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Tom Hamilton Gymnasium

Tom Hamilton Gymnasium

Tom Hamilton
April 21, 1929 - March 13, 2004

The main gymnasium at Pasadena High School bear's Tom Hamilton's name, a tribute to his success as our longtime football coach and athletic director.

"He'd do anything to help you out. He won just about everything you can win as far as a high school coach. Yet the concept of the football coach is such a minute part (of who he was). He elevated all the standards." - Gary Griffiths, an assistant under Hamilton for 13 years who succeeded him as football coach in 1984.

Tom Hamilton served as our head football coach for 24 years. During his tenure, his teams won more than 100 games and numerous league titles. He could not recite his win-loss record nor would he mention many of the awards bestowed upon him. When asked, he would often tell people to write about his student athletes, not about him. The outcome of the games was secondary to Tom Hamilton. He was a throwback to a bygone era when it truly mattered how you played the game.  This was more important to him than whether or not his team won. 

"It's the end of an era for all of us. He was just the most unforgettable person I've ever met.  The most principled.  I think the thing that sticks most in my mind was his concept of you play by the rules to win.  Everything was done the right way.  So many other coaches were unscrupulous.  He set an example for all of us coaches to follow." - Gary Griffiths.

"The coach I respected most was Tom Hamilton. He had such high integrity. More than anything else he was a great person. He was a person of high character and great motivational skills for his kids." - Dick Salter, former Arcadia High School football coach.

Born in Pasadena, he attended Washington Elementary School, Washington Junior High, Pasadena High School and Pasadena Junior College.  He was a talented athlete while attending Pasadena High School and Pasadena Junior College.  He was an outstanding pitcher while at Pasadena High School and many believed he could have played professional baseball. He received a football scholarship to USC after his freshman year at PJC.  Though, his playing career was cut short when he suffered a severe concussion. He received his degree from USC and also served in the United States Navy from 1952 - 1954.

After his discharge from the United States Navy he tried his hand at coaching. He began helping Dick Simmons, coach at PHS. He liked coaching and teaching and began teaching at Elliot Junior High School in 1954. He was an assistant coach at PHS until the school moved to it's current location in 1960. At that time, he became the head coach.  His first year was not good, but things did get much better.

Under his guidance, PHS was known as a powerhouse in the 1960's. His Bulldogs remained one of the top programs in the San Gabriel Valley until he retired from coaching after the 1983 season. During his time as head coach, his Turkey Tussle record against John Muir High School was 16-7-1. During the years 1962 - 1975 his Turkey Tussle record was 12-2. His teams won nine straight Turkey Tussles from 1967-1975. Four of those games were shutouts and during this time the Bulldogs outscored the Mustangs 218-48. 

"They were always up there. If they didn't win the league, they were very close.  They were always in every game.  He ran wishbone for a while, he ran an unbalanced line like Michigan State, he ran the veer for a while, the I formation.  He would adjust to the personnel he had. When he had a good quarterback, he'd run the option.  That's why Tom did so well. He utilized his people well.  Even if you lost to him you felt good, because he was such a good person". - Dick Salter.

Hamilton's teams never won a CIF Southern Section Championship, but the playoffs during his tenure were much tougher than  they are today.  There were only four divisions and Pasadena High School played in the largest.  During much of his career, only league champions qualified for the playoffs. The Bulldogs lost twice in the semifinals. Once to Bishop Amat and once to Santa Monica. Many of his players went on to play college football and at least five enjoyed careers in the NFL. 

After he retired from coaching, he remained at Pasadena High School as the Athletic Director. When he retired in 1991, the main gymnasium at Pasadena High School was named in his honor. 

The Tom Hamilton Award is given annually to the top two-sport athlete at Pasadena High School.