35 years for coach Mazzotta


Football head coach Frank Mazzotta standing out in the Falcon football stadium. He noted that his life centers around football and was truly an inspiration in his life.

Reaching 35 years of coaching at Cerritos College, head coach Frank Mazzotta has encountered many experiences in his life, ranging from finding his passion for football in his youth to the National Football League and scholarship offers, and he was the catalyst for change in the football program that resulted into what one sees today.

Mazzotta arrived at Cerritos College in 1978 and sparked immediate change for the football program, as his first year resulted in a championship.

“I felt this program could be something. It was really going south. The most wins the team had in the last 10 years was four.”

Mazzotta first started coaching at the University of Utah, a school he played football for.

Prior to coaching, he played football at El Rancho High School, including two California Interscholastic Federations Championship teams, and Long Beach City College, one National Championship team.

“Football was the reason I did anything,” he said.

Scholarships were offered from schools like UCLA, but Mazzotta did not feel ready to go the four year route and opted for community college.


Mazzotta has been preaching influence and tradition for years, and that is what sets him apart from other coaches.

“It brings tears to your eyes because you don’t think you have that big of an influence on kids.”

Athletic director Dan Clauss notes that everybody affiliated with Cerritos College knows him.

“I’ll wear my Cerritos gear and be out in Orange County or Fullerton shopping, and I kid you not, I always get ‘Hey! Cerritos College! I played football there.’ Everybody knows coach him in the community.”

Dean of athletics Daniel Smith said, “There was a 1983 team that was at the last football game, and I was down there on the field talking to these guys, and every one of them was talking to me about how coach Mazzotta had influenced their lives, career and the people that they are.

“That’s the mark of a truly great coach.”


Ernie Johnson

Former football head coach Ernie Johnson served as a mentor of sorts for Mazzotta, and Mazzotta accredits the late coach for introducing him into football and catapulting his life to what it is today.

“I grew up in Pico Rivera. We were a lot of little hoodlums and he got all of us and put us on a football field basically. Had he not taken us, we’d probably all be in jail.”

When Mazzotta landed his coaching gig by replacing Johnson, the first order of business he conducted was hiring him back into the coaching staff.

“The college had a fit because they wanted him out of the program,” he said. “The team ended up winning the championship so nobody could say anything.”

Mazzotta holds fond memories of Johnson and recalled one of the last moments he shared with him.

“I talked to him three days before he died. I called his wife (and) asked for him, as he had just got out of the hospital. She asked him, ‘Coach, would you like to talk on the phone?’ I could hear him grunting in the background. She goes, ‘It’s Frank.’ Ernie (Johnson) says, ‘What do you think? It’s my son, I need to talk to him.’ That’s how we were, it was like father and son.

“It wasn’t just me he shared that with. All the guys who have played for him have the same feeling. He was an amazing man and a tough guy. You knew he loved you. Probably the only guy you could tell that you loved him. There’s never been a guy like him.”

Going professional

Mazzotta has had his share of professional coaching offers, yet he cannot stray away from what he already has here at Cerritos College.

“To coach at the next level, you have to really push to do that.”

He highlighted coaches he used to work with in his tenure at the University of Utah, such as George Siefert and Jim Hanifan who have gone on to coach for the San Francisco 49ers and the Washington Redskins, respectively.

“I was with some guys who ended up in the NFL,” Mazzotta said. “Which might have been the way I would have gone. I was an assistant coach. I really didn’t know what I wanted to do with my career at the time and I was young.”

Offers have been thrown his way, but Mazzotta has never been truly comfortable with leaving the junior college environment. The feeling was mutual.

“I’ve been offered (positions), but I wasn’t ready to leave. I had an opportunity to go to the Washington Redskins with Joe Gibbs. The night he got the job, he and I went to dinner with one of my coaches and he told me straight up that I’m not going anywhere and that I need to stay right where I am.”

The uncertainty that comes along going onto the next level of coaching is what mostly made Mazzotta turn the other direction when it came to offers, as traveling from one area to the next was far too common and inconsistent.

“I wasn’t into moving,” he said. “One year you’re in Colorado, then Florida, then Maryland. Every four year coach comes here and tell me, ‘this is a perfect job.’”


With the years behind him, Mazzotta looks toward the horizon that is his future and envisions much of the same thing.

He continues seeing himself doing what he loves, and the thought of stepping down and pursuing other endeavors does not cross his mind. When it’s time to quit, he’ll know.

“I don’t now what I’d do (concerning) retirement. Everybody I know that retires dies. That’s the way I look at it. The inspiration is being happy in the morning, to get up and go to work. It’s hard for me to stop. I don’t know how much longer I’m going to do it.

“That’s why I don’t want to leave. I don’t know what I’d do. I still have my health, I still feel good. Got a great staff, the kids are great. I think the day when the kids are no fun, I’ll get out of it. Right now, I love it.”

Looking back, Mazzotta is elated with what he has accomplished in his career and life as a whole.

“The greatest thing I did was come here. I still live in the same house I lived in when I got the job here. I got to coach both my sons here and they were great players. Both of them coached here for me and are now coaching. So my life is pretty complete.

“You can be at the top, but you can come down. I’ve been at the top at this level for the last 35 years and happy.”