Catholic Diocese of Spokane, Washington
Official News Magazine of the Diocese of Spokane
P.O. Box 48, Spokane WA 99210
(509) 358-7340; FAX: (509) 358-7302
Sam Compogno honored for long-time dedication to children in sports
by Jami LeBrun, Inland Register staff
(From the June 10, 2004 edition of the Inland Register)
Sam Compogno receives his award from Bishop Skylstad during ceremonies recently at St. Aloysius School. Compogno devoted some 25 years to the cause of athletics in Catholic schools in the Spokane Diocese. (IR photo from St. Aloysius School)
Sam Compogno has been on the sidelines of nearly every Catholic elementary and middle school athletic event in Spokane. In fact, aside from a two-week Christmas vacation, he never missed a single game in 25 years.
“It didn’t matter if I was sick or well,” he said. “I never missed a ball game.”
Compogno’s dedicated service was recognized on Thursday, May 20 when he received the Bishop’s Award from Bishop Skystad, honoring Compogno’s 25 years of service to the children of the Spokane Diocese.
Compogno retired in his early 50s due to disability. Shortly after, he began to coach baseball at St. Aloysius School and quickly became athletic director. Not long after, he found himself coordinating all the athletic programs for Spokane Catholic elementary and middle schools.
Compogno was the head of the Knights of Columbus Athletic Council, founded nearly 30 years ago by KC Council 1507 to provide athletic programs for Catholic elementary and middle schools in the diocese. The council raised all the money and provided all the funding to get the programs going. Compogno, an avid sports fan himself, got involved 25 years ago and built the program into what he believes is “one of the best athletic programs in the city.”
As head of the council Compogno scheduled games and officials, booked fields, and made sure all the schools had enough funding to ensure successful seasons for football, baseball, basketball and track.
Compogno also did his fair share of coaching.
“I coached any team that didn’t have a coach,” he said. “You can’t have a team without a coach.”
Compogno believes that all schools should have sports programs, regardless of their status or funding. He allowed any private schools that wanted to participate into the program, including private schools such as St. George, St. Michael and Northwest Christian.
Compogno says that athletics are “one of the most wonderful things about going to school.”
“Kids are in school nearly seven hours a day and never get to go outside and throw a ball around. They can’t just study, study, study all day. There has to be a break. They need an outlet,” he said.
He turns 77 in two months. Failing health forced him to retire yet again last year, this time from the athletics programs he loves. He misses the activity and the time he spent with the kids in Spokane.
“If it wasn’t for the aging and that I’m not in the best of shape anymore, I never would have quit,” he said.
Though he cannot be the visible figure he once was, Compogno still believes he has made a mark.
“I’m proud of the program and think I did a good job,” he said. “Sports are a part of school and the kids are wonderful. They love the competition and they want to win.”
Compogno’s presence is certainly missed by many of the people with whom he worked most closely.
Doug Banks is principal of St. Thomas More School in Spokane and current Principal Chair of the Catholic School Athletic Director Council.
“In this day and age you don’t find his kind of selfless dedication,” said Banks. “Everyone seems to be in it for themselves and he wasn’t. He was in it for everyone but himself. He’s a great guy and he worked very hard.
“His main focus,” said Banks, “was always the kids.”