Janet M Kelly
He was positive, outgoing, energetic and willing to help anyone who could use the help. He had a great faith in God and reflected that faith in God’s love to others, and his knowledge of the salvation that Christ could provide to others in everything he did. Oliver Crandell
Do you remember swimming in the pool at Kingsburg High School? Some may remember to old pool with its high, hard-to-climb-out-of sides and wire baskets to keep personal items in. Some may think of the new pool… state of the art facility for Kingsburg High Swimming and Water Polo, or Seawolves, or just keeping the kids happy for a few hours during the summer months. What do these two pools have in common, beside water? Sam Crandell the much loved coach from the old pool, and the namesake of the new pool.
Who is Sam Crandell?
Sam Crandell was born and raised in Stokes, North Carolina in 1921. He attended East Carolina University, earning a Bachelors of Science Degree in History. After college, he enlisted in the Navy serving as a Physical Rehabilitation Officer. He earned a Master’s Degree in Physical Education. After teaching at Redwood High in Visalia, he moved to Kingsburg and started teaching and coaching at Kingsburg High School in 1957. He taught World History, US History, Physical Science, PE and was a Bible Club advisor for many years.
Sam Crandell taught and coached at Kingsburg High for 29 years, winning awards, and taking teams to divisional, valley, and state competitions. He was a tough but fair coach, and taught his athletes to be consistent, courageous, honest, and gracious whether they won or lost. His well-known and well-loved words of encouragement were “A quitter never wins and a winner never quits” and “When the going gets tough, the tough get going.”
Sam Crandell retired from teaching and coaching in June 1986, and died in 1995
Coach Crandell’s Legacy
It is said that if you ask adults to name five people who profoundly influenced their lives, one of those will usually be a teacher. Coach Crandell left a legacy of influence on students for generations. Over his tenure, his profound impact touched many young lives.
Cathryn Oltman: I will forever remember Sam Crandell striding around the pool in foggy January, in sweats with a towel around his neck telling us swim team members that we weren’t really cold, it was all in our heads.
Jill Rhodes Clausen: I was on the KHS swim team in the late 80’s when he was so dedicated to keeping the program going he drove us to practice in Fowler every single day. He retired my junior year, and the program fizzled without him! It brings me such joy to see his dreams flourish today in a continued swim community.
Marsha Anderson Charpentier: Never the fastest swimmer on either the Seawolves or KHS Viking varsity ~ the one race I won was a miracle. As I touched, there was no one else there, I thought God I was so slow they’ve all gotten out of the pool. Then that sweet face leaned in to pull me out, and said, “YOU won”!
He made me swim butterfly and I finally became a winner.
Chuck Donna Weaver: Sam Crandall was an awesome, kind, thoughtful, encouraging human being. In high school I was on the swim team, but I was much more interested in becoming a diver, but we had no diving coach, Coach Crandall pretty much left it up to me to learn everything on my own. He told me he had every confidence in me to lead the diving team and he would do everything he could to help. It was a lot put on my shoulders but I took on the task. I just remember Coach Crandall coming to me at the end of our season and telling me how proud he was of our diving team. I made it to the valley meet all four years, didn’t always place but was proud to be there.
Katherine Mallory: Coach Sam was my swim coach for many years. He coached and drove the bus to take us to swim meets. He was teaching World History when I got to high school. I was a friend of his daughter, Donna. He was a very present adult in my life. He could not swim that well. We all respected him a lot.
Katchy Silva I remember Coach Crandell. He was our swim coach when I was in high school. I remember one year we won a swim tournament that no one thought we would win and the team was so excited we threw him in the pool suit, shoes and all. Then we thought about it and thought, “Oh no he is going to be mad.” But he got out of the pool and just laughed. He was a great swim coach!! I am 80 and still remember him!!
Richard Rouch: I think he took somewhat of a liking to me since I was quite small in HS. Coach talked me into joining the wrestling team. He had us run the bleachers up and down every day after school and then practice in the old building at the north end of the football field that had no windows and always smelled like a bunch of old sock, but he always had a championship wrestling team with many valley and I believe a couple state champions.
Roberto Contreras: Coach Crandell was a believer in “Conditioning.” Our practices were a steady diet of instruction and plenty of mat time. He coached my older brothers Fred, Raul, Reynaldo, and younger brother Rick. But truth be said, he was everybody’s coach.
Ruth E Ratzlaff: Does anyone else remember Mr. Crandall driving us to Youth for Christ on Saturday nights? I don’t know if he did it every week, but we congregated in front of the Baptist Church and piled into whomever’s car had enough gas. It was really above and beyond on the part of Mr. Crandell.
Charlie Harper: Sam was my teacher when I was a freshman, his first year of teaching at Kingsburg. He was a small, but mighty man. He was a spiritual giant, an influence on many people. He was respected by many in his coaching/teaching position.
Dinese Cortez-Kestly: I remember him and his wife EVERY SUNDAY in church without fail. I think he was praying for patience for all of us kids he cared for. He coached SOLO, and never missed a meet or a practice. He made (my sister) a Valley Champion in the freestyle!! (I still picture him in his “K” hat, black rimmed glasses, and golf shorts…always creased). Amazing man
Russ and Sheryl Noble: Coach Crandell lived out of his faith in grace, honesty, gentleness, humility, patience and kindness. He and his wife attended our church while I was in high school. His wife’s heart and health were broken by grief. He cared for her so thoughtfully, tenderly without drawing attention to himself or her.
Steve Linman: He was my driver’s ed. teacher. Patience had to be his virtue the way my fellow student drove.
Judy Jacobson: I can still remember his southern drawl when he spoke. He was so kind and always grabbed my attention with some of his stories. You knew he was a Christian by his character and demeanor.
As a Fellow Teacher
Julie Craig: My first year teaching I was Sam’s assistant swim coach! We would be sitting talking and bees would start to fly around us. They would land on him and he would just sit there! No fear or concern. They would crawl all over him. And he would just sit there socializing with the bees! He coached much the same way. Calm and gentle. Never angry or any negativity to anyone! He was a very strong personality in a small package. He led by example! He was a very kind and sincere man. A man of principle and strong beliefs who was friends with bees!
These are but a few reasons the name Sam Crandell is in the hearts of former students, as well as on the wall of The Crandell Swimming Complex. Next time you enjoy a refreshing dip, and see the plaque dedicated to Sam, you can be inspired by the life and legacy of a man who had a profound impact in the Kingsburg Community.