2004 Inductee - Tony S. Castañon

2004 Inductee - Tony S. Castañon


A great coach can often help a youngster more than a good teacher. A great athletic director can often help a school more than a good principal. Tony Castanon has been both a great coach and athletic director for St. Gertrude’s Church for over 40 years. He coached continuously for 25 years, sometimes coaching more than one team at a time.

In 1960 Tony started the St. Gertrude’s basketball program. It now has five boys’ teams, grades 4th through 8th and two girls’ teams, grades 5th through 8th grade. He has run the Father Noonan Basketball Tournament for 37 years and the Castanon Tournament for 6th grade boys for the last 30 years. His worth as a volunteer to St. Gertrude’s is over $1million if he averaged $22,700 a year in salary.

“Tony takes five months every year, 7days a week, countless hours to insure seven teams have coaches that are reliable and responsible enough to teach good sportsmanship. He also makes sure all teams have uniforms, basketballs, and even provides basketball shoes for children who can not afford to buy them,” Steve Castanon his son, states proudly. Tony has taken his teams to the North Cal playoffs and to Arizona.

Tony also ran the snack bar that paid for uniforms and playing fees. He has spent the last 20 years sponsoring a dinner dance and running other fundraisers to help support the Catholic Youth Organization (CYO) program. “The CYO was unique. Everyone wanted to play in it so the rules were changed to allow non-Catholics to play. We have had over 3,000 participate. Some of the best known players were Aaron Jenkins, Tiny Banks, and Dominique Banks.”

“He is truly a role model for our young people. His desire is to provide the best opportunity for youth to compete both as athletes and positive individuals in their community by instilling values of sportsmanship, discipline, hard work and respect for themselves and others. His contribution to his community and the youth has truly, without question, shown him to be a man of great generosity and desire to provide service to his fellow man,” to quote his nomination papers. Tony has also aided the Boy Scouts of American, the Boys & Girls Club of Stockton, the Knights of Columbus and the CYO Board of Directors of Northern California.

Many organizations have shown their appreciation to him. In 1995 St. Gertrude’s Parish honored him for his years of service. In 1997 the Knights of Columbus and CYO of Stockton both recognized him for his volunteer services. His most memorable honor might have come from Pope John Paul in 1999. Bishop Stewart Blair presented a Papal Medal to him from the pope. Only two Papal Medals were given in California that year. Representative Richard Pombo and the Latin American Club (LAC) also gave him awards in 1999.

In 1980 he was given the LAC Volunteer Athletic Involvement Award “in recognition of distinguished service.” The Diocese of Stockton awarded him for volunteer service to the Stockton Diocese CYO. A perpetual 4th grade trophy is named in his honor. His greatest honor might be seeing his family members and former players following in his gym shoes. Three of his sons, a daughter, a son-in-law and several of his former players have become CYO coaches.

“Tony has literally been “Mr. St. Gertrude’s” to the kids in the parish. He will do anything for them, and you always tell how much pride he takes in their accomplishments because he always knows where they are and what they are doing for years after they leave St. Gertrude’s,” said Jon Gustof, St. Mary’s legendary basketball coach.

Tony’s penchant for longevity extended to his job with the city of Stockton. He worked for 33 years before he retired in 1993. He started as a laborer and ended up as a Street Maintenance Supervisor.