Remembering former Monterey Peninsula College football coach Chris Pappas

Chris Pappas (Monterey Peninsula College)
Chris Pappas (Monterey Peninsula College)

By Al Branco
Executive Director of the CCCFCA


Link to story by KSBW-TV

With 50+ years of active service and achievement, Chris Pappas has devoted his working life to California Community College Athletics and Physical Education.

Chris played football under legendary coach, Bob Bronzan, and graduated from San Jose State in 1957. While at San Jose State, he was a classmate with great coaches, such as Bill Walsh, Dick Vermeil, and Claude Gilbert, who remained life-long friends. Bill Walsh, a former coach of the 49ers said "he's (Chris) probably as serious a student of the game of football as anyone I've ever known. He's as fine a coach and as fine a person as I've ever known."

Chris began his coaching career at Willow Glen High School (1957-1959) as an assistant football coach with a win streak of 42 games in 1958, a state record at the time, and as a head swimming coach, winning the 1959 championship.  From 1959 to 1963, he was a physical education teacher and head football and baseball coach at San Jose High School with a football record of 29-6-1.

In 1963, Chris was hired as an assistant football coach and head baseball coach at Monterey Peninsula College (MPC). He then spent the next 24 years as Luke Phillips' assistant for the highly successful Lobos. In 1986, Chris took over as head football coach where he stayed for 10 seasons. He was recognized as Coach of the Year in Football and Baseball in his conference. He also served as MPC's athletic director for 26 years (1968-1990 and 1992-1996) and was instrumental in starting the women's athletic teams at MPC prior to Title IX legislation, leading MPC to be one of the first colleges in the state to field women's teams. He retired from MPC in 1996, but this did not end his service to State organizations and the CCCAA.

Chris became well-known statewide for his work in adapted physical education; in 1977 he established the Adapted Physical Program (one of the first five in the state) and in 1986 he conducted a study and published "A Study of Adapted Physical Education Programs in Community Colleges of California." His other accomplishments include receiving the Allen Griffin Award for Excellence in Teaching by the Monterey County Foundation and MPC's outstanding educator (1987), California Community Colleges Football Association Hall of Fame recognition (1999),  California Community College Athletic Directors Association Hall of Fame recognition (2000) and the California Community College Hall of Fame recognition (2014).

Over his career Chris coached many major college and NFL players including those that have played in nine Super Bowls. From 1996 to 1998, Chris was a charter member of the conferencing committee for northern California's 35 football teams. He helped create the Northern California Football Association, which served as a model for the Southern California Football Association.  From 1998 to March 13, 2014, Chris served as the California Community Football Coaches Association's executive director. Chris served the NCFA/NCFC starting in 1996 in many positions including being the NCFC as Director of Operations. Chris was still a coaching staff member at MPC working with the punters and kickers last season.

Chris has been instrumental in the work of The Living Breath Foundation, a non-profit organization created to help those living with the genetic disease Cystic Fibrosis. For the last decade, the Living Breath Foundation has sponsored a bowl game in the NCFC American Division providing a wonderful experience for community college athletes while promoting this worthy cause. Married to Peggy for 69 years and living in Monterey, they have two daughters, four sons, and numerous Grand and Great-Grand Children. 

Chris was the ultimate professional.....decisions are first based on what is best for the student-athlete, and then we move forward from there.  He will truly be missed.