Remembering coach Tom Kinnard

Educator leaves legacy of service, love


Special To / The Advocate

Former CCC football coach and athletic director Tom Kinnard passed away on Monday, Nov 19 at the age of 79. He spent 27 years at the college serving many different positions.

By Efrain Valdez, Sports Editor

Longevity and charisma are a combination of traits that are not given to an individual, they are acquired by only the finest of people.
Former Comet physical education professor and football coach Tom Kinnard was someone who used those characteristics to encourage his co-workers, enlighten the students he coached and bring joy to everybody he knew.
The Oklahoma-born, Richmond-raised educator found a way to not only be a great member of the East Bay community, but a person who genuinely cared about the youth’s involvement in sports and academia.
However, this community now mourns the loss of Kinnard, who passed away on Nov. 19 with his family by his side at the age of 79.
Kinnard, who was a Contra Costa College alumnus, started teaching and coaching football at the college in 1973.
He cemented himself as a fixture at the college following short coaching stints at Salesian and Kennedy high schools.
Former CCC football coach Robert Creer, who met Kinnard in the 1950s as kids, said they have shared a lifetime of memories and experiences that are unforgettable.
“It is a tremendous loss for the community because he cared so much about the athletes,” Creer said. “We have been friends, athletes and coaches since I was in junior high school. I lost a lifelong friend.”
Kinnard spent the better part of 27 years at CCC serving as an instructor, coach and finally as athletic director.
CCC Athletic Director John Wade said that Kinnard was an honest, straight-to-the-point guy who was very well respected.
“I was stunned,” Wade said when he heard about Kinnard’s passing. “I knew he was not doing well, but I was not expecting this. I was just reflecting on how much we’ll miss him and how much of a straight-up guy he was.”
His stint as athletic director (1996-2001) saw CCC’s women’s basketball team begin one of the greatest stretches of success in college history.
Also, during his time leading the department, the college saw success gained by the track team and the resurgence of the women’s soccer team.
“He was like a Swiss army knife. He could do a little bit of everything,” former CCC women’s basketball coach Paul DeBolt said. “He was a big part of the community. He was involved in everything and because of that everyone knew him.”
He played football at El Cerrito High School until he graduated in 1957. Then, after two years at CCC he went on to San Francisco State University.
While there, he received his bachelor’s and master’s degrees, and teaching credential.
As much as Kinnard did for the athletic department at CCC, his passion was football.
From 1973 to 1980 he was an assistant coach at CCC, then he was hired as head football coach from 1981 to 1989.
He served in that position until he retired after being slowed down by back problems.
“The football team (here) was his baby,” DeBolt said. “He would run around doing things to advertise the team.”
DeBolt reflected on the times he worked with Kinnard while under his direction.
“He always knew how to encourage you. He knew how to take the pressure off you,” DeBolt said.
Wade said that his caring mentality was one of the reasons he was so influential to this community. He also said those traits reflected the kind of family man he was.
Kinnard is survived by his wife of 56 years, Ana Kinnard, his children Lisa, Timothy (deceased) and Cindy.
In a 2001 article in The Advocate, Kinnard said that the college will always mean a lot to him. “Next to my family, it’s my greatest love,” he said.