Legendary SMHS Coach Dies of Cancer

Maureen Bryant Former SMHS Tennis Coach
Maureen Bryant
Former SMHS Tennis Coach

Former San Marino High School teacher and legendary tennis coach Maureen Bryant died of cancer on Tuesday, Jan. 8, the school has announced.
Bryant began teaching at SMHS in 1963 and went on to become one of the school’s most beloved and respected teachers during a four-decade tenure.
Retired SMHS Principal Mary Johnson worked with Bryant on state testing for years and witnessed firsthand Bryant’s commitment to education and students.
“Maureen exemplified all that is good about educators,” Johnson told The Outlook in an email. “She cared that students had the right environment to do their best on high-stakes testing and refined our testing conditions year by year for optimal student comfort and performance. She, together with her husband, Roger, was the ultimate team player. I always knew we were a team, but Maureen was definitely the coach with her positive and humorous ways that made slogging through days of testing not quite as arduous.
“Maureen was wicked smart, organized, and above all, caring,” Johnson added. “She was a rock as a colleague and friend, yet no one could surpass her qualities known as ‘soft skills.’ Teachers at the high school could be overheard saying that when they grew up, they wanted to be Maureen. She was truly someone we could all do well to emulate.”
It didn’t take long for Bryant to get into coaching at SMHS and she eventually established herself as one of the best in the CIF Southern Section with a total of 14 tennis championships. She guided the girls’ tennis team to a CIF-SS title in 1975 and went on to capture seven more, in 1982, 1983, 1985, 1986, 1987, 1988 and 1998. Bryant also took the reins of the boys’ tennis program and delivered six more CIF-SS crowns (1992, 1996, 1997, 1998, 1999 and 2000).
“Maureen Bryant was one of the educational and athletic leaders at San Marino High School,” said SMHS Athletic Director David Irie in an email. “I watched her mentor and guide many tennis players who needed her wisdom and understanding. She was always patient and never seemed to get upset. Maureen and Mickey McNamee have set the bar for all current and future San Marino teachers and coaches to achieve.” Longtime baseball coach McNamee died in 2014.
Bryant’s success didn’t go unnoticed: She was inducted into the California Coaches Association Hall of Fame in 2015.
Will Moravec began coaching tennis at La Cañada High School in 1992 and faced Bryant for eight seasons. He said he respected her as a coach and person for the way she treated her players and competition.
“She was always a great person,” Moravec said. “We’ve only defeated San Marino once in my tenure, but they have always respected us and played us with a full team. Indirectly, that was a sign of respect she was giving us. She never took us lightly, even with her great CIF-winning teams. She was also very fair. If she felt one of her players did something wrong, she was the first one to point it out. She wasn’t a win-at-all-cost coach. She did it for the right reasons.”
Current SMHS boys’ and girls’ tennis coach Melwin Pereira contacted Bryant often to seek advice or talk to her about the CIF-SS Division 1 rankings. According to Pereira, Bryant was part of the committee to determine the top teams in the division.
“First thing she would say is, ‘How are you? How is your knee? How is your hip?’” Pereira said. “That’s the kind of person she was. There’s a plaque on court No. 1 dedicated to her for all of her CIF championships. I would ask her how is it even possible to win that many. In my lifetime, it’s impossible. But she would also give me advice, especially when I began coaching at San Marino. She had been helping me. She’s definitely one of the people I’d call if anything is wrong for advice. She would give great advice because she was so experienced.”
Former San Marino teacher Cari Hall also remembers her fondly as a kind person on and off campus.
“Words that come to mind when thinking of Maureen: kind, generous, thoughtful, cheerful, encouraging, loyal and steadfast,” Hall wrote in an email. “When [SMHS counselor] Dorothy Pallas was ill and hospitalized for several months, Maureen was an ever-present friend and caregiver. She gave her best to every situation. She remained modest about her accomplishments, never brought attention to herself. She was a quiet presence who was loved by all who knew her. We have lost one of the world’s dearest beings.”

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