scholarship offers from Washington State and San Jose State..
The 2022 female recipient is Sabrina Ma who wins for the second straight year. Sabrina has been a dominant player in San Francisco and the WCAL for the last three seasons earning All WCAL and All-State Honors. She was the San Francisco Chronicle San Francisco Player of the Year. This past season Sabrina averaged 17 points, seven rebounds, and three assists per game. She led the Wildcats to the D1 NorCal finals. Sabrina has committed to play college basketball next season for San Jose State.
The Stephen Negoesco Trophy: Oisin Murphy of St. Ignatius and Sydney Grundland Lanuza of George Washington
This is awarded to the top male and female soccer players San Francisco. Negoesco, who recently passed away, was a long time SFIAC member and coach of the SFIAC Men’s Club Team that won the U.S. Open National Championship in 1976. Negoesco was also the long time head coach and former All-American player at the University of San Francisco where the soccer field is named after him. Negoesco is often hailed as the greatest coach in the history of college soccer and won 544 games and five NCAA Championships. He spent a lifetime as the biggest booster of youth soccer in the Bay Area.
The 2022 male recipient is Oisin Murphy. Oisin was the WCAL Midfielder of the Year. He helped lead the Wildcats to a 12-7-2 record including winning the “City Championship” after sweeping games with Sacred Heart Cathedral,, Riordan and University.
The 2022 female recipient is Sydney Grundland Lanuza. She led the Eagles to the AAA Championship over Lowell that ended a dynasty in which the Cardinals had dominated for several years. Sydney was the AAA Most Valuable Midfielder on an Eagles team that went 15-1-2 on the season with their only loss in the CIF State championship tournament.
The Joe DiMaggio Baseball Trophy: Lucas Kelly of Sacred Heart Cathedral
This is awarded to the baseball player of the year in San Francisco. DiMaggio grew up in the North Beach neighborhood of San Francisco, attended Galileo High School and went on the play professional baseball for the San Francisco Seals and the New York Yankees. With the Yankees “Joltin’ Joe” as he was known, was a three-time MVP, an All-Star in all 13 of his seasons, had a record 56 game hitting streak and was a nine-time World Series Champion.
The 2022 recipient is Lucas Kelly,, a repeat winner. Lucas has made a name for himself in City baseball as a shortstop with a big arm and bigger bat. Last season Lucas led the Irish to a 19-12 record while hitting .432 with 35 runs scored, 31 RBI and eight home runs as SHC won the “2021 City Championship” with wins over Riordan, St. Ignatius and University. Kelly has committed to play his college baseball at Texas A&M and is projected to be a high MLB draft pick.
The Dante Benedetti Coaching Trophy: Charley Johnson of Stuart Hall
This award recognizes lifetime achievement by high school coaches in any sport in San Francisco. Benedetti was born, raised and died in North Beach. In addition to coaching baseball Dante was a long time North Beach restaurateur. Benedetti attended Galileo, Commerce and St. Ignatius before going on to play baseball and football at USF. Dante was the head baseball coach at USF from 1962 to 1980 and won 373 games. The USF baseball diamond is named after Benedetti.
The 2022 recipient is Charley Johnson. Charley is the only coach in the history of the Stuart Hall High basketball program. For the last 22 years he has led one of the best programs in the City winning multiple league championships and the North Coast Section Division 5 titles in 2015 and 2020. This past season Johnson led the Knights to the CIF Division V State Championship and was the Cal-Hi Sports D5 State Coach of the Year.
The Steve Mariucci Trophy: Joey Curtin of Riordan and Daniel Tesfai of Lick-Wilmerding
This award recognizes the high school Coach of the Year in San Francisco in any sport. Steve Mariucci is a long-time member of the SFIAC and was head coach of the San Francisco 49ers from 1997-2002 during which the 49ers went 57-39 and won the NFC West in 1997 and 2002. Mariucci was the head coach at Cal in 1996 and led the Golden Bears to the Aloha Bowl. Mariucci was also the head coach of the Detroit Lions from 2003-2005 and currently the host of NFL Gameday for the NFL Network.
The 2022 boys’ coach recipient is Joey Curtin of Riordan. In Curtin’s five years as the head basketball coach, the Crusaders have had a lot of success under his leadership. They won a D3 CCS Championship in 2018, and a share of the WCAL Championship in 2020. They were on their way to a D1 NorCal title game in 2020 when the shutdown intervened. In 2021 the Crusaders fell in the CCS Open Championship Game. In spite of past success going into this season expectations were lowered with the loss of three D1 players, but Curtin rallied the Crusaders to their best season in years. They won the CCS Open Division title and beat De La Salle-Concord in a first round of the state CIF Open NorCals before falling in the semifinals.
The 2022 girls’ coach recipient is Daniel Tesfai of Lick-Wilmerding. The Tigers girls’ basketball team won the Bay Counties League – West Championship in 2022 marking an incredible run of success the SFIAC is recognizing. In the last four years under Tesfai’s leadership the Tigers won four consecutive league championships and 36 consecutive league games. Overall the Tigers went 85-17 the last four years.
2022 SFIAC Team of the Year – The 2022 Team of the Year is the Balboa football team. The Buccaneers won their first AAA Championship since 1984 after beating Lincoln 21-0. From there Balboa went on to win the state CIF 7-A Bowl Game championship with a 43-0 victory over Taft-Woodland Hills. The Buccaneers were 9-4 overall and 7-1 in the AAA after avenging a 7-0 regular season loss to Lincoln on Turkey Day..
Additional SFIAC Athletes and Scholar Athletes of the Year:
Ben Norori of Balboa Football – A senior strong safety on defense and versatile quarterback and running back on offense. Norori led Balboa to an AAA and 7-A State Championship.
Hunter Chan of Lowell Basketball – Hunter led the Cardinals to the AAA Championship and was AAA Player of the Year
The Aquino Brothers of Lincoln Basketball – Jordan, Justin and Jeremyah led the Mustangs to the AAA Championship and 22-4 record.
Joey Kennedy, Grant Lyon, Jackson Boake and Vinny Brugioni of University Basketball – This group led the Red Devils to a BCL West and an NCS D4 Championship.
Brandon Lum and Jackson Jung of Stuart Hall Basketball – this duo led the Knights to the D5 State Championship, combining for 42 points in the finals. Brandon was the Cal-Hi Sports D5 Player of the Year and Jackson set a record for making five three-pointers in the state title game..
St. Ignatius Boys Basketball Fab 5 – Ryan Conroy, Sean Quannico, Rory Keneally, GC Toledo-Rivera and John Squire led the Wildcats to their best season since 1984 after they advanced to the D1 NorCal title game.
St. Ignatius Girls Basketball Fab 5 – Sabrina Ma, Claire Untalan, Soon Ja Elzey, Mali Ennis and Jacqueline Acosta led the Wildcats to their best season in recent history after they advanced to the D1 NorCal title game
The Banquet the SFIAC hosts traditionally attracts 250-plus people and is a fundraiser for High School Sports in San Francisco with ticket sales and donations to the event going to the SFIAC Foundation (501c3 non-profit) which after paying the event expenses contributes the net proceeds to organizations that support high school sports in San Francisco. In past years the SFIAC typically raised over $5,000. The primary beneficiary has been the Academic Athletic Association (AAA) which was founded in 1912 and runs the public school leagues in San Francisco. The funds are expected to primarily go to purchase new uniforms and equipment. A portion of the net proceeds will also be donated to Dante's Boys Foundation which supports high school baseball in the memory of Dante Benedetti. Other charities that support San Francisco high school sports may be considered too.
San Francisco Italian Athletic Club and SFIAC Foundation: The SFIAC is one of the most respected Italian Clubs in the country with a beautiful clubhouse on Washington Square in the North Beach neighborhood of San Francisco. SFIAC celebrated its 100th anniversary in 2017-18. You can find more information at www.sfiac.org. You can find more information on the SFIACF at www.sfiacfoundation.com
The SFIAC has assembled a great roster of sponsors most of which are repeat sponsors. If you are interested in being a sponsor please contact Randy Bessolo at firstname.lastname@example.org
The 2022 sponsors include:
San Francisco Giants
Tri Counties Bank
Golden State Orthopedics and Spine
Jane R. Poppelreiter
Pinotti & Associates, Inc.
Capo Isetta Wines
Bay City Warriors