Jay Paris: First holiday gift unwrapped with naming of John Carroll Stadium

What better occasion than the holidays to sing for Carroll.

It’s the best time of the year and you spot it on kids’ faces.

Put me down as an adult with a grin, thanks to venue naming rights, which got it right.

Oceanside football’s John Carroll will now coach at Simcox Field at John Carroll Stadium. The words roll off the tongue like cheers for the New Year.

We might go with JCS to save space, but there’s always room to give Carroll his due.

There are few better men than Carroll, 57, leading a football program — prep, college or pro. He’s as beloved in Oceanside as pier-close parking in the summer.

There’s a reason you can’t spell Carroll’s first or last name without an “O”. When carving Oceanside’s impressive Mt. Rushmore, save some rock for the modest Carroll.

“How about O’side!’’  ex-Charger Willie Buchanon said at Sunday’s Chargers game. “Coach Carroll is amazing.’’

Buchanon, once a Pirate standout and always a Carroll booster, knows of what he speaks. Few track the Pirates with Buchanon’s passion or concerning eye. His thumbs are always up when Carroll’s mentioned.

What we don’t know is if Buchanon, a first-round pick out of San Diego State, is applauding Carroll’s impact on or off the field?

Sure there was another San Diego Southern Section title for Oceanside this season, the 13th of Carroll’s 26-season tenure.

And No. 26 still breathes with the Pirates facing visiting Fresno Edison in a Southern California Regional Division I game on Friday.

A win advances undefeated Oceanside to the state final, as it will seek its third championship under Carroll.

With each year it’s clear Carroll has become the North County’s John Wooden, collecting multiple championships and distributing countless life lessons in his understated manner.

That Carroll’s contributions to the city are celebrated by his name gracing his football home is spectacular. A big, juicy red apple to the school board for this keen decision.

Coaches, football coaches in particular, are more than men with whistles. They’re role models to athletes at various levels, a huge responsibility that has nothing to do with the down-and-distance.

That’s why men like Carroll — and men and women coaches across all prep sports — can have such an impact on teenagers.

Sometimes that impact is felt long after the scoreboard shut off.

Ask Carroll what’s important. His answer remains as steadfast as his affection for fundamentals.

“This isn’t about me,’’ he said, “it’s about we.’’

That “we” rallied around Carroll years ago when he battled serious health issues. That outpouring of Oceanside’s love for a man who’s meant so much to their community likely trumped Carroll’s medication.

Carroll rebounded and his beaming smile when around his players — current or former — is evident.

That grin is returned in equal radiance, as those knowing Carroll best love him the most.

Now his legacy will forever shine over a sacred piece of turf. One that’s surrounded by John Carroll Stadium.

Contact Jay Paris at jparis8@aol.com. Follow him on Twitter at jparis_sports.

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