As a Manteca High School graduate, Steve Winter had a different perspective than most who came to teach at Manteca High School.
For one, he grew up around the campus – going and watching the football team practice, and the baseball games that drew large crowds who would turn out to support the city’s only high school.
And in a sense, the legacy of his family name will never be completely gone from the school he graduated from in 1965.
Both the pool and the gymnasium are named after the father of the former teacher – and principal – of Manteca High School who during his tenure coached football, swimming, basketball and golf.
But even with his legacy status literally stenciled on the walls of the campus, it was the teams that he coached in his career that stand out amongst a full career today, and his involvement with promoting girls sports that he points to as his lasting legacy.
Winter is among the Manteca High coaches being honored during a dinner on Saturday, May 13, at Chez Shari.
“I miss the kids the most,” Winter said about reflecting on his time away from education and coaching. “I was always fortunate to have come into contacts with some wonderful kids and extremely supportive parents that played a big role in that.
“A lot of the students that stand out for me were talented both athletically and academically, and they left a lasting impression on me during my time at Manteca High.”
As a former student, Winter knew all about the history of Manteca High School and its place as the center of the community – both literally and figuratively. He attended the games as a kid, spent his time prowling the same hallways students still do today as a student, and walked onto the fields and the courts and courses as a coach – all of which with the sense of pride that he was representing his alma mater and his city’s namesake high school.
Regardless of the era, Winter said that he always knew that Manteca High was a place where excellence was stressed and rewarded, and the students and athletes themselves went above and beyond to reach that level whenever possible.
“Manteca High has had such a tremendous tradition of excellence, be it athletically or academically,” he said. “It has always produced quality people that have gone on to make major contributions to our society and I believe that we just really shouldn’t throw away our history – and I mean that in general.
“Our past is our foundation and it really leads to building our future and hopefully we can always look back and continue to learn from our past.”
While his career in education spanned decades, Winter said that each of the sports that he was involved with during his coaching career taught him things that he couldn’t have replicated anywhere else. As a sophomore football coach with Jim Brown – who would go on to become a coaching legend at East Union High School – he gained a newfound respect for the program that coach Walker Vick ran at Manteca High School, and the level of dedication that went into shaping and molding young men.
But it was golf that left a lasting impression and got him involved in ways that literally shaped and transformed the way that young women became involved in athletics even decades later.
As the girls golf coach, Winter was selected to be a part of committee that organized girls golf on a state level through the CIF office. That involvement laid the framework for building the sport throughout the region and California as a whole.
When he looks at some of the success that local Manteca female athletes have had on the links in recent years – even those at other high schools – he can’t but help feel proud of the role that the played in making that access possible.
“I’m very proud of being a part of that committee and I get such a thrill out of seeing our girls athletes succeeding like they have,” Winter said. “Even today I put on the girls Masters meet and to watch the skill level and see how far girls golf has come in the years since I coached it is amazing.
“You sit back and watch them compete and they will compete with anybody, and I’m very proud of that – I feel like I played a little bit of a part in that and had the opportunity to play a part in that.”
These days Winter – who spent a brief period as a substitute administrator at Lathrop High School and Sierra High School before going back into his joyous retirement – enjoys playing golf, a sport he learned from his father, as well as traveling and spending time with his grandchildren.
Even though he was a part of the coaching legacy of Manteca High in the 1970’s, Winter said that those men were an inspiration not just to the kids they were tasked with molding, but also young teachers and coaches like himself who learned so much by just being involved.
“Those coaches played a vital role in shaping my life when I was a student there, and when I was a teacher there,” he said. “Coach Jacobs and Coach Vick and Coach Handy – they were vital in my development as a young man and as a teacher and coach.
“Manteca Unified has done a tremendous job finding young men and women to step up and fill those roles in coaching and instill those same lessons into the young people we have today. The life lessons that sports teaches you can be found in an academic setting, but sports merges them together and ties them together and that enhances what can be learned. I always said that if a young man was disciplined in the classroom he would be disciplined on the field or on the court and I think that’s a correlation that works both ways.”
To contact reporter Jason Campbell email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 209.249.3544.