It is a high honor that even some of the greatest sports legends never receive.
Almost a year after losing his battle to pancreatic cancer, Las Positas College is paying homage to Tony Costello by naming its home basketball court after the school’s first men’s basketball coach.
A ceremony for Tony Costello was held at the district’s convocation gathering earlier this month. It was there that Costello’s sister, Colleen Costello-Kreidler, gave a speech announcing the plans for the naming of the basketball court.
“Tony was so proud to walk into this building and step onto this court as the first head coach in the history of the Las Positas basketball program,” Costello-Kreidler said. “We know his spirit fills this gym today and we are so proud that the basketball court is now carrying his name. Welcome to the Tony Costello Court.”
Costello-Kreidler also talked about the type of impact her brother made not only as a basketball coach, but as an instructor as well.
“Through the sport of basketball, he taught a number of lessons that truly applied to life,” Costello-Kreidler said. “Lessons about effort, patience, discipline, control and passion. He believed in his students and he believed in his players every day.”
One of those players who can attest to this is former LPC Hawks basketball player Jake Contreras. Now playing NCAA Division III basketball at Whittier College, Contreras, who last season was named LPC’s Male Scholar-Athlete of the Year and honored with the first-ever Costello Award, credits his former coach for helping him get to where he is today both as a player and student.
“He was the best coach I’ve ever had,” Contreras said. “He convinced me to come to a junior college instead of (taking) other offers and redshirting. He told me I wouldn’t regret it and it was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.”
Contreras says Costello’s favorite phrase was “get better today” and that he and his teammates to motivate each other daily used those three words.
“He had the best coaching presence I’ve ever seen,” Contreras said. “He just made you work and play harder simply by walking into the gym. It’s hard to put it into words what a huge impact he made with me and my teammates.”
As for the naming of the basketball court in honor of Costello, Contreras and his teammates were proponents of making this happen since the end of last season.
“We always said it’s the house that Costello built. No doubt it’s the right thing to do,” Contreras said.
He may not have won a championship, but having led the school to four playoff appearances in eight years after taking over in 2005, Costello helped establish what he inherited as a brand-new basketball program.
“He was a tireless worker,” LPC Athletic Director Dyan Miller said. “He was always the first one in and the last one out.”
Miller recalls Costello brining over some players from New Orleans in 2005 after Hurricane Katrina. This is just one of the many good deeds she says that made Costello such a beloved figure in the community.
“He brought some players in from there (New Orleans) and helped them out,” Miller said. “He was always giving back, whether it was to the students or to the faculty.”
While Costello’s career may not be as decorated as others when talking about the top coaches in college basketball history, his presence on campus left a mark. His legacy will now forever be immortalized whenever you go and watch an LPC basketball game.