Coach, friend, mentor, colleague.
Mike Kodama has meant a great deal to many who have come in contact with him during his three decades heading the Burroughs High boys’ soccer program.
After leading the Indians to multiple league championships, CIF Southern Section appearances, including one trip to a final, and helping develop thousands of athletes, Kodama had to step away from his coaching duties prior to the 2019-20 season because of health issues.
A group of individuals who owe Kodama a deep gratitude, others who admire him and some whose lives have been touched by the coach, came together Thursday to say thank-you.
Following the final regular-season match against rival Burbank, a tribute was held for Kodama at a place where many of his finest moments in coaching took place — Memorial Field.
In attendance were former players, some from as far back as Kodama’s first season in 1987, opposing coaches, Burroughs coaches and administrators, friends, family and city dignitaries. Kodama was presented with a City of Burbank proclamation and several mementos thanking him for his years of service and dedication to young student-athletes.
“First of all, I’m overwhelmed and very humbled by all of you taking the time to be here,” Kodama told the crowd. “From the bottom of my heart, thank you ... what a great honor. It means a great deal to me to see all the people who showed up for this today.
“I think the important thing for me was taking the sport and turning it into life lessons. Just having all these guys come back, it means the world to me. It also means that the lessons that we talked about when we were here in high school, here at Burroughs, stuck.”
During Kodama’s 30-year tenure, the Indians captured 11 league titles — in the Pacific League and Foothill League — and his squad advanced to the Division III championship game in 1994. Also, his Burroughs players have garnered 35 All-CIF honors under his tutelage.
In addition, he won 356 games, notched 184 league victories and his teams qualified for the playoffs 19 times.
Last season, the Indians captured the Pacific League title.
Kodama was inducted into the Burroughs Athletic Hall of Fame in 2009.
Although Kodama stepped aside, his son, Mitchell, has taken over the daily duties with the team this season. However, the elder Kodama has attended his share of Burroughs matches.
In typical Mike Kodama fashion, he was barking instructions from the Burroughs bench during Thursday’s game. And in typical Burroughs fashion, the Indians earned a 4-0 victory.