Doretti Ends His Banner Career at Los Alamitos : Preps: Retiring athletic director arrived at school in 1968 as football coach and has been AD since 1972.


Pride filled Frank Doretti recently as he stood near half court and surveyed the numerous championship banners adorning the gym walls at Los Alamitos High.

They are different in size, shape and color, yet represent a central theme: success. And at the core of all these accomplishments is Doretti, the Griffins’ longtime, seemingly tireless athletic director.

The affable, silver-haired Doretti has been the hub of Los Alamitos athletics for more than 25 years--or almost before there was anything at the school worth mentioning. Considering this, some might mistake that wide smile Doretti often flashes as gratuitous boasting.


His expression, however, means otherwise.

It is the appearance of a person content; pleased with the accomplishments of a career spent developing young people and proud to have had the opportunity.

Many display the look, Doretti is among the few deserving.

“Frank’s name is synonymous with Los Alamitos athletics,” said football Coach John Barnes, who will succeed Doretti in the fall. “When certain guys have been around long enough and done enough good things like him, you always remember them.”

After 34 years of readying facilities, roaming sidelines and deftly juggling the quirkiest challenges--even spot landscaping--that pop up continually in high school sports, Doretti, 56, hung up his clipboard and whistle for the final time at Los Alamitos on Tuesday. And while the lifelong Orange County resident is ready for some relaxation, he will remain on the go despite taking things more slowly.

Doretti’s next challenge begins today when he and his wife, Burma, take off for Finland.

He is among a growing number of coaches who coach American football abroad during the summer. He will lead a team in the town of Kouvola, located northeast of Helsinki, until Sept. 3. From there they will travel to Munich, Germany, to speak with a group trying to organize a football team.

They return home for a brief stop Sept. 23 before loading up the motor home and hitting the road. They have children and grandchildren throughout the country and, for a change, the time to spend with them.

When Griffin athletes return to school in the fall, they will not be in Doretti’s charge for the first time in more than two decades. Moreover, Los Alamitos no longer will have the leadership of a guy who was there before its doors opened.

“It’s just starting to set in that I won’t be back,” Doretti said. “I’ve been real lucky to work with a great group of coaches who have been together for a long time, and some fine young (people).


“I’m starting to get a little nostalgic already. I know it’s going to hit me hard later on.”

Doretti was among the school’s inaugural faculty in 1968. He arrived on campus with a passion for working with youngsters, boundless energy and a knack for being organized--traits that continued through the final day of his tenure.

He was the school’s first football coach, leading the Griffins from 1968-73. It was a job for which he was well prepared.

Doretti was a standout at Anaheim High and started at center and linebacker for California in 1958-59. He played in the 1959 Rose Bowl, in which Iowa defeated Cal, 38-12.

After graduating from Cal in 1960, Doretti coached football at Servite (1960-62), Anaheim (1963) and Kennedy (1964-67). By 1968, he was ready for a new challenge. Building the Los Alamitos program was the right fit.

“It was exciting,” Doretti said. “(The teachers and coaches) were all young and enthusiastic.”

But things did not just slide into place. Actually, Doretti seemed to need a bigger shoe horn every minute during those early days.

That first group was composed of 10th graders, many of whom had little or no football knowledge. They were eager--but far from ready. Doretti and his staff had to start from scratch.

“My experience really helped because we had to go back to Square 1,” Doretti said. “We had to teach everybody how to do everything from putting on pads to tying shoes.”

And then there was the yardwork .

The Griffins’ facilities were not completed the first year, so the football team practiced at the nearby Los Alamitos Armed Forces Reserve Center. Only one problem: The practice “field” was devoid of grass, but had large rocks in abundance.

Coaches, players and parents banded together to clear the area. One of Doretti’s assistants watered the ground each day for an hour before practice to try and limit the dust-bowl effect.

“That field was something,” Doretti said. “You just wouldn’t believe the dust.”

Doretti became the Griffins’ second athletic director in 1972. He resigned as head coach of the football team in 1973 to concentrate on his administrative duties, but remained as an assistant.

Results indicate Doretti has worn both hats well.

The Griffins’ defensive coordinator, Doretti is a big reason Los Alamitos has won three consecutive Southern Section championships.

“How he prepares his defense is just amazing,” Barnes said. “We are always just perfect on defense. He never leaves a stone unturned.”

This approach works in his other position, too.

Los Alamitos was honored June 15 with The Times Orange County All-Sports Award for being the dominant large school in athletics this year. Doretti’s organization and dedication, many said, was a key to the success.

“I’ve always prided myself on being organized,” Doretti said. “I just did a little bit each day so that I didn’t slight either job.”

The new athletic director hopes he has half as successful a run.

“I told him to leave all his papers for me,” said Barnes. “He always had everything ready. He made it look so easy.”