Rudy Lugo, a teacher who coached football and wrestling at Canoga Park High School for many years, died Tuesday at his home in Canoga Park after a two-year battle with lung cancer. He was 60.Read it all here. And, yes, that history teacher in my little brother.
"They called him Mr. Canoga," said history teacher Richard Tibbetts.
Born Nov. 22, 1947, Lugo graduated from Canoga Park High in 1965 and played baseball at what is now Cal State Northridge.
After earning his degree, he returned to Canoga Park High as an assistant coach in 1969 and became a physical education teacher in 1972.
Lugo coached wrestling from 1975 to 1996, and became the head football coach in 1986, giving up the position after the 2006 season because of complications from lung cancer.
In the Los Angeles Daily News, which is the San Fernando Valley's newspaper, Ramona Shelburne writes:
Rudy Lugo, the beloved teacher, football and wrestling coach at Canoga Park High, died Tuesday at his home in Canoga Park after a two-year battle with lung cancer. He was 60.Read it all here, and check out some photos, too. Lori (Giacopuzzi) Thomas is (like Richard and me) also a second generation Hunter, being 2 years ahead of me at our K-12 schools. (Connections, connections, connections.)
Lugo wore Hunters green nearly his whole life. He grew up around Canoga Park, starred as a football and baseball player there from 1962-65, returned to the sidelines almost as soon as he graduated from San Fernando Valley State (now Cal State Northridge) in 1969 and virtually never left until after the 2006 season, when he handed the program over to current head coach Ivan Moreno and his son Christopher Lugo, who is an assistant.
"He was Mr. Canoga," Canoga Park athletic director Lori Thomas said of Lugo. "He was my teacher, my friend, my colleague. I don't think there's anyone who didn't learn something from Rudy. He fought his cancer like he played his football games, he would never allow a running clock because that meant giving up. And he did the same thing with his cancer, he battled it all the way to the end."
Lugo's teams often took on his personality: Gritty, tough, hard-nosed and fearless. Canoga Park is generally one of the smallest schools in the district, but you'd never know it by the way its football and wrestling teams performed under Lugo. Or, in the tough kids Lugo made a point of trying to turn around.
"He was never afraid of anyone," said Jake Gwin, Canoga Park's boys' soccer coach and a close friend of Lugo's. "He had this great, deep reverberating voice that you'd swear you could still hear in the hallways after he spoke. When he talked to you in a stern voice, it got to your soul. And all those gangsters and hoodlums who heard that voice, man, it got to them because they knew there was a sincerity to it.
"You know, I think Rudy could be the world-record holder in converting gangsters and hoodlums into good, strong young men."
A rosary for Coach Rudy Lugo will be held Monday at 7:30 pm Monday; his funeral is Tuesday at 10 am. Both will be at Our Lady Of The Valley Catholic Church in Canoga Park (just a couple blocks up Topanga Canyon from the school).
In lieu of flowers, donations can be sent to: The Rudy Lugo Fund, c/o Canoga Park HS Booster Club, 6850 Topanga Canyon Blvd., Canoga Park, CA 91303.