Joel Schaeffer, who coached football at Reseda High for 23 years and taught in the Los Angeles Unified School District for 40 years, died on Sunday at his home in Canoga Park from complications of cancer, according to a school official. He was 70.
Schaeffer retired from coaching after the 2000 season. The school named its field after him. His teams won a City Section 2-A championship in 1986 and a 3-A title in 1995.
He was the founder of Reseda’s police academy magnet program. He retired from teaching in 2005 and had been playing lots of golf and card games.
He was a member of Cleveland High’s first graduating class in 1960. He played football at Pierce College and Cal State Northridge, where he was inducted into the athletic Hall of Fame in 2001.
He was known for his witty, old-fashion sayings and embraced “three-yards-and-a-cloud-of-dust football.”
“One of the most important things I learned from coach was that I needed to know how important it was to help these kids become young men,” said Reseda Coach Alonso Arreola, who played for Schaeffer. “And that we had to find ways to use football as a resource to accomplish that goal.”
Schaeffer coached two of his three sons at Reseda in football and all three in swimming.
“Coaching football for my father was more than Xs and Os,” said his son, Scott, who played quarterback. “It was a conduit to reach young men who didn’t have a father figure because he lost his at a young age. He had a huge heart.”
Schaeffer is survived by his wife, Nancy; brother Mark and sons Scott, Joel and Tim.
Funeral arrangements are pending.
— Eric Sondheimer