Local coaches and administrators given CIF life passes

REGION — The committee members who select recipients of a CIF San Diego Section life pass for distinguished service deemed Clark Gilbert, Terry Kok and Suzanne O’Connell worthy enough to be given life passes this year.

Gilbert, Kok and O’Connell were among seven coaches and administrators presented with a CIF life pass May 24. Gilbert will be retiring as the Tri-City Christian superintendent, Kok is retiring from the CIF board of managers but will remain as the Calvin Christian superintendent for one additional year, and O’Connell is retiring as the deputy superintendent of the Carlsbad Unified School District.

“It is an amazing honor,” Gilbert said.

“I love high school athletics, so it will be fun,” Kok said of his life pass.

“I’m just thrilled. I’m a sports addict, so having a lifetime pass gives me an opportunity to just really go enjoy sports and continue to watch the impact sports has on kids,” O’Connell said. “It’s a real honor to be given that pass.”

Gilbert, who lives in Encinitas, spent 22 years at Santa Fe Christian and has been with Tri-City Christian for the past 11 years. He coached football, basketball and lacrosse and was also a team chaplain.

“I know how important sports are in the lives of high school students,” Gilbert said. “I think it’s one of the most influential classrooms that education has.”

Use of his CIF life pass will be part of Gilbert’s post-retirement plans. “Just going to relax, watch sports,” he said.

Kok came to Calvin Christian from the state of Washington 19 years ago. He spent a decade and a half on the CIF board of managers including 10 years on the executive committee and three years as president. Kok represented the private non-Catholic schools on the CIF board of managers.

“Athletics made a difference,” Kok said. “It’s been a great experience for me.”

Kok chose to step down from the CIF board of managers a year prior to retiring from Calvin Christian so that he could assist his board of manager’s successor in the transition.

“We’re in, I believe, a way better place than we were 10 years ago,” Kok said. “It’s in good hands.”

O’Connell is originally from the Philadelphia area and taught in Pennsylvania, Arizona, and New Jersey before spending nine years with the San Dieguito Union High School District and 13 years with the Carlsbad Unified School District. She spent 10 years on the CIF board of managers including six years on the executive committee, and she also chaired the finance committee.

“I’ve seen firsthand the difference this board has made,” O’Connell said. “I’m very proud of the work we’ve done here.”

O’Connell noted that the impact of sports on student-athletes lasts behind their playing days. “You see the importance it has on them lifetime,” she said.

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