Redondo Union football coach Gene Simon suddenly resigns after 16 seasons

Redondo football coach Gene Simon

In happier times, Gene Simon celebrates with his team after Redondo defeated rival Mira Costa to finish second in the Bay League. Photo by Ray Vidal

In a stunning turn of events Thursday, Gene Simon resigned from his position as the longtime head football coach at Redondo Union High School.

“This is a big change and not one I’m eager for,” an emotional Simon said.

In an age where accusations and rumors run rampant in the world of sports, Simon was quick to state his decision was not prompted by any scandal or wrongdoing.

“There is no ill will whatsoever and I’m content to move on,” Simon said. “I plan to keep coaching either here or somewhere else, but I don’t have any plans as of now.”

An inquiry e-mailed to Athletic Director Andy Saltsman regarding the resignation was referred to Redondo Union High School Principal Dr. Nicole Wesley.

“We thank Coach Simon for his 16 years of service to the football program at Redondo Union High School,” Wesley said. “After careful consideration, we have determined that it is in the school’s best interest to seek new leadership for the football program and we will begin an extensive search process in early January.”

For 16 years, Simon and his staff successfully faced the challenge of running a year-round, highly-competitive high school football program while compiling a 100-76-3 record and three league championships. Thirty three of his players went on to play Division 1 football.

Simon took pride in his teams, assuring they won with class and displayed character while representing both their school and community. His teaching went beyond preparing for the upcoming game. He wanted his players to win in ways that extended beyond the gridiron and into other significant areas of their lives.

Simon’s announcement came less than two weeks after Redondo gave heavily favored St. Bonaventure all it could handle before the third-seeded Seraphs eliminated the Sea Hawks 19-10 in the first round of the CIF Southern Section-Ford Northern Division championships.

It was a game Simon considered a turning point in Redondo’s football program, proving his team could compete with highly-ranked private schools.

Redondo completed the 2011 season with a 5-6 overall record and finished second in the Bay League losing only to champion Palos Verdes. As was the case for many seasons, Simon scheduled high quality opponents from outside the area as part of the Sea Hawk’s demanding non-league schedule.

One parent, who asked to remain anonymous, was disappointed upon learning of Simon’s departure but not surprised after hearing rumors at the beginning of the season.

“Now I’m concerned about the continuity and consistency of Redondo’s football program,” the parent said. “I think, for the most part, Coach Simon had the support of the parents. I wish him the best of luck.”

Simon began his coaching career at Redondo in August 1993 when he was hired as a full-time teacher but it was his expertise on the gridiron that caught the eyes of the Redondo administration.

“They (Redondo) wanted a teacher who also coached,” Simon stated in a 1993 LA Times interview. “So during my interview, I played up my teaching ability. But they made it clear to me that they wanted me to coach.”

At the time, Simon was entering his fourth season as wide receiver and tight end coach for John Featherstone at El Camino College and performed double duty that season serving as a quarterback, running back and defensive back coach at Redondo.

In August 1996, only 17 days before the season opener, Simon was hired as head coach of the Sea Hawks and a new era was born.

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