Remembering beloved coach Pauletto
NEWMAN – The Orestimba Warrior family and the community of Newman are mourning the loss of beloved coach and friend Roger Pauletto. Coach Pauletto, as he is respectfully addressed by his former players and fellow staff members of more than 40 years with the local school district, passed away Tuesday morning.
“This is a sad day in Warrior football,” OHS Varsity Head Coach Aaron Souza told Mattos Newspapers that afternoon. “Words cannot describe the impact Coach Pauletto had on hundreds of men and women as both a coach and a teacher at Orestimba,” Souza expressed. “He will be truly missed on and off the field.”
Although Souza did not have the opportunity to play for Pauletto, he grew up hearing stories about those great football years when the beloved coach first joined the OHS staff and began making his mark on the Warrior field. “He was the epitomy of old school football. He was a mentor and a father figure to so many and by far the best coach Orestimba ever had. I feel privileged to have had the opportunity to learn from him these last few years since becoming head coach myself,” Souza acknowledged.
Roger Pauletto began his career with the Newman school district when he joined the Orestimba High School staff in 1968. He quickly made a name for himself in both the classroom and on the football field.
“He was a genuine person who loved the game of football. He was intense on the field and made OHS football exciting at the time,” Don Arnett, class of 1970, described. Coach Pauletto had a way about him that commanded the player’s full attention. “When Coach Pauletto spoke, you listened. He was so knowledgable and passionate about the game. The messages he conveyed to his players were invaluable. He was well respected by his players and fellow coaches,” Arnett noted.
Winning was rewarding but building strong character in his players was the most important goal for Coach Pauletto. “He always told us we didn’t have to be perfect but we did have to always do our best. If we worked hard and always gave our best then things would happen,” Arnett recalled.
And things did happen for the Warriors for several years to follow.
In 1970, his first year as head coach, Orestimba won the Trans Valley League football title. The talented and inspiring coach later led the Warriors to Southern League crowns in 1977, 1980 and 1981.
“Coach Pauletto was an icon at OHS,” Arnett pointed out. Not only in his coaching but as a teacher and a friend.
“He was one of my best friends,” fellow teacher and coach Dennis Bettencourt shared. “He is so respected by so many people. He was an amazing man.”
Bettencourt has fond memories of the years when the OHS coaching staff attended conferences and clinics together. “Roger was such a good story teller. He would start a story when we left Newman and would still not be quiet by the time we reached our destination to Reno or Lake Tahoe or wherever we were headed,” he warmly remembered.
Story telling is a “gift” Roger is well known for by family and friends. Football stories were among the most popular but he loved sharing stories about family and life in general as well. “When he was telling a story he had such a knack for detail, a story about a game played 40 years ago seemed like it had happened just yesterday,” Arnett described about a gathering of alumni players and coaches before the big game against Gustine a few weeks ago.
OHS teacher Sid Webb thinks it could be because of his strong personality that he was able to command an audience wherever he was. “People would listen when Roger had something to say,” Webb said. “There was something special about that man. He was a family man and a good friend. He had integrity and he loved his job. He was an all around good man and well respected.”
Roger Pauletto taught at Orestimba, Yolo Middle School and Newman alternative education. He taught Math, History, P.E., and weight training as well as driver training during winter, spring and summer breaks. He enjoyed all of his assignments and looked at each opportunity as a challenge to educate youngsters.
The alternative education assignment was one of his favorites.“The youngsters I dealt with over there just needed some one to take an interest in them and work with them,” he had told Mattos Newspapers in a 2004 story.
That’s the kind of teacher he was. Matter of fact, to the point, willing to give every student he taught, every player he coached, the opportunity to be the best they can be.