During his three-year tenure as the Bellarmine-Jefferson High softball coach, Florencio Galindo accomplished something that is rare among coaches at the school, or in the city for that matter.
Galindo was at the helm in 2013 when the Guards captured the CIF Southern Section Division VI championship. It was only the third CIF title at Bell-Jeff in any sport (girls’ basketball won titles in 1997 and 2009) and only the second softball crown in city history (Burbank won a title in 1975). In addition, it was just the fourth CIF title by a city team in 20 years (Burbank boys’ tennis secured a title in 1993).
Galindo announced Monday that he was leaving the program.
“It was just time. Nothing bad or anything,” Galindo said. “I just felt that I had done all that I could for the program and that it was my time to step down. It’s always hard to leave a program and I hope I was able to help build something at Bell-Jeff.
“It made my decision a little easier that most of the girls have graduated and only two girls who started with me will be back. It was also tough at times at the school, going through three athletic directors and two principles in three years.”
The Guards lost seven seniors to graduation, six being starters.
“I have been lucky to have had great coaches with me,” Galindo said. “And just all the great girls that I have been able to coach over the years has been a great experience for me. The girls can be proud of what they accomplished. I was just the coach; they were the ones who did all the work.”
New Bell-Jeff athletic director Fred Martinez said what Galindo and his staff were able to accomplish at the school is remarkable.
“As a Bell-Jeff alumni and now the athletic director, I told him how much we appreciate what he has done for the school,” Martinez said. “He really helped secure the foundation for the of the program and he was able to accomplish some great things. He did a great job with the players and they always seemed to be on the same page.
“For him to be able to bring a CIF title to Bell-Jeff and the Burbank community is outstanding. CIF titles are hard to come by in the city and he was able to win one for Bell-Jeff.”
Galindo took over for John Castaneda prior to the 2012 season and he stepped into a prime situation, as the Guards had advanced, but lost, in the Division VII championship game in 2011. During his three years, Galindo compiled a 61-21-4 record, his team captured three straight Santa Cruz League championships, the Guards reached the Division VII title game in 2012, won a Division VI crown in 2003 and advanced to the Division VI semifinals in 2014.
“That CIF championship is always going to stand out,” said Galindo, whose daughter, Tiffany, was among the players who graduated from this past season’s squad and will play at Calumet College of St. Joseph in Indiana. “To win that is just incredible.
“But we were really upset that we didn’t win it all again this season. That was really some unfinished business for us and we all felt we should have made it to the championship again.”
Behind league player of the year Mia Acosta and a host of talented players, the Guards went 7-1 in league (losing via forfeit) in 2014 to capture their fifth straight league championship. The Guards (15-5-2) sliced through the Santa Cruz League, winning all their played games in relatively easy fashion. The closest any opponent could get to earning a victory came May 13, when St. Pius X-St. Matthias Academy played the Guards to a 6-2 loss.
Bell-Jeff, which was seeded No. 1 in the CIF Southern Section Division VI playoffs and was the defending champion, used its league success to catapult it into the postseason. The Guards defeated Liberty Christian, 21-2, Alverno, 5-2, and St. Monica, 1-0, to advance to the semifinals. In the final four, Bell-Jeff lost to Cantwell Sacred Heart, 5-3. Cantwell lost to St. Bonaventure in the final, 4-3.
Under Galindo and paced by All-CIF Player of the Year Monique Landini, the Guards made history in 2013, as they defeated Mary Star of the Sea, 8-4, to secure the Division VI championship at Deanna Manning Stadium in Irvine. The Guard finished the season with a 23-10 record.