As the newest sportswriter in town in 1968, I was assigned to cover the newest school, Dos Pueblos High, two years after it opened its doors. The Chargers football team had a future star, a speedy wingback by the name of Kim Wilson, but his best playing was with a harmonica. He later became the lead performer with The Fabulous Thunderbirds blues band. On the gridiron, he and the Chargers suffered the “new kid on the block blues.” They were abused by stronger, more experienced teams.
Yet even then, the Chargers evinced a certain class, belying the school’s ’60s stereotype as “Hippie High.” Dick Prigge, DP’s first athletics director and head football coach, set the tone. The school colors, navy blue and gold, were chosen by him. He hired a coaching staff that infused the students with discipline and dedication. In just its fifth year, Dos Pueblos won the 1971 CIF triple-A basketball championship. A year later, the Chargers captured their first league championship in football.
By then, Prigge had relinquished his coaching duties. The Santa Barbara native’s vision went beyond the playing field. He was vice principal, working with DP’s founding principal, Henry “Denny” Baylor, to put the school on a strong foundation. Prigge became principal himself in 1978. Two years before he retired in 1990, Dos Pueblos was recognized as a California Distinguished School.
Past and present members of the Charger family are looking back with gratitude at Prigge’s service. He died on December 26, 2010. There will be a memorial service on Saturday, January 8, at 10:30 a.m. at All Saints-by-the-Sea.
“Dick was the right guy at the right time,” said Steve Meister, who joined the DP administration in 1970. “He solidified what Denny Baylor got started. He was a hard-working, focused guy. He had a strong moral compass and held everybody accountable.”
During his retirement, Prigge would annually take his old coaching staffs out to dinner. “He believed extra-curricular activities were important in shaping the school and connecting with the community,” said Dick Mires, a football coach who succeeded Prigge as athletics director. “He was a very steady guy. In all aspects of the school, you had to do what you were supposed to do.”
Besides his immediate family, Dick Prigge is survived by a thriving 45-year-old school that Goleta is proud to call its own.
VOICE OF THE GROUCHO: Don Ford, color commentator on UCSB basketball broadcasts, blistered the Gauchos over their shabby effort against Fresno Pacific on New Year’s Eve. Coach Bob Williams should consider playing Ford’s unvarnished halftime critiques on the radio in the locker room. The Gauchos, who have sputtered since their upset victory at UNLV in mid-December, pulled out an overtime victory over Fresno Pacific only because Jordan Weiner scooped teammate Orlando Johnson’s air-ball into the basket as regulation time ran out. Ford, who played in the NBA (Lakers and Cavaliers) after he set a single-season scoring record at UCSB in 1975, groused that the Gauchos should have long since buried the Sunbirds. While the Gaucho men are on the road against UC Davis and Pacific this week, Ford will be working the women’s home games on 990 AM.
GAMES OF THE WEEK: Today (Thu., Jan. 6) there are three prime-time attractions. The boys soccer teams of Santa Barbara High School and Dos Pueblos, which drew a crowd of 8,000 to UCSB’s Harder Stadium when they clashed in the 2010 CIF final, will play a league game at 6 p.m. at SBCC’s La Playa Stadium. Former Santa Barbara star Holly (Ford) Emerson will have her jersey retired when the Dons host San Marcos in a girls basketball game at 7 p.m. (Yes, Holly is the sister of Don Ford.) SBHS senior forward Tessa Emerson, Holly’s daughter, has signed a scholarship offer from Pepperdine. Also at 7 p.m., UCSB’s women have a chance to get a jump on UC Davis, the preseason favorite to win the Big West basketball title, when the Gauchos—winners of six of their last seven games—host the Aggies at the Thunderdome. … The Gaucho men’s volleyball team will face Cal State Northridge Friday, January 7, at 10 a.m. to launch the two-day UCSB Invitational.
GEEZER-BALL II: One of the sports highlights of 2010 was the Alumni Big Game between former Santa Barbara High and San Marcos footballers. Fans packed Peabody Stadium to watch the spirited rivals play to a 10-10 tie. That outcome has spawned a sequel, titled “Unfinished Business,” that will be played at San Marcos on May 28.