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The Man, The Myth, The Legend: Jack Witry

You see the name Jack Witry on the side of the field house as you arrive to a CB game or dance. But do you really know who Jack Witry is? I do. Pretty well, actually. Not only is he my grandpa, but also a father, husband, friend, CB basketball coach, and a Christian Brothers […]

You see the name Jack Witry on the side of the field house as you arrive to a CB game or dance. But do you really know who Jack Witry is? I do. Pretty well, actually.

Not only is he my grandpa, but also a father, husband, friend, CB basketball coach, and a Christian Brothers legend for many years. He has been a part of the CB community since the 1950’s to the present day. I got the privilege to sit down and learn a little bit more about his history and journey of being a part of the CB community throughout the years.

My grandpa started working at Bishop Armstrong in September of 1957 when the school was only open for junior and senior upperclassmen. At the age of only 22, he taught Math, English, Business, and coached both men’s Varsity basketball and baseball. Not only was he the youngest faculty member but also the only non-brother.

Mr. Witry during his early days of teaching.

In 1962, Bishop Armstrong turned into an all boys school in part because of the establishment of St. Francis. The name Christian Brothers was adopted as soon as CB became all boys. Then, in 1963, Jesuit was built and took a majority of the Falcons that lived north of the American River.

Although this contributed to the rivalry, Mr. Witry added that “there has always been a rivalry, even before this happened.”

He said it all started when the archbishop of San Francisco asked the Brothers in Rome to open a college in San Francisco to teach Latin and Greek. The Jesuits claimed that this was their study, but the brothers proceeded to go ahead and do it anyways.

Mr. Witry has been with CB since 1957 to present day and says his favorite decade was the 1960’s. I proceeded to ask why, and he mentioned that parents viewed CB as a disciplinary school, so he made sure that reputation was upheld.

“Because it was all boys it was more joking around, it was just a simpler time”

Not only was this his favorite decade, but the decade with the first iconic Holy Bowl in 1966. You know what’s even better than the first Holy Bowl? Winning the first Holy Bowl, and CB achieved that.

Although we have a looser dress code and the boys don’t have mullets anymore, Mr. Witry says we kids still act the same as back in the day.

“The kids really haven’t changed too much. They still respond if you’re fair.

What has changed is the parents. “They always defend the kids so much more now,” he says.

When alumni approach me about my grandpa, they say Mr. Witry was strict, but fair. He was and is really big on honesty and respect.

“Being firm and honest with the kids is key,” he confidently says. “On alumni night, most of the people that approach me are the kids that had disciplinary problems.”

Mr. Witry stressed that the teachers should make efforts to create bonds with the kids. He promoted that teachers should attend sports games to support the students and create bonds. He also believed that administration should always be in a classroom at least one period of the day to really be involved and understand the students.

He also mentions that when the schools teaching staff was primarily Brothers, they would quickly run to Bertram Hall, change into regular clothes, and interact with the kids after school, whether is be talking to them or playing basketball.

62 years later and Jack still loves CB. He still comes to all CB events, helps coach men’s basketball, attends almost every baseball game, and comes to my sports games.

Jack said that once the girls came to CB in 1990, there were more sports, classes, arts, and diversity.

“The girls actually had a drill team that was really competitive. They would travel all around the state and even perform for the [Los Angeles] Rams.”

Although the drill team no longer exists, he says the school has come a long way and for the better. It’s grown immensely, he says. There’s no more smoking section. A brand new performing arts center, a whole new science wing, learning commons, and most importantly, the Jack Witry field house.

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