Howland hosts birthday bash for Sal Rodriguez

Ben Howland with Sal Rodriguez

Ben Howland, left, with United Boys & Girls Club Board Chair Diana Starr Langley and Sal Rodriguez at Tucker’s Grove on Saturday.

Former UCLA basketball coach Ben Howland and local Boys and Girls Club legend Sal Rodriguez go way back.

The pair met when Howland was a sixth grader playing basketball over four decades ago.

Howland, who led the Bruins to three Final Four appearances, was a distinguished guest at Rodriguez’s 70th birthday celebration on Saturday at Tucker’s Grove Park.

The pair have remained in touch over the years as Howland came to know Rodriguez as a mentor and friend.

?What I give back will never come close to what I received from United Boys & Girls Clubs,? Howland said.

Howland attended Dos Pueblos High School in Goleta before moving to Cerritos for the end of high school. Howland returned to Santa Barbara twice. First as a college player at Santa Barbara City College and then again in 1982 for 12 years as an assistant at UCSB to Jerry Pimm and Ed DeLacy. He then took a head coaching jobs at Northen Arizona and Pitt that propelled him to the top gig at UCLA.

Rodriguez has been a life-long contributor to the Boys & Girls Club. He currently holds the title of ?Events Director/Transportation & Fleet Manager of the United Girls and Boys Clubs of Santa Barbara County. Rodriguez also is the head coach for the Laguna Blanca boys basketball team.

?My gift will be my legacy to a great organization that continues to shape lives every generation,? said Rodriguez.

The United Boys and Girls Clubs of Santa Barbara County?supports over 7,000 youth throughout Santa Barbara County. Youth can come to the Clubs to be with friends, participate in sports and engage in educational activities.

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