DRAPER, Utah — After 18 seasons at the helm, the recently-retired head football coach of Juan Diego Catholic High School got a homecoming welcome that few coaches ever get.
The beloved coach was honored Friday night as the football field got a new name: John Colosimo Field at Soaring Eagle Stadium.
After retiring five years ago, Coach Colosimo came back to receive the honor of a career.
Under the Friday night lights in Draper, Juan Diego prides itself on academics, community and spirit.
First opening in 1999, it was a small school with a blank slate — athletic records that were empty and had to be made.
Coach John Colosimo took the helm of the Soaring Eagle football team for the inaugural season and stayed for 17 more.
"We're very successful on the football field. No doubt about it," Colosimo said Friday night. "It's been a great journey. I'm just very proud."
It was a career that landed Colosimo in the National High School Football Hall of Fame in 2014, being named the "Best of State" high school coach in 2019, induction into the Utah High School Sports Hall of Fame, and eight division state football championships.
"Thrilled to coach those kids and how wonderful they were, their families were," Colosimo recalled. "It's just been a great experience."
Despite those honors, the coach said the real wins were the ones off the field.
"I always say football's our seventh class of the day," he said. "So everything you have to do with math and science have to be down. You have to be on time, you have to have your uniform on, you have to have done your assignments — that's the same thing on the football field."
He said he measures his true success by that of his former players.
"He's everything to this program and to the school," said Tana Vea, a former member of the Juan Diego team. "[He] built it from the ground up, here from the beginning and built this football program to what they are today, established the core values and the standards."
"They really appreciated his take on teamwork," added Lars Gunderson, another former player of Colosimo's.
Colosimo estimates he has coached over 1,000 athletes during his years on the sidelines, and countless more will one day play on the field that now bears his name.