2013 Recipient: Bob Burt, Cypress (Calif.) High School

AFCA CONTACT: Vince Thompson, Director of Media Relations


Cypress (Calif.) High School head coach Bob Burt has been named the 2013 Power of Influence Award recipient. Burt was nominated by the Southern California Interscholastic Football Coaches Association (SCIFCA) and the California Coaches Association (CCA). Presented jointly by the American Football Coaches Association® and the American Football Coaches Foundation®, the award will be given to Burt at the AFCA Coach of the Year Dinner on Tuesday, January 14, at the 2014 AFCA Convention in Indianapolis, Indiana. 

The Power of Influence award was created as a way for the AFCA and AFCF to honor a deserving high school football coach. Coaches who receive this award are recognized for their impact on their team and players, as well as the legacy they leave with the school and community. This award is not based on wins and losses; however, it is noted that coaches of powerful influence have longevity and success. It is the first AFCA award specifically designed to honor a high school coach. 

“I was really honored. I know everyone says that, but I am truly honored. I’m honored to be recognized by my peers for such a prestigious award. I’m so lucky,” said Burt. “Just being able to work with and for terrific individuals in my career was honor enough.”

Burt began his coaching career, which currently spans more than 50 years, before even graduating from college, coaching high school level football in Orange County in 1961 while still attending Cal State University of Los Angeles. Once he graduated in 1962, Burt worked as an assistant coach at St. Paul (Calif.) High School until 1966, when he got his first head coaching job at Pater Noster (Calif.) High School. In 1969, Burt began coaching at Santiago (Calif.) High School, where he would turn a faltering program into a perennial powerhouse, winning four consecutive league championships from 1971-74. Not only did he turn the program around, but he inspired his students to do great as well. It was at this time that Burt won the first of his seven Coach of the Year awards. Burt has also been awarded with a multitude of other awards, including the California State “Model Coach of the Year” award and the CIF “Champions for Character” award.

“Bob gave me the foundation of principles to help me relate to my players in a special way,” wrote Roger Takahashi, a player for Burt at Santiago who became a coach himself. “I realized the focal point of Bob’s coaching philosophy. It doesn’t center upon victories, it emphasizes relationships.” 

Burt moved to college coaching after his work at Santaigo, beginning at UCLA as in assistant coach in 1975, including stops at Hawaii, Cal State Fullerton and finally, Cal State Northridge, where he was the head coach. He returned to high school, coaching for the Temescal Canyon (Calif.) Titans from 1995 to 2007. Always looking for ways to serve his community beyond the grid iron, Burt heard of a young Titan football fan who had been stricken by brain cancer. Through all of the treatment, Tim Pape maintained his love for the football program headed by Burt. The coach had his team sign a helmet and he and some star players of the program visited Tim in the hospital to present him the trophy. Burt kept in contact with the young football enthusiast and made sure to include him when he could, making Tim the team manager in high school and, using his contacts at Cal Poly SLO, made sure he could continue to manage a team in college.

“To say that coach Burt has had a positive influence on our son’s life would be an understatement,” wrote Kevin Pape, Tim’s father. “This man has a genuine compassion for others.”

Burt faced horrible tragedy in his own life in 1987, when his daughter, Erin, committed suicide. Burt responded to the tragedy with outreach, working with tens of thousands of teens, as well as other organizations and law enforcement, to help prevent future suicides. It was his tireless efforts to help troubled youth that earned him recognition as the 2011 Inland Empire “Hometown Hero Award.” 

Other finalists for this year’s award were: Ott Hurrle, Scecina Memorial High School (Indianapolis, Ind.); Mark Froehling, Farmington High School (Farmington, Minn.); Phil Willard, Chillicothe High School (Chillicothe, Mo.); Jeff Bellar, Norfolk Catholic High School (Norfolk, Neb.); Ron Wingenbach, Bismarck Century High School (Bismarck, N.D.); Arlin Likness, Yankton High School (Yankton, S.D.); Larry Hill, Smithson Valley High School (Spring Branch, Texas); Mark Batton, Magnolia High School (New Martinsville, W.Va.); John Hoch, Lancaster High School (Lancaster, Wisc.). 

Past Power of Influence Award winners include: Larry Dippel, Amarillo (Texas) High School (2002); John McKissick, Summerville (S.C.) High School (2003); Marcus Borden, East Brunswick (N.J.) High School (2004); Ron Stolski, Brainerd (Minn.) High School (2005); Sid Otton, Tumwater (Wash.) High School (2006); Rob Younger, Sweet Home (Ore.) High School (2007); George Smith, St. Thomas Aquinas (Fla.) High School (2008), Jim Drewry, Booneville (Miss.) High School (2009), Brent Steuerwald, Shenendehowa (N.Y.) High School (2010), Noel Dean, Lowell (Mich.) High School (2011), and Andy Lowry, Columbine (Colo.) High School (2012).

“Coach George Smith is not only an influence on young people, but the influence is multiplied many times in the beliefs of the young people he helped mold into amazing human beings. George is an outstanding coach, but more importantly, he is an outstanding gentleman.” —Tina Jones, Principal of St. Thomas Aquinas High School