Retired Yosemite High School teacher/coach Ellen Peterson was honored Tuesday night with the CIF Distinguished Service Award.
The award was presented at the April 4 CIF Central Section Board of Managers meeting in Porterville, in recognition of her 40-year coaching career at Yosemite and her years of service as the co-director of the California State Cross Country Championships.
Peterson was league Coach of the Year twice in softball and five times for girls basketball. She was named Coach of the Year for the Central Section twice - for D-III and D-V and was a California Track & Field Honoree in 1990.
After taking over the cross country program in 1986, she led the girls team to 24 league titles, and her boys team finished first or second in league for 29 consecutive years. She was named Madera County Teacher of the Year in 1999 and was named Yosemite High Teacher of the Year by students numerous times.
Peterson was nominated for the award by retired YHS teacher/coach and district superintendent Steve Raupp, who is currently serving as the North Area Supervisor for the Central Section.
Raupp called Peterson one of the most outstanding coaches he had the opportunity to work with.
“Her 40-year career at Yosemite is an impressive accomplishment, and she left as the winningest coach in the history of the school,” Raupp said. “But what is most impressive is the positive influence she had on the lives of the thousands of students and athletes who she worked with over the years.”
Yosemite High Athletic Director Rusty Oetinger said the honor for Peterson was well deserved for her 40 years of service and dedication to students and athletes at the school.
“The entire staff at YHS and the community was very privileged to have Ellen at YHS for 40 years,” Oetinger said.
The honor came with a bonus - a “Golden Ticket” that provides Peterson free admission for life to any CIF sporting event in the state, including VIP seating at championship events.
“Remember the ‘Golden Ticket’ in Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory? This is way better than that,” Peterson said.