Welcome Home, Coach: Billy Masopust Court Dedication


Loving. Caring. Passionate. Family. These are the words most commonly used to describe the character of the late and great Billy Masopust. On Thursday, Feb. 16, current Lodi students, alumni, community figures, friends, and family all came together to honor a Lodi legend by dedicating the court that he called home to him. To capture Coach Masopust’s legacy in words would be impossible, as no words could fully do justice to everything he has done for Lodi and its sports.

For 23 years, Coach Masopust brought a higher level of competition, professionalism, and fun to the Lodi girls’ basketball program. He also expanded his knowledge and love for sports during his time as head football coach for four years and assistant baseball coach for three years. While he is widely known as Coach, he was also a teacher in the Lodi school system for 32 years. Billy blessed so many lives in his time in Lodi with his witty, playful attitude, and huge, welcoming heart.

The ceremony opened with some touching words by our current athletic director, Pat Tirico, who called Masopust a great coach and an even greater friend. Coach Tirico then welcomed the superintendent of Lodi schools, Frank Quatrone, who also shared his love and praise for Coach Masopust. Lodi School Board President Dominic Miller took to the podium next. Miller spoke about the many lives that Masopust touched in his time at Lodi and went on to say that his impact is immeasurable.

Current girls’ basketball coach, Joe Romeo then took over. Romeo began by telling the crowd how he is upset about the fact that he wasn’t able to get to know Coach Masopust on a better level. Masopust retired just as Romeo’s career began. He went on to say how he set the bar high for coaching, especially when it came to girls’ basketball, and he hopes to one day be half the coach that Masopust was. At the end of the ceremony, Romeo awarded Masopust’s brother, Bruce Masopust, with a plaque of the court as a thank you from the Lodi community. Bruce then shared his gratitude. Teary-eyed, he looked around at Coach’s favorite place in the world, filled with all people who he loved and who loved him and said, “Thank you.” Bruce talked about Coach’s legacy and how he would be so humbled and honored by this court dedication.

The Rampage was fortunate to meet two former athletes of Coach Masopust, Ofeila Hechavarria and Santina Ingui. Hechavarria shared, “We used to call him dad; he was a huge father figure to all the girls. He was there for each and everyone of us and we loved him.”  Hechavarria, who graduated in 2002 and Ingui, who graduated in 2003, shared many memories and touching stories of their time with Coach. Ingui added, “He was more than a coach. Everything was more personal with him.”

I am sure Coach Masopust was looking down on his court and his loved ones Thursday night, smiling, as we showed him gratitude, love, and respect in his gym. The ceremony was indeed beautiful and was a perfect culmination of the legacy of and the love for Coach Billy Masopust.