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The news site of Santa Barbara City College.

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The news site of Santa Barbara City College.

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Late coach Frank Carbajal leaves a long-lasting impact on athletes

Courtesy Image
Coach Frank Carbajal seated in front of some of his former players.

Frank Carbajal, legendary City College men’s basketball coach, passed away on Thursday, Sept. 29, after a long battle with progressive supranuclear palsy. He was 78.

“Coach Carb” coached the Vaqueros for 10 seasons (1978-88) and led them to four Western State Conference championships and a spot as the state runner-up in the 1983-84 season. His overall record at City College was 195-115.

His family migrated in 1910 to Northern Colorado from Chihuahua, Mexico to work for the Great Western Sugar Company. Mr. Carbajal was the youngest of 11 children and was born in 1938 in Greeley, Colorado.

“My father insisted and demanded on tremendous work ethic and got it from all of us,” Mr. Carbajal said in a 2013 YouTube documentary, made by his stepson Dustin Coleman.

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Growing up he was a standout athlete in baseball and basketball. He played both throughout high school and college, and was known for his fierce pitching and near perfect free throw shooting. He was one of the top free throw shooters in the nation his senior year at Colorado State College, which is now the University of Northern Colorado.

Mr. Carbajal had a long and successful career as a coach, and left a heavy impact on many players he came across.

“He ended up influencing a lot of young guys lives,” said Former City College Student Jim McCoy, who played under Mr. Carbajal from 1985-87. “Aside from my dad, he probably was one of the biggest influences in my life.”

Mr. Carbajal got his first coaching job in 1962 at a high school in Moab, Utah, before coming to California in 1967 to coach at Elk Grove High School in Sacramento. Mr. Carbajal later spent some time as an assistant coach at California State University, Fresno before coming to City College in 1978.

“He never cut anybody, he just worked you until you cut yourself. I think we ended up with eight my freshman year,” McCoy said. “He taught us to be in such good shape that in the fourth quarter when other teams were tired and fading out we were just catching our stride.”

Mr. Carbajal was known for bringing the best out of his players through his tough coaching methods and strong values. His teams were always structured around the importance of a commanding defense, the Vaqueros ranked first in the state for overall defense twice between the 1979-82 seasons.

A well-known rule among his players was to never be late for “Carb Time,” where everyday the gym doors would be locked at 12:45 p.m., 15 minutes before practice started. If a player was unfortunate enough to be late that day, Mr. Carbajal was happy to let them in, that is, after they hit the track and ran 10 miles.

Mistakes at practice would also result in extra conditioning for his players. They ran allotted miles after practice until it got dark while he would cruise next to them in his car sipping a soda.

It’s no question that Mr. Carbajal left a lasting impression on every player he coached.

Mr. Carbajal is survived by his wife Kathy Wong and his four children, Randi, Misty, Deron and Kirby, and stepson Dustin; and four grandchildren, Cooper, Lesli, Jackson and Dylan. ­­

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