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on Nov 24, 2008
The news this past weekend that former coach, teacher, mentor and friend Everett Skip Mohatt had passed was sad and I am certain the thoughts and prayers of every single student, player and friend of Skip's send their best wishes and prayers.
That said, I am equally as certain that each one of the people who were blessed to have had Skip cross their paths are also filled with smiles and memories and endless gratitude for what he brought to the table.
For his students and in particular those whom comprised his "We The People" teams, it was a sense of empowerment and faith in the ability to reach for the stars and believe you'd come home with more than moon rocks. For his players, I believe it was that from day one, Skip believed you had the ability and internal strength to succeed, to be champions and how that belief translated to each of us. And to his friends, of which I have been proud to consider myself for more than 30 years now, it was the warmth of that friendship that transcended time. Even on the telephone, at the near end of a 15 year span, he would still toss you a sarcastic quip that made you feel at home.
At the time I heard of Skip's accident, we had not talked in more than 5 years. But I thought of him often; my only true regret here being that I failed to let him know how much of an impact he had on my life, more than 30 years after I walked off the hardwood for the final time.
They say the measure of a man is not in how much he loves, but by how much he is loved by others. By that metric, Skip was a giant.
He was some of God's very best work and as with all good things, will never truly be gone because in a very real way, some measure of the man will remain with us all.
The thoughts and prayers of family, friends, former players and students are with Joyce, Kim, Steve, Leslee, Mary, Kent, Casey and a their families at this time. We mourn with you today. Tomorrow, we will proudly share the smiles of gratitude and joy that comes from having Skip be a part of our lives.
Amador Valley High School
Class of 1978
Skip changed my life, and I am forever grateful. It's as simple as that. The lessons--academic and life--that I learned from him both inside and outside the classroom continue to shape who I am today. I will miss him dearly, but am comforted to know that his inspiration and counsel will live on through me and the 1000s of other students that Skip so profoundly influenced. My thoughts, prayers, and condolences are with Joyce and the rest of Skip's family, and his many, many friends.
We received a E-mail this afternoon from Mr. Johnson informing us that a memorial is scheduled to honor and celebrate the life of Mr. Mohatt for Sunday, December 7, 2008 at 1:00 PM in the Skip Mohatt Gymnasium at Amador Valley High School.
I had Mr. Mohatt for Civics and as my J.V. basketball coach. Everyone knows what a great basketball coach he was and he taught me a lot. However, the most profound thing he ever said to me was in Civics class. I had done an assignment half ass and he announced to the class, "when you come back from college next summer, Allen will be delivering pizzas." This may seem like a harsh thing to say to a 17 year old kid, but having him as a basketball coach I know this about Mr. Mohatt. If he wasn't talking to you, it meant he didn't care.
To this day, I have never delivered one pizza.
Thanks Mr. Mohatt.
I am thankful to Coach Mohatt as I remember the first day of my freshman year walking into his classroom to ask him to be student manager of his JV team. Under his coaching leadership for two years he prepared me with mental toughness and discipline. As I write this, I can hear his voice yelling "FONG..."
Thank you Coach for having an impact on my life.
I had Mr. Mohatt in 95-96 and was not the best student at the time. Teenage angst as most kids have. Mr. Mohatt changed that. I found his dry sense of humour awesome and I found him fascinating. I learned a lot from him and not just in the education sense. He called me into his classroom at lunch one day to hand me a paper that I had written and he had given me an 'A' on. I was really proud of myself because everyone said how hard he was to impress and get an 'A" from. I think he was proud of me too. He even called my parents to say that he knew I was going through some things, but that I was a good kid and I would be fine. I got a 3.8 that year! In the past few years I got to see Mr. Mohatt when he stayed at the hotel I managed while visiting family at least once a year in Ptown. He knew exactly who I was and I loved him being there. He said he knew that I would turn out good and land in a good career. Mr. Mohatt was a great person and a great influence in my life.
Oh my what an amazing teacher he was, took us all out of our comfort zone and really taught us with tough love. He scared me to death first day of class, but I learned to love his method of teaching and admire his tenacity. I have never forgotten him. Class of '68'
It is so nice to hear that so many people loved him. He truly couldn't have lived his life any fuller.
Being apart of him makes me and my family so proud. Our Grandpa is walking pain-free, satisfied, finally.
Skip's legacy of excellence on the athletic field and in the classroom IS truly astounding. He took me on as a new teacher and taught me much about my role and my place in education. Despite living so far away after he retired, he still managed to come and work with my Comp Civics students or watch them compete each year. He was an instant hit with each of them. It always amazed me how quickly his students and my students fell under his "spell.” He was tough and demanding, but also a VERY GENTLE man. His legacies will not be forgotten, and I am truly fortunate to have had Skip in my life as a friend and a mentor. Under that tough outer shell, was a man who cared deeply about his students, friends, and family. Thank you, Skip, for all you have done for me. You have made me a better person…
I knew Skip in High School in Sonora California. Our best year was
our Senior Year. You never knew what he was going to say or do but
we loved him and his humor. This was 1954 and the comments made by
others does him justice. He never let anything get him down in High
School and had many friends. He was the Class President and a goofy
one at that. I will miss him even though I only got to see him at
North Bend, Nebraska
I played basketball at Ohlone College, his first and second year there. I have not seen Skip for years but I often think back to that time and his impact on me that remains today. There was no one tougher than him. When he criticized you, you listened,learned and tried to change. If you did this he would come back with high praise, and it meant a lot because you knew he meant it. He gave me chance after chance when I was there and he never gave up on me. I am very grateful that I met him and I will never forget him. My prayers are with him and his family.
I was the worst civics student in all history & he was the toughest civics teacher in all history. As far as Calif* civics education was "different" from what the rest of the world was taught, I was a Calif* civics dropout & still am, but Skip had 2 nuggets of information I never forgot.
"People become politicians for 1 reason only: power." It's not about change, rescuing the economy, doing good, or making money. It's about power & only power.
The other nugget was "Most of your teachers are now women. In college, most of your professors will be men." & that was the beginning of the end of my fantasies about egalitarian marriage.
Would have figured out the realities of politics, gender roles, the human condition eventually, but Skip was where it began.
Thank you all for your wonderful memories of my Dad and how he influenced you. I always knew he was an amazing coach and I had the gift to not only be his daughter but also one of his players, I too became the player I was because of his toughness, and love all wrapped up together. But I never got the chance to be taught by him in the classroom because frankly, he was too hard, I always chose the easiest teachers! It is so meaningful to read how he made an impact in your lives, it really helps during this time. His Legacy he left behind in our lives and YOURS! Keep reaching for the stars, ( I can just see that grin/smirk on his face now) . Thanks for all your prayers. on behalf of myself, my husband Brian and our basketball team of 5 . who will miss their Grandpa and thank you for all these memories of him! blessings, Kaycie
Class of 1974 & 1977 - We (Kelly McNamara, Jennie (Gualandri) McNamara & Family) in North Carolina would like to say:
"Mrs. Mohatt, Kim, Leslee, Steve and family,
It was with a great sense of loss when we heard of Skip Mohatt's death. We wanted to let you know that you have our greatest sympathy, and our hearts are truly saddened.
Skip was more than just a wonderful person; he was always so kind and considerate to us that we always welcomed seeing him at every opportunity. And, we know that his passing will not only leave a void in our lives, but in the hearts of all those who knew him.
Skip will always remain within our hearts, and we have included him and you in our daily prayers. May God give you strength."
I played basketball for Skip from 1971-1975. He had a profound influence on my life. Although the Viet Nam draft ended a couple of years before we were of age, he was our drill master. He made men of boys. He taught us that you could not be the best until you competed against the best. And if you didn't want to be the best, there was no place for you on his team.
We would travel to inner city gyms to play the best players in the area. We were rarely the more talented team. But we knew that if we played our game that we had a good chance to win, especially against the run and gun teams from the city. Castelmont, O'Dowd, Fremont, McClymonds, Hayward, Lincoln and Washington of SF, we beat them all.
He always was testing us. Trying to get the best out of us. Compliments came sparingly. Criticisms...well, those came without any sugar coating. Dang it! Move your feet! Don't grab! Block out! Do it again! We would do it again until it was right...and then we would do it until it was perfect. But we always knew why he did what he did and said what he said. It was to make us better.
Here are the lessons he taught us: Teamwork beats individualism. Nothing replaces hardwork. Be accountable for what you do and what you say. You represent your school and your family-show some class. Always compete against the best because you will never get better against inferior competition. Set a goal and do everything you can to achieve it. Never, NEVER quit.
Sound like good lessons for life?
Skip had a twinkle in his eye that I will always remember. I used to live for that because I knew then that he was satisfied. There was no feeling like it...to win a game and have him smile at us with that gleam. We knew all the hard work had paid off.
While I am saddened by his passing, I know that his spirit and his drive live on through his students and his players. We are better citizens, better employees, better neighbors and better parents because of the things he taught us.
As I am not great writer I will steal from one; "No great man ever complains of want of opportunity"(R.W. Emerson). "Coach" was truly a great man. I never heard him complain about what came to be seen as trivial physical limitations. They were trivial because he never cited them. I have lived my life to some degree, fearing disappointing those who taught me in my youth. Obviously my bad decisions made me cold for fear of how they would affect my parents. It however, was not uncommon to think to myself, "glad coach wasn't here to see that one."
Though I was molded and shaped by my parents Mr. Mohatt(still can't call him Skip) gets an assist. I have not seen him since 1993 at the Oakland Coliseum but have often bragged about him. This a practice I plan on continuing. My heart is broken.
Amador Valley Don
Class of 77
Mr. Mohatt was my teacher in 1994. I am now a teacher, and hope that I live up to the outstanding model that he set. I will always remember him for taking the time to console me one day when I broke up with my boyfriend one month before prom. He gave that look with a twinkle in his eye and said, "Don't worry, Laura, guys are like buses, another one comes around every ten minutes or so." I busted up laughing, and never forgot it. Mr. Mohatt was one of the most memorable teachers I ever had, and he will be greatly missed. Sending my love and prayers to his family and friends at this time.
Laura (Griffith) Cain
If I was able to attend Skip Mohatt’s memorial service in the Amador Valley High School gymnasium on Sunday, and if I was asked to speak, this what I would say (if I wasn’t working in another state that day)…
Welcome, everyone, to “Skip Mohatt Gymnasium.” Although that name for this building is accurate (it’s what Amador students named this gym many years ago) the name is not quite correct.
You are actually sitting in “Skip Mohatt’s largest classroom.”
Oh, he also had classrooms on campus where he taught Social Studies, but this spot was where he taught his athletic students the most important subject he was born to teach. That classroom subject was “Life.”
Teaching “Life” was more than just teaching about winning, it was about teaching boys and girls that they CAN develop the attitude, the skills, and the desire to achieve.
Most people regard Coach Mohatt as a very successful basketball coach, believing Coach’s history of winning 10 East Bay Athletic League basketball championships in 13 years was the best way to measure his success. When I was younger I used that same measure of success, but I don’t any longer.
The measures I use are:
“Imagination” – Coach had an incredible imagination. He could see the future as he imagined it could be, not the way it was. The most glaring example: he imagined he could date the prettiest girl in his home town of Sonora, and he even dreamed that she would marry him. Talk about a dreamer! Then he made his dream into reality.
In 1968, his first season as Amador’s varsity basketball coach, Coach had the audacity to imagine he could coach his basketball team to improve so much it could win its first outright EBAL basketball championship. It was not a dream he kept a secret – he tried to plant the dream into all of his players. The players who did not take hold of the dream and run with it were not on the team for long.
I still have a mimeographed copy of the Players’ Manual that Coach prepared for us at the start of each season. It read something like “If you do not believe you can be a member of this team and contribute everything you have, every day, to be a better player, then you are wasting your time and you should waste your time doing something else.” Those are not his exact words, but that’s how I remember the essence of his dream. That’s how he expected us to be a part of achieving the goal of becoming the best players we could become.
For Coach’s first year we had great, talented players, but we did not have great dreamers. The second year we had great athletes, not great basketball players - but we kept working to improve in every practice and every game. And it worked. I think we players were surprised at our first championship in 1970. Coach may have been a little surprised - if he was, he would never let us know! I suspect he imagined the championship in his dreams every night.
“Preparation” – Coach always held a clipboard in practice, but for a long time I did not know what was on it. When I finally looked at the papers on the clipboard one day, I saw a detailed, multi-page schedule for each practice. Every five-minute interval was planned for each two-hour practice, and Coach had a written schedule for every day of the season! I was amazed at the amount of preparation he put into practices. I thought he had us perform a drill or a play based on whatever came into his mind during each practice!
Coach was always prepared, even when I thought he wouldn’t be. Coach used to require we show him our report cards, and he always told us we needed to bring this grade up, or that grade up. The one time I had a report card with all “A” grades, I walked up to Coach and handed him my only perfect report card. He looked at the card, thrust the card back at me, and told me to “work on my citizenship” and turned and walked away from me. In Coach’s world, there was always an opportunity to improve.
“Intensity” – does anyone who watched Coach while he was coaching one of his basketball teams ever question whether he was intense? Of course he was! But his naturally booming voice and his high-flying white towel were his tools for communicating to us players that we could play better, and should play better immediately (Coach also used the same methods to try to help develop referees to their full potential, but that’s another story!).
We players learned that being intense was okay, as long as we controlled our intensity and channeled it towards our mutual goal. Coach yelling at us in practice was how he communicated – it was normal. Those players who took the yelling personally did not stay with the team very long. Coach did not yell at us to demean us, he yelled at us to get his point across, to coach us to correct our mistakes and perform better on the court. We learned to differentiate when Coach was coaching us, from the times when he was upset at us. Newspaper sportswriters who were intimidated by Coach because of the way he loudly coached from the bench eventually understood his persona and were less intimidated. They just never knew him like his players knew him.
Coach was not always intense. He was kind and understanding when he needed to be. I remember to this day when I committed three errors at a crucial point in a game because I was thinking more about the girl I was dating than the game I was playing. After the game Coach was standing in our locker room near the exit as I was about to leave. I walked up to Coach, looked at him and told him, “I know, Coach, I know.” He just looked me in the eye and did not say a word. No booming voice. No flying white towel. Just a silent understanding between the two of us that there was nothing he needed to say about the errors I had made. He knew I was committing to him I would not make them again.
Imagination. Preparation. Intensity. The hallmarks of Coach’s teachings in the classroom of "Life.".
So what else is there to say about the man I have always
called “Coach”? The only thing I can say is: I hope he realized before he passed away just how many lives he impacted in this very large classroom we call “Skip Mohatt Gymnasium.” And on the softball field where he coached. And in the Washington D.C. civics competition rooms where he took his academic teams. And in the family room of his home.
I graduated in the class of 1975 from Amador High. Mr Mohatt was the teacher and leader for our executive council group. He was, without a doubt, the most influential teacher of my academic career. He taught me to never shrink from a challenging, booming voiced man who was critical and had the highest of expectations. He was tough, and real and an inspiration to me to become a leader. He made a difference in my life, and continues to do so today. I was honored to be able to attend the service on sunday at Amador, see some classmates, former teachers, and give my condolences to Joyce and the family. They are shining examples of Mr Mohatt's heart, and the love in the gym yesterday was amazing. Julia did a great job, Ed and Kim should be proud, as I know Mr Mohatt is of each of them.
I hope that I will always be able to remember that twinkle in his eye, it was worth working for. He was a mentor to me, and I am forever grateful and thankful. It was a fitting tribute to a great man.
Skippy was someone I looked up to growing up... We would spend summers and holidays at Grandma Silva's home on Shaws Flat and I would always look forward to Skip and Joyce coming up with their family... Skip you will truly be missed and it is an honor to be related to you and your wonderful family... Joyce your are such a saint for all that you do... Know that I Love You and your family... People.. Please read Skippy's books.. they are truly a gift from Skippy to all of us.. Sincerely... Tim Maloney
I am convinced that Mr. Mohatt, in an indirect way, had and will continue to have a very positive effect in my son’s life, whom he has never met. For that I am incredibly grateful.
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