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August 12, 2009 > Thomas Neal Crocker - "Coach Crocker"

Thomas Neal Crocker - "Coach Crocker"

June 1, 1938 - July 29, 2009

Newark, California

Tom was born the second child of Ardell Brede and Neal Acker Crocker on June 1, 1938 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. His family, older brother Robert and younger sister Bettie moved many times during World War II, from Alabama to Connecticut, and to Minnesota. He graduated from Edina Morningside Junior Senior High School, Edina, Minnesota, in 1956. In 1957, he joined the Army, taking his basic training at Ft. Leonard Wood, Mo., and was attached to the reserve unit in Minneapolis.

California called him and he joined his father in Los Altos where he attended Foothill Junior College. He was an active member of the Veteran's Club as well as the school's swimming team. To help pay for his studies, he worked for the Palo Alto Recreation Department.

In 1961, he married his high school sweetheart, Janet Christianson. They moved to Daly City while he finished his studies at San Francisco State University. In addition to working on his teaching credential in Physical Education and Social Studies, he worked as manager of the football and wrestling teams under the mentorship of Victor Rowan. Later he earned his MA in Physical Education at SFSU. It was Coach Rowan who helped Tom to develop his coaching philosophy. Tom was fortunate to find his calling early and knew that working with children would be his life's work.

While his career defined him, his family sustained him. In 1965, Tom and Jan purchased their home in Newark where they proudly raised their three sons, Richard, Donald and Michael. The family grew as Rick married Kimberly Carman; Mike married Nicole Dever; and three granddaughters - Janna, Lindsey and Hannah - were born. His family was his delight and he always made sure that they knew he loved them dearly.

Coaching was his passion and nothing pleased him more than hearing from past students about their life after high school. It is the business of sports to help a child grow to be an honorable and healthy adult, and he took pride that he was instrumental in that process. Tom's Coaching career involved five league championships, several All Americans, 1985 North Coast Section Swimming Honor Coach and thousands of kids coached in life's lessons.

Tom's first teaching position was at Marina High School in 1964, teaching science, PE and coaching football and wrestling. A year later he moved on to Tennyson High School in Hayward where he remained until his retirement in 1999. During his 33 years at Tennyson he taught a variety of classes including physical education, social studies and math. His years of coaching are:

1965-1971: Tennyson High assistant football coach with Norm Prince;
1965-1985: Tennyson High head swimming/diving coach;
1965-1979: AAU Blue Fins Swim Team head coach;
1972-1979: Tennyson High water polo coach;
1979-1980: Ohlone College assistant water polo coach with Jack Croghan;
1986-2008: Newark Memorial High head swimming coach;
1985-1996: Tennyson High head football coach;
1997-2004: Newark Blue Fins Swim Club coach; and
1997-2008: Newark-Memorial High head water polo coach.

Since Tom touched so many students at Newark Memorial High School and Tennyson High School during his 45 years of teaching and coaching swimming, water polo and football, a public celebration commenced on Friday, August 7, at the Newark Memorial High School All-Events Center.

The family is in the process of setting up a scholarship to commemorate Coach Crocker's life. If you wish to honor Coach Crocker in this manner you contact the Newark Education Foundation. C/O Tom Crocker Scholarship Fund, 6066 Civic Terrace Ave. Suite 8, Newark, CA 94560

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