Princeton Principles

Watch the man in front of you, he tells you what to do!

Coach Mike Gragnani

Mike Gragnani a friend, colleague, mentor and sometimes larger than life character passed away yesterday at age 50 leaving behind his wife and two young adult children.

He and I met  back in 2002 after I applied for the Berkeley High School Boy’s Basketball Coach job which he ultimately got and I ultimately was thankful he did.

We bonded almost instantly spending five years together there in what felt like 50 trying to change the landscaping and atmosphere that we came to find.

Mike was incredibly successful at Berkeley! We were able to win for 4 ACCAL Championships and in 2005 bring a North Coast Section Championship to Berkeley High for the first time in 25 years.

After Mike left Berkeley High he went on to Abraham Lincoln High School in San Francisco and there too changed the landscape bringing the Mustangs back to back 25 win seasons in 2007-2008.

The SF Chronicle blog described Mike: “one of the most passionate and dedicated boys basketball coach in the bay area”

I agree whole-heartedly and though would add this:

There is a little known movie starring Bill Murray as Dr. Hunter Thompson called “Where the Buffalo Roam”.  In that film Murray’s character has an “on again-off again” relationship with a character named Carl Laslow (played by Peter Boyle).

At one point Thompson is asked if Laslow was real or a figment of his imagination to which Thompson replied:
You couldn’t invent someone like Carl Lazlo. He was a… he was one of a kind. He was a mutant. A real heavyweight water buffalo type… who could chew his way through a concrete wall and spit out the other side covered with lime and chalk and look good in doing it.”

Mike too was a water buffalo type!

Grags (as he was called by those he knew for years) was Bobby Knight meets John Belushi…..ironically “Animal House” was a favorite movie of his and one we often quoted to describe circumstances.

When my Mike’s Assistant and my Cousin Steve called me to relay the story of Mike’s passing he may have said it best; “This leaves a huge hole”!

Coach Mike you’ll be remembered by me and hopefully by all who knew you for all that you did for youth in high school basketball here the bay area. Many have tried what you did but few have ever or will ever do it as well”

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