HomeBlocksFront-GridViar Lauds Teamwork in Last-Act Ribbon Cutting

Viar Lauds Teamwork in Last-Act Ribbon Cutting

First published in the July 2 print issue of the Glendale News-Press.

By Alex Leon
Special to the Glendale News-Press

The most important victory in the decades-long history of Glendale Community College Athletics came on the beautiful sun-drenched morning of June 24, with all the trappings of celebration in place and a beautiful prize waiting to be unwrapped.
The crowd was in place much like at any other game for the Vaqueros, but, this time, the outcome was predetermined, and the drama was building in a different way as speaker after speaker set the tone until the man of the hour — outgoing Superintendent and President David Viar — took his turn at the podium one last time at GCC.
Ask Viar and he would probably agree that teamwork is the most important ingredient to running a successful business, being in a leadership role at a community college or being the head coach of a sports team at any level.
Most people know Viar as the now-retired superintendent/president of GCC, the administrative leader of the 95-year-old institution first established in 1927 as part of Glendale Union High School until it moved to its current location at Mountain Street and Verdugo Road in 1937.
Since he joined GCC in 2013 and through his retirement in June, he has helped the college maintain and improve on its status as one of the leading learning institutions in the state.
But using a sports vernacular, Viar was also the “head coach” at GCC, which seems an appropriate term to use considering he grew up as a successful student-athlete in Illinois and was the son of a hall of fame high school football coach who carefully guided his son away from the gridiron and instilled in him the values that have served him well to this day.

  • (Photos courtesy Sam Lee) - At the Kinesiology and Athletic Complex ribbon cutting last week, Glendale Community College coaches, staff and alumni gather around David Viar, who retired in June after leading the college for nine years.
  • Glendale Community College baseball player Kai Moran and basketball player Hana Trieu unveil the plaque dedicating the Kinesiology and Athletic Complex in June.
  • The new Kinesiology and Athletic Complex includes the existing basketball courts, which saw a refresh and reconfiguration.
  • Associate Dean of Athletics Chris Cicuto presents David Viar with a Glendale Community College jersey signed by numerous colleagues. Many regarded Viar as essentially the head coach of GCC during his tenure.

“In high school, he wanted me to be happy and I don’t think either of us was happy with me trying to play football just because he was the head coach, and I was his son,” he said, with a laugh. “We both agreed I was probably better suited to be a swimmer and water polo player because of my frame but the real lesson that I learned was to be patient and thoughtful making decisions based on my future and I think that has worked out pretty well for me.”
Sitting inside his office on a recent spring day, the area had the trappings of an administrator but also the memories of a career path that has spanned decades and, most importantly to him, what the future holds for GCC — namely the three projects on the horizon that will be a boon for students, faculty and staff and the community as well.
These are the now-completed kinesiology and athletic complex, a new science building under construction and a performing and media arts center that will bear his name, slated as the third pillar of growth facilitated by the passage of a GCC Bond Measure in 2016.
Fast forwarding ahead to the end of his tenure, the months and days have dropped off the calendar as business as usual has been conducted and he has responded like a proud father wishing his flock well.
He was beaming with pride and joy at graduation on June 15 as the classes of 2020, 2021 and 2022 — resplendent in caps and gowns of cardinal and gold — walked across the stage into futures for which that he helped provide.
Of course, he did not do it alone and like any successful coach in any sport, he defers to GCC’s board of trustees, his administrative team, the faculty and staff and, of course, the students as the reasons for the continued success of an institution that is nearing its centennial.
Walk down the hallway from his office in the administration building and there are tile patterns that have been there for decades and all over campus to show that, while the college proudly embraces its past, it also has a keen eye for future growth.
That growth was beautifully displayed during the ribbon-cutting ceremony for the new kinesiology and athletic complex, where the existing and reconfigured Verdugo Gym remains the centerpiece of the facility, but with new additions that include an auxiliary gym, offices, team locker rooms, meeting and equipment rooms, disabled students’ area and a training and weight room that has an outdoor area with a great view of Sartoris Field.
A new concession stand with restrooms is slated to open in the next few months.
“[This] was a historic day for Glendale Community College and for our student-athletes and the faculty and staff that work so professionally with them,’’ said Ann Ransford, president of the college’s board of trustees.
“It was the day we cut the ribbon and entered our state-of-the-art Kinesiology and Athletic Complex and the future for those that utilize it looks promising. On behalf of the GCC board of trustees, thanks to all who worked so diligently to provide this facility for our community,” she added.
At the event, coordinated by Chris Cicuto, associate dean of athletics, and division chair Jon Gold, the crowd heard about the history of the project, the decades of having a master plan on the books with no clear path to completion and the years of struggle dealing with the pandemic that displaced GCC athletes and teams during construction.
However, it was the comments from Viar before he and the members of the board of trustees cut the ribbon to officially open the facility that tied up the occasion in a neat bow of cardinal and gold.
“I had come to Glendale from American River College in Sacramento and, while I knew the college had a great athletic tradition with success on and off the field, the offices and other areas were old and in poor condition and something needed to be done,’’ he said.
“A project of this enormity takes a lot of internal stakeholders, which we had, and the community support came through the passage of the bond measure and now what stands before us is a facility that the college, coaches, staff, teams, student-athletes and the community can be proud of,” he added.
After the ribbon was cut and the well-wishers dispersed, Viar stood for one last photo with coaches, staff and alumni on the steps leading up to the facility to put a fitting end to a day that appropriately ended with him annotated as a Vaquero for life.
It is fitting that he was presented with a jersey with his name on the back with the number 9, for his tenure at GCC, and signed by many colleagues who admired his work as an administrator and de facto coach of the campus who will be remembered fondly.
Once a Vaq, always a Vaq indeed.
Alex Leon is the sports information director for Glendale Community College. He was formerly the sports editor of the Foothill Leader, as well as a reporter and columnist for the Glendale News-Press.

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