First published in the Dec. 2 print issue of the Outlook Valley Sun.
Humility, respect, class, culture, character, father figure, grit, brotherhood, generous, selfless.
These are just a few words from family members, former and current players, and staff members used to describe the legacy of former St. Francis High School head coach Jim Bonds, who passed away from complications of multiple myeloma last October.
Jim Bonds’ family members, who have been huge supporters since his SFHS hiring in 2000, came to cheer the program he helmed for 20 years and were overwhelmingly thrilled with the Golden Knights’ accomplishments this season.
“We’re just so proud of the boys. They wanted to win this for Jimmy and it’s just been an honor for our family to be here at Jim Bonds Stadium,” said Tricia Bonds, Jim Bonds’ widow.
“He did this job for these kids. He was very competitive but it wasn’t all about him; it was about the kids. He loved his job and he was so humble about it,” she added.
“He did this for 20 years, he won and it never went to his head. He knew that football teaches these young men about life and that’s what he loved. I think that’s why I’m seeing so many of these kids that I’ve known for 20 years.”
Seemingly every Golden Knights player and staff member carried Jim Bonds’ spirit and memory with them on the gridiron, showing the utmost class after being defeated by visiting Long Beach Poly 38-7 in the CIF-SS Division 4 championship last Saturday.
“[Jim Bonds’] program was all about class. You have to be able to win with class and lose with class,” said Dean Herrington, St. Francis’ head coach.
It was a noteworthy and honorable night, from the “JB” stickers on St. Francis’ golden helmets to playing the school’s first CIF championship since 2017 in the newly named Jim Bonds Stadium. It was especially memorable for the seniors that had the privilege to play under the winningest football coach in school history.
“Coach Bonds was like a father to me,” said senior running back Max Garrison. “I made him a promise that we would win a CIF championship together and it definitely hurts coming up just short, but I hope he’s proud of me and proud of this team. This one hurts.”
Senior linebacker Myles Shannon, who played under Bonds his sophomore season, said it was a surreal experience to play a football final in the newly named stadium.
“We do everything for him, we still pray for him and we still remember his name,” Shannon said. “Everything we do through this program is always going to be for Jim Bonds.”
Former star running back Dietrich Riley, who started all four years of his varsity career under Bonds spanning from 2006-09 and earned a scholarship to UCLA, was in attendance to show his support for the school, the team and his former head coach’s legacy. He said it was remarkable to watch the Golden Knights rebound and overcome so many obstacles, from losing their head coach to playing during a pandemic-shortened season.
“I felt we brought in the right leader to carry on Jim Bonds’ legacy with Coach Herrington having a close relationship with Coach Bonds. I felt like he was the right person for this program to move forward and carry on his legacy,” Riley said. “He was like a father figure to me and many other people here. He was just a great, great leader. He always instilled great values in us, taught us a lot of life lessons. Coach Bonds was a big factor on why we were able to succeed outside of football and in life.”
The late coach’s son, James Bonds, and SFHS assistant coach Patrick Carroll said one of Jim Bonds’ favorite days included Thanksgiving — not only for the quality family time but also for Thanksgiving football practice.
“Jimmy is up in heaven smiling and thrilled for the program that we made it to the finals,” Carroll said. “Most people know about Jim. He was a dear man, a great friend, just a loving, generous, selfless guy. I miss him every day.”