Paloma Valley, Esposito Honored as 'Champions for Character'

Paloma Valley High School was one of only two schools in the 579-member CIF Southern Section hono...

Paloma Valley High School was one of only two schools in the 579-member CIF Southern Section honored this year with the 10th annual Champions for Character Award.

In addition, varsity football coach Bert Esposito (right) was one of just six coaches selected to receive the award, which recognizes positive examples of the CIF's 16 principles of coaching, competing and teaching, known as "Pursing Victory With Honor." Selected student-athletes, coaches, administrators, officials and schools are recognized for displaying these qualities.

Criteria in selection for the award includes display of good sportsmanship; zero tolerance for bullying or cheating; treating everyone with respect; and reinforcing positive values during practices and games.

"Our job is to create students who are a productive and positive addition to our society," said Paloma Valley principal Don Williamson. "This recognition helps reinforce our belief that we are on the right track. We have a tremendous group of young people."

Over the 10 years of the program, 42 different schools have been honored with the Champions of Character Award in recognition of the overall character and conduct of their athletes. Paloma Valley athletic director Michael Pfeiffer, who is also the school's boys basketball coach, acknowledged the importance of this award.

"Winning is important, but it is not all important," he said. "We want to focus on the process and doing what's right for the young men and women in our programs. When we focus on that process, the wins will take care of themselves."

Esposito's teams have displayed both the ability to win games and treat opponents with respect during his 10 years as the school's football coach. He also coaches the boys track team. Upon the announcement of his award, Esposito received numerous congratulations from both current and former players via Facebook.

"Wow, thank you guys so much," Esposito responded on Facebook. "It is quite an honor and I am very humbled by it. I love what I do and I love all the kids and people I have been associated with over the years. Thanks."

Award recipients will be honored during a dinner Sept. 29 in the Grand Salon of the Queen Mary in Long Beach.