by George Duarte
Mark Calentino has been a teacher and coach here at San Clemente High School since 1990. Mark states that he comes from a traditional Italian family. That he grew up in the food business and his parents still run the Italian Deli that they opened in 1969 in Costa Mesa. He says he enjoys family time, fishing (mostly tuna), and gardening. And that he has won many awards at the Orange County Fair for the fruits and vegetables he has grown.
Mark lives here in San Clemente with his wife Jennifer and his children Camille (9) Mark (7), and Dog Kiku.
“I love living here in San Clemente, when I got the job here in 1990 at SCHS we immediately moved here. There really is nowhere else that I would rather live,” Mark revealed
Although that first paragraph reads like Calentino is a mild-mannered high school educator, it doesn’t quite describe him. Mark was hardly the most dedicated of students, but was very involved in athletics.
“For me high school had little to do with academics, and everything to do with sports. I participated in football, wrestling, and track. I was the captain of my varsity wrestling team for three years, and of my football team my senior year. I was also voted defensive MVP in football by my teammates,” Calentino said.
Now, we have a fuller picture of a jock with experience in the food industry. But where Mark has really made his “mark” is in his work with kids.
While Calentino assumed he was going to go into the food business after high school, he wanted to wrestle for a couple more years, so he went to Golden West College to compete. Once there he took a Biology 100 class by Bonny Rhook that really turned him on to the sciences.
Mark describes himself as someone not likely to have been an obvious success academically or to have become a teacher. But when one watches him work with kids, it is not a job for Mark, it is a calling and a career. Currently teaching Integrated Science and Astronomy, he has also taught Biology, Living sea, Science 1, Science 2, ESL Science 2, and Physical Science. And while coaching football for 17 years, 16 here at SCHS at the Frosh and J.V. levels, Calentino has compiled 106 victories and coached 2 JV teams to league championships. Most students at SCHS know Mark is a football coach, but EVERYONE knows he is the wrestling coach.
Coaching wrestling for 18 years, the last 15 years here at SCHS as head coach, Calentino has an impressive record of 252-53-1. The Tritons under his direction have won 10 league championships, twice been CIF runner-up, and won a CIF championship last season. In 2002 they were crowned Academic CIF Champions. And last year Mark Calentino was voted Orange County Wrestling Coach of the Year by the Orange County Wrestling Coaches Association and the Orange County Register.
Why does Coach Cal do what he does? Mark is most proud of having been able to help kids without direction, or troubled kids get their lives going in a positive direction.
“I have kids that come back regularly and express their gratitude for the role that I, my staff, and my program have had in their lives. These are lifelong friendships that a win loss record can’t begin to represent.”
Through counseling, nagging, threatening, and simply caring Mark has worked with students to get them back on the academic track they needed to be on to graduate.
Mark added, “Just last year there were four graduates that were not on track to graduate going into their junior year, but on graduation day all four of them were there to receive their diplomas. Between those four boys, Coach John Owens and I figured we had spent well over a thousand hours studying with, counseling, and sometimes getting these kids out of hot water. The pay off is when in the future these young men call, email, or stop by and we see the successes that they become. It is truly gratifying to have a hand in the shaping of these boys into upstanding men.” b
“I love living here in San Clemente, when I got the job here in 1990 at SCHS we immediately moved here. There really is nowhere else that I would rather live,”