Longtime Sacred Heart Cathedral coach and faculty member, Gerald “Jerry” Phillips, passed away on Sunday, the school announced.
A member of both the Sacred Heart Cathedral and San Francisco Prep halls of fame, Phillips was 85, and served in some capacity at the school from 1956 to 2013.
Phillips was the head boys’ basketball coach from 1962 to 1985, going 512-294. He not only won the program’s last league title in the Academic Athletic Association (1969), but also the first in the West Catholic Athletic League in 1972. He’d later win another league crown — shared with St. Ignatius — in 1983.
He later came out of retirement to coach at Las Lomas from 1990 to 1995. — All five of his children and his wife Janice graduated from Las Lomas.
Four of his teams reached the old Tournament of Champions, and he won six league titles and one (1972) Central Coast Section championship. He saw at least 40 of his charges advance to the college ranks, including Eric White, who starred at Pepperdine.
A 1952 graduate of Fremont High, Phillips played basketball at Saint Mary’s, graduating in 1956.
Phillips was known for his ability to win with less talent than his opponents, and taught the game in a way that inspired many former players to become coaches, including the incoming executive director of the California Interscholastic Federation, Ron Nocetti.
Nocetti, a two-sport athlete at Sacred Heart Cathedral and a University of San Francisco alumnus, served as dean of students for the Fightin’ Irish during a nine-year administrative career with his alma mater.
“Coach Phillips — a great teacher and coach who taught us countless life lessons,” Nocetti tweeted on Monday. “Please reach out to your former teachers and coaches and let them know the positive impact they had on you. Coach Phillips was this person in my life and I am forever grateful.”