Friday, April 21, 2017

More on the San Francisco Italian Athletic Club (SFIAC) First Annual High School Awards Banquet

1st SFIAC San Francisco High School Awards Banquet 

On May 8th at 6:00 PM, the San Francisco Italian Athletic Club (SFIAC) will host the 1st Annual San Francisco High School Awards Banquet in its North Beach clubhouse located on Washington Square at 1630 Stockton Street. The SFIAC is celebrating its 100th Anniversary in 2017-18 and is one of the oldest Italian Athletic Clubs in the Country. The awards program is modeled after the Downtown Athletic Club's Heisman Trophy but will recognize 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 a fundraiser that will support high school sports in the City.  The Awards in the 1st Annual Banquet will include the following:

SFIAC Football Trophy - awarded to the best High School Football player in the City of San Francisco.

The 2016-17 recipient is Ronald Phelps of Lincoln High School.  Ronald led the Lincoln Mustangs to AAA's Turkey Bowl Championship in 2016.  Ronald is a two-way player who was primarily a Guard on Offense and Nose Tackle on Defense but also was a short yardage Running Back.  Ronald was the AAA Offensive Lineman of the Year  in both 2016 and 2015 and was Defensive Player of the Year in 2016.  He was the SF Chronicle's All-Metro San Francisco Player of the Year in 2016.  Ronald's play on both sides of the ball will make him be remembered as on of the greatest all-time football athletes in the AAA.

The Kevin Restani  Basketball Trophy - awarded to the best male and female High School basketball players in the City of San Francisco.  Kevin Restani starred at Archbishop Riordan High School (Class of '70), USF and played in the NBA (Bucks, Spurs, Kings and Cavaliers) and overseas in Italy.  After his playing career Kevin returned to San Francisco to coach and teach until he passed away in 2010.

The 2016-17 Male recipient is Niamey Harris of Mission High School.  Niamey was the two time  Player of the Year  in AAA in Basketball and led the Mission Bears to its 3rd AAA Championship in the last 4 years.  Niamey led Mission to a CIF Division 3 NorCal Championship, the first for a AAA team since 1982.  Best of all Mission won the D3 State Championship the first in history by a San Francisco public school.  Niamey also was a two AAA Player of the Year in Football and will always be considered one of the greatest high school athletes of all-time in San Francisco.

The 2016-17 Female recipient is IImar'I Thomas of Sacred Heart Cathedral Prep.  Iimar'I was the WCAL Player of the Year in both 2016 and  2017.  As a junior, IImar'I led the SHCP Fighting Irish to a Division 3 State Championship in 2016 and was CalHiSports All-State.  IImar'I is also a McDonald's All-American nominee. Remarkably IImar'I is only 16 years old and will play basketball next year at the University of Cincinnati.

The Stephen Negoesco Trophy - awarded to the best male and female High School soccer players in the City of San Francisco. Stephen Negoesco is a long time SFIAC member and coach of the SFIAC Mens Club Team that won the U.S. Open National Championship in 1976. Negoesco was also the long time Soccer 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 US collegiate soccer winning 544 games and five NCAA Championships. He has spent a lifetime as the biggest booster of youth soccer in the Bay Area.

The 2016-17 Male recipient is Dominic Galletti of St. Ignatius. Dominic was WCAL Forward of the Year and first team All-WCAL for the second year in a row after getting second team recognition as a Sophomore. Most significantly  Dominic served as Team Captain and led St. Ignatius to the WCAL and CCS Championships in 2017 with 16 goals and 7 assists.  He was named San Jose Earthquakes Player of the Week after leading St. Ignatius to the CCS Championship. Dominic will play soccer next year at Northeastern University.

The 2016-17 Female recipient is Lizzy Wagner of St. Ignatius. Lizzy was the Co-Offensive Player of the Year in the WCAL. Lizzy is a 4 year Varsity player and 4 time All-WCAL selection.  Lizzy also played for Cal North's ODP team for three years. Lizzy will play Lacrosse in college next year at USC.

The Joe DiMaggio Baseball Trophy - awarded to the best High School Baseball player in the City of San Francisco. Joe 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 Joe 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 2016-17 recipient is to be determined

The Dante Benedetti Coaching Trophy - recognizes lifetime achievement by High School Coaches in any sport in the City of San Francisco. Dante Benedetti was born, raised and died in North Beach. In addition to coaching baseball, Dante was a long time North Beach restaurateur. Dante attended Galileo, Commerce and St. Ignatius High Schools 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 Dante.

The 2016-17 recipients include:

Ronald Isola, Archbishop Riordan, Basketball, Baseball and Athletic Director - Ron an alumni of Riordan '61 spent a lifetimes teaching and coaching at Riordan.  Ron was the Basketball Coach from 1979-94 during which Riordan was the most dominant team in the history of WCAL and the City.  During this stretch Riordan was 368-110, won 11 WCAL titles, had a 44 game WCAL win streak, did not lose home game from  1983-89 and won the D1 NorCal Championship in 1990.  Ron was also the Varsity Baseball coach from 1995-2010 and served as Athletic Director until his retirement in 2012.  In 2008 the California Coaches Association named Ron the Athletic Director of the Year.

John Donohue, Lowell High School, Baseball - John an Alum of St. Ignatius '69 and USF is one of the winningest baseball coaches in the State of California with a lifetime record of 735-390-4 in his 33 years at Lowell HS.  Under John Lowell won 14 AAA Championships.  In 2015 John was named the Cal-Hi Sports State Coach of the Year.  In 2013 John was named National Coach of the Year by the American Baseball Association.

The Stephen Mariucci Trophy - recognizes the High School Coach of the Year in the City of San Francisco in any sport. Stephen Mariucci is a long time member of the SFIAC and was Head Coach of the San Francisco 49ers from 1997 to 2002 during which the 49ers went 57 and 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 to 2005 and currently the host of NFL Gameday for the NFL Network.

The 2017 recipient is Head Basketball Coach Arnold Zeleya of Mission HS.  Arnold led the Mission Bears to a 35-1 record, a AAA Championship and the CIF D3 State Championship, which was the first State Championship in the history of San Francisco public schools in basketball.  Arnold is an Alum of Sacred Heart '87 and in his 9 years as head coach of Mission the Bears have won 6 AAA Championships and gone 207-88.


The event is a fundraiser for High School Sports in San Francisco.  The tickets and donations to the event will go to the SFIAC Foundation (401c3 non-profit) which after paying the event expenses will contribute the net proceeds to organizations that support high school sports in San Francisco.  The primary beneficiary will be 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.


Tickets cost $50 for high school families, $65 for SFIAC members and $80 for the generous public.  The price of admission will cover a spaghetti dinner with wine.  A portion of the ticket price will be tax deductible. Tickets can be purchased: via phone 415 781 0166; on-line at; or by writing a check to SFIAC Foundation and mailing it to Attn Sports Banquet, 1630 Stockton Street, San Francisco, CA 94133.


San Francisco Italian Athletic Club - one of the oldest and most respected Italian Clubs in the country with a beautiful clubhouse on Washington Square in the North Beach Neighborhood of San Francisco. SFIAC is celebrating its 100th anniversary in 2017-18.  You can find more information at

We are thrilled to have the San Francisco Giants as our lead sponsor and a member of our team. The Giants are great supporter of youth sports in San Francisco community and three time World Champions since they moved to San Francisco in 1958.

Original Joe's - Original Joe's since 1937 has been one of the best Italian-American restaurants in San Francisco.  Currently with two locations including one in North Beach at 601 Union Street, half a block from the SFIAC. You can find more information at

Toast Eatery - One of the best breakfast and lunch spots in San Francisco, Toast Eatery has four locations in the City: 160 W. Portal; 1748 Church; 3991 24th Street; and 1601 Polk Street.  More information at

Pinotti and Associates - Donated the DiMaggio Trophy.  More info at
Lisa Marie Michelis - SFIAC Event Coordinator donated the Restani Trophy

For more information please contact Randy Bessolo at 415 418 4568 or

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