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December 15, 2017

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2015 San Pedro Prep Softball Preview -

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Tiffany Torres Bears Down For Success At POLA High -

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San Pedro’s Rita Fiorenza Is A Basketball Revelation -

Thursday, January 15, 2015

‘No Lane Reductions’ As Gaffey Street Redevelopment Plans Move Forward -

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San Pedro Prep Sports 2014 Fall Review -

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

LAPD Harbor Division and Philie B’s Pizza To Host Charity Events This Weekend -

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

San Pedro Holiday Parade Returns Sunday with a Twist -

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Winter Wonderland Comes To The Waterfront -

Monday, December 1, 2014

One-Way Streets May Come to Downtown San Pedro -

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

San Pedro’s Two Newest Volleyball Skyscrapers: Allison Kittell & Tracy Folchi -

Monday, November 10, 2014

San Pedro and POLA Prep Girls Cross-Country Preview: Running For More Glory -

Thursday, November 6, 2014

International Craft Beer Festival Comes to Crafted This Weekend -

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Second Workshop for Urban Greening Project Receives Warm Reception from Community -

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Construction of Mixed-Use Apartment Complex on Gaffey Could Begin Next Spring -

Thursday, September 25, 2014

UPDATE: Blaze Inside Port of L.A. in Wilmington Nearly Contained; Air Quality Deemed ‘Safe’ -

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

San Pedro High Football Off To Another Strong Start -

Monday, September 22, 2014

An Appreciation: Prep Softball Coach Tony Dobra Retires

Softball coach Dobra (back row center) celebrates his 700th victory with the 2013 San Pedro High softball team on April 25, 2013. (photo: Jamaal K. Street)

A version of this story appeared in the July 2014 issue of San Pedro Today.

When Tony Dobra started his high school softball coaching career in 1981, not many expected what would follow, no one knew how long it would go, and many wouldn’t even come close to predicting how successful that career would be.

For what would soon follow was an amazing sight to behold.

Dobra would eventually become a household name when it came to being a prep softball coach for longevity and success. The 34-year coaching veteran has retired after posting a record of 728 wins, 185 losses and a draw, a staggering .796 winning percentage, with 25 league titles and 13 CIF-Los Angeles City Section championships while coaching at San Pedro and Mary Star of the Sea High School.

Dobra announced his retirement on Tuesday, May 27, days after the Pirates’ stunning loss to Polytechnic of Sun Valley, 5-4 in the first round of the City Section Division I playoffs on May 22.

“To have that type of success that I was fortunate enough to enjoy at both schools comes from talented student-athletes,” Dobra says. “Most of the girls start playing at a young age and continued developing their softball skills all the way up to and through high school. A good number of these players also went on to have successful collegiate careers.”

Dobra started his long career at Mary Star, and from 1981-86, he coached the Stars to four league titles posting a record of 102-27 (.648 win percentage). Some of the great players Dobra was able to coach during his time there included the likes of Jackie Carrolle, Patty Gomez, Michelle Ogle, Tiffany Carresi, Christine Bogdanovich-Vidovich, DeAnn Papadakis, Shawn Brunson and Anne Ibarra-Bobich.

Coach Tony Dobra (photo: Jamaal K. Street)

Coach Tony Dobra (photo: Jamaal K. Street)

Current Mary Star coach Gregg Aguilar offers his thoughts on Dobra’s extraordinary impact he had over all of San Pedro. “Thirty-four years of coaching our great sport is quite an accomplishment in itself, but to have the kind of success Tony has had is amazing,” Aguilar says. “It takes the perfect balance of good coaching, a high-level motivator and a personality that young ladies want to play for. All those qualities are very evident in the way girls grew up dreaming of the chance to play at Pedro and for Coach Dobra.”

Dobra, a San Pedro High School alumnus of 1974, would come back to his alma mater to take over the softball program in 1987, and from there, Pirate softball would skyrocket to stardom.

In his 28 years coaching the Pirates, all alongside longtime assistant Allan ‘Doc’ Moore, San Pedro posted a dazzling record of 626-158-1 overall (a monster .798 winning percentage), winning the Marine League or Southern Pacific Conference championship an astonishing 21 times. Dobra led San Pedro to 17 CIF-Los Angeles City Section Division I finals, 13 of his teams won the championship.

“Tony Dobra is the face of San Pedro softball,” Port of Los Angeles High coach Melissa Bugarin-Espinoza says. “The success of that high school is completely his. Many softball athletes have gone to San Pedro just for the chance to play for him. His impression in the South Bay for softball will have a lasting impact for many more generations.”

The run from 2000-09 was Dobra’s best as he guided San Pedro to a decade of dominance that would be tough to duplicate. His team reached the City Section title game every year, winning nine championships in ten appearances. Dobra was named the 2009 Cal-Hi Sports State Coach Of The Year after his Pirates capped off the decade with his 13th City title, a dramatic 7-6 comeback victory over Banning at UCLA.

“We won 281 games, lost 28 and tied once,” Dobra recalls. “That run also included beating Carson five straight times in the championship game and defeating Banning twice. Many of the girls on those teams received softball scholarships to play in college.”

Some of those famous names from that marvelous decade includes: Natalie Tam, Wynter Turner, Stephanie Spychaj, Kate Groden, Perelini Koria, Taylor Petty, Korin & Kailee Cuico, Katelyn & Chloe Oro, Holly Stevens, Jessica Robles, Stephanie Tam, Jackie Conlin, Koral Costa, Hannah DeGaetano, Marissa Gonzalez and perhaps his greatest talent of them all, four-time City champion Ashley Esparza.

“Dobra will forever be the face of San Pedro softball,” says Esparza, who along with Spychaj currently coaches at Los Angeles Harbor College. “He is more than a just a coach, but a mentor, leader and overall great person. Having played at every possible level, I can truly say that he is one of the best I have ever had coach me.”

One of Dobra’s greatest joys coaching at San Pedro was his first championship team of 1992, when the Pirates rallied to defeat Banning, 3-2 in 15 innings.

“That team will always have a special place in my memories,” Dobra says. “Petrina Martinez pitched out of a bases loaded, no out situation in extra innings to give us an opportunity to win in the 15th. Victoria Brucker, Melissa Elgin, Michelle Harper and Diane Marshal were some of the talented players that helped us capture that title.”

Koria, Turner, Kailee Cuico and Costa were four players Dobra produced that went on to play in the NCAA Women’s College World Series, with Cuico and Costa help guiding Oregon to the WCWS in June 2014. Esparza and Brucker are two players he coached that are on San Pedro’s Sportswalk to the Waterfront.

Dobra’s greatest game as San Pedro’s coach occurred on May 23 and 24, 2000, where the Pirates battled Carson to a stalemate for two days and 20 innings for the City Section title. San Pedro eventually squeaked out a 1-0 victory.

“There are a few things that stand out in that game for me,” Dobra says. “Carson had a powerful offensive lineup, and the fact that Natalie Tam shut them out for 20 innings is truly amazing. Despite being stiff, sore and tired after pitching 16 innings the day before, she asked to go back in the circle and finish the game. Also, Kate Groden and Caitlin Felando both made great defensive plays during the game.”

Dobra’s final team in 2014 at San Pedro finished 21-9 overall, placed second in the Marine League and won the Whittier Tournament championship. His San Pedro teams won the Downey Tournament twice, and the El Segundo Tournament four times.

The legacy Dobra leaves behind will not be forgotten by his players, not only as a coach, but as an English teacher.

“Dobra always told us to put education first, and make sure we remember we’re student-athletes,” says San Pedro soon-to-be senior catcher Alexa Ponce. “He genuinely cared about us and about our lives outside of softball. He was our ‘Uncle Tony’ and he definitely left a mark on my life.”

Comments
One Response to “An Appreciation: Prep Softball Coach Tony Dobra Retires”
  1. Jenny S. says:

    I had the privilege of playing for Coach Dobra
    on his very first girls softball team at Mary Star in the Spring of 1981. It
    turned out that I was one of the “least talented” players on the
    team, but Tony always treated me with respect and exercised great patience when
    coaching me. He was was an excellent coach and teacher (and often
    sarcastic – one of his most endearing qualities, depending on the day), and
    sincerely cared about each person. In fact, without my knowledge, at the end of
    my senior year, he was instrumental is getting me into a UC school, a fact
    which I discovered well into my first year of college!!! I am sorry to
    hear his coaching career has come to an end, but glad to see he is going out on
    such a high note. My son will be starting his first year of high school
    at SPHS next month, and I hope he will be able to have the opportunity to be
    taught by Coach Dobra. Congrats, Tony!

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