May 23, 2024

OC Sports Zone: Community First

Coach Altobelli’s tribute was one Pirate family could be proud of; looking back at the week

Orange Coast College players pay tribute to their head coach John Altobelli. (Photo Tim Burt, OC Sports Zone)

It was a day that the Pirate family honored their beloved coach, John Altobelli, his wife Keri and 13-year-old daughter Alyssa. The three were among nine victims in Sunday’s helicopter crash.

Thousands packed Wendell Pickens Field on the OCC campus for a ceremony honoring their beloved coach. Former players, high school coaches and fans filled all the stands and the areas down the lines. There were even people standing outside the stadium.

All the parking spaces in the adjacent lots were taken. OCC officials did not require parking permits for visitors on this special day. Reporters from Southern California television stations, including KCAL-Channel 9, KTLA-Channel 5 and KABC-Channel 7 along with ESPN were on hand.

A media tent down the third base line was set up by OCC officials, who handled the event well and allowed total access for the media.

Sports information director Tony Altobelli, who was the host for the special ceremony, remarked that it was one of the biggest media turnouts for an OCC baseball game he had ever seen and reminded fans the accomplishments of the program, including four state titles under Altobelli. Altobelli, the brother of Coach Altobelli, was strong as he thanked supporters and fondly recalled stories about his brother.

The flag at the baseball stadium was at half mast as a moment of sileince was held for the victims of Sunday’s helicopter crash. Among them were Kobe Bryant and his daughter Gianna.

Altobelli’s sister Sissy Oberlin said the family has not finalized plans for a service yet. Based on Tuesday’s event, it’s going to be a challenge to find a facility large enough to hold all those who want to attend if it is open to the public.

OC Sports Zone has devoted special coverage this week to a special man and coach. Those who knew him have wanted to share their stories with our readers and we believe that Coach Altobelli, a popular, energetic and very positive person, would like those stories told.

Here’s a look back at our stories this week.