Former College of the Canyons football coach Larry Reisbig died on Monday, but his legacy still echoes in the Santa Clarita Valley.
“(He was a) pioneer of Santa Clarita football,” said Hart football coach Mike Herrington, who played for Reisbig on the offensive line in 1977.
Reisbig joined COC as a coach in the football team’s inaugural season in 1970 and was later named head coach in 1973.
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In his nine seasons as a coach at Canyons, he had a 51-38 record and won a conference championship in 1973, then another in 1975.
Not only was Reisbig, who died in Newport Beach at age 77, a successful coach, he was a mentor who changed the lives of those who played for him.
BJ Atkins, current vice president of Newhall County Water District and a member of the board of directors at Castaic Water Lake Agency, was a center on the COC offensive line during Reisbig’s tenure.
“He changed guys,” Atkins said. “He would call them on what they were doing and he would change their personalities to be a catalyst in their lives to make sure that they got straightened up and flying right.”
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“He really loved his players,” he said. “He demanded respect, but he loved the players and was close to his players.”
Reisbig left Canyons in 1981 when the school’s football program took a temporary hiatus and went on to coach at several colleges before retiring from coaching in 2002.
Afterward, he was the athletic director at Long Beach City College from 2003-2010. As a coach at the school, he set the record for most wins in program history (83) and won six Mission Conference, Northern Division titles.
On Jan. 22, 2009, he was inducted into the COC Athletics Hall of Fame.
“He knew what the heck football was about and was able to influence all these lives and in the process, win way more than he lost,” Atkins said. “It wasn’t always about winning and losing. It was about making sure you learned from the effort.”