Shared grief at high school title game

  • Cardinal Newman coach Paul Cronin during practice at Cardinal Newman High School, Thursday December 11, 2008.

When the two coaches meet on the field tonight before the game, as football tradition dictates, it will be an interaction so burdened with unspoken meaning that Paul Cronin and Herc Pardi pray they never will have to do it again.

?I guess my first instinct will be to hug him,? said Pardi, head coach at Clayton Valley high school in Concord.

And then what will he say to Cronin, head coach at Cardinal Newman high just north of Santa Rosa ? ?I don?t have the words,? Pardi said.

Newman moves on to finals


Words fail. How could they not? ?Sorry for your loss? doesn?t quite seem to cover it.

On Nov. 26, the day before Thanksgiving, Cronin?s brother David, a Sonoma County Sheriff?s lieutenant, took his own life with a handgun.

On Dec. 5, a week ago Friday afternoon, about an hour after David Cronin was laid to rest in Santa Rosa, Pardi?s brother John died of a heart attack in Oakland.

And as if Cronin needed any more on his plate, his two-year daughter, Madison, has been hospitalized with pneumonia since Wednesday, with Cronin and his wife Tracey passing in the night as they attend to their daughter at Memorial Hospital.

?I am hoping she can be released in time to go to the game,? said Cronin, 35.

Oh yes, the game, that detail Cardinal Newman and Clayton Valley, both with 12-0 records, will be playing tonight for the high school North Coast Section Division II title at Santa Rosa High School. With a win, Cardinal Newman likely would advance to the California state championship game.

?It?s almost unbearable,? Pardi , 56 said of the shared pain of the deaths, though the immediacy of the game provides some relief. ?Both of us are lucky we have some insulation right now for that has kept us from thinking non-stop about our losses.?

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