Sports Volunteer of the Month: Christie Cooney, Lou Panizzon work to endow future Warriors

Christie Cooney, left, with father Lou Panizzon. The team is helping raise $100,000 for Carpinteria High School's athletic department.

Christie Cooney, left, with Lou Panizzon. The father-daughter team is helping raise $100,000 for Carpinteria High School’s athletic department.

Lou Panizzon coached five teams to CIF championships at Carpinteria High School. His daughter, Christie, is now looking to provide the Warriors with an even bigger prize: an endowment for the athletics department.

With a goal to raise $100,000, the endowment is meant to be the gift that keeps on giving for the school’s 100th birthday, a gift that will serve Warrior athletes for another 100 years.

“My mom and dad went to Carpinteria High School, I went there, my kids will go there,” Christie Cooney said, professing a deep-rooted connection to the school.

Many of the bonds that form that connection were established because of athletics. Her father coached some of the most fabled Warriors teams ever, including the undefeated 1987 CIF football champions.

“That was by far my favorite team,” Cooney said. “It was an amazing season and I can remember all of the games.”

Christie, who worked in the sports information department while a student at Cal, got her start taking stats for her dad’s teams. She was in charge of stats for the ’87 team and many others, including 10 years at the Russell Cup. As an adult, she sees how athletics played a positive role for her growing up.

The connection remains. The former tennis player said she was thrilled to see this year’s girls tennis team win its second-straight CIF title.

“So I hope my kids get to have an experience like that.”

Family legacies are important at Carpinteria High, and a reason why the community has supported many fundraising projects in the past.

“Everybody’s asking for money all the time and our little town seems to come through. I mean, they definitely raise money for a worthy cause,” Panizzon said.

Lou Panizzon raises money for Carpinteria High School the same way he won CIF Championships. With commitment, hard work, and community. He led the effort that raised $1.25 million to build Carpinteria Valley Memorial Stadium and credits much of the support to the 182 alumni who donated to that project.

The endowment would alleviate the constant need for fundraising that has become the norm since – as is the case at all public high schools in California – costs for athletics have consistently increased while funding has decreased.

“It’s the way to sustain money over time,  so I think it’s a smart move.” Panizzon said.


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Presidio Sports and Pacific Western Bank have partnered to recognize important volunteer work in the local sports community. This monthly spotlight series is our way of thanking those that selflessly give themselves for the benefit of many. To all volunteers making a difference, we salute you.

Christie Panizzon Cooney, right, with Coach Panizzon, center, and

Christie Panizzon Cooney, right, with Coach Panizzon, center, and brother Matthew

Cooney, a booster club board member who is married to Athletic Director Pat Cooney, came up with the idea to do something special for the high school’s centennial. The four-year fundraising campaign began in November at the Warriors’ 2013 Athletics Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony and the initial response was very positive.

“It was a great turnout. We filled the room. Every table was full and people were still showing up that night,” Cooney said.

Panizzon, in the Warrior Hall-of-Fame already, gave a speech themed “Who We Are,” that made the case for how important Carpinteria High School athletics is to the fabric of the community at large. It must have been a strong pitch because the “Centennial Fund” was able to bring in $20,000.

Now the campaign team is looking to get back to its mission after taking a break over the holidays.

“We don’t give up, so it’s not like we just did this initial thing and then stopped. We’re going to see this through,” Cooney explained. “We have four years to do it and hopefully we accomplish it before then.”