It’s no surprise: Corona del Sol High School has an everyday “hero” among its faculty and coaching staff. Now, after more than 30 years, Dave Vibber‘s character and greatness, both on and off the field, have been officially recognized.
Vibber was an award recipient in the Everyday Heroes program, which has honored more than 350 finalists and awarded more than $225,000 in cash and prizes to scholars, athletes and coaches.
Vibber received the 2008-09 AIA Coach of the Year award.
It is fitting that Vibber received the award the same year that he not only won Corona’s first state wresting team championship but because he is retiring after 35 years of teaching and coaching-the past 30 at Corona.
“The look on Coach Vibber’s face after his wrestling team’s state championship victory over Mesa this year is right up there as one of my favorite memories,” said Corona Athletic Director Dan Nero.
Vibber was born in Alma, Mich., and received a bachelor’s degree from Alma College and a master’s from ASU. After teaching and coaching in Michigan for three years, he moved with his wife, Melinda, to Arizona and got a job as a PE teacher and coach at Corona in 1979, two years after the high school opened. He taught PE classes, weight training classes, adaptive PE and health classes at CdS.
“Dave was a great PE teacher who actually taught the kids,” said current teacher and coach Pat Reed. “Dave’s dedication to Corona will be missed most. He did everything for Corona.”
During his 30 years at Corona, Vibber was the head varsity wrestling coach, head freshman football coach and varsity boys and girls track coach. He was tireless, coaching three high school athletic seasons except for the previous two years at CdS. He also volunteers for several community organizations.
Coach Vibber’s athletic teams at Corona won the 1980 state championship in football, the 1982 state championship in track and field, the 2008 individual state meet in wrestling and both the individual and dual state meets in wrestling in 1999. His Aztec wrestling teams also won six Central region championships.
“Dave was a great coach who never took a shortcut and had a super attitude,” said Dan Nero. “He is a great mentor for our coaches and kids.”
In 30 years, Vibber has seen many Corona students pass through his classroom, and too many athletes to mention. “I’ve been at CdS through five principals and five athletic directors,” said Vibber. “Although the buildings seem to have doubled and our facilities have improved, it’s the kids and the staff that have always been awesome, and I hope it never changes.”
Also changed have been the lower number of multiple-sport athletes and the way student athletes and their parents shop around for schools, Vibber said.
“Recruiting was a ‘bad thing,’ and kids just went to the school they were supposed to when I first started coaching,” said Vibber.
“In my experience, for the most part, Corona has had tremendously loyal athletes. That must say something for our school and staff here at CdS.”
During Vibber’s 30 years of coaching at Corona he was thought of as a dedicated professional and role model for students and young coaches. He had a reputation as a tireless coach who was tough but at the same time fair, and as someone who really cared about kids. He exhibited the character most parents would want their son or daughter’s coach or teacher to possess.
“Dave Vibber is a man who represents strong values in life,” said fellow teacher and coach Joe Maisel. “Values such as honesty, hard work, poise, caring and trust, he demonstrates everyday.”
“Dave is a family man who makes sacrifices for his family and is a solid role model,” continued Maisel. “He always wore Corona’s school colors, orange and yellow. I will miss seeing Dave in his orange and yellow every day.”
Vibber will be the first to admit that several people had an influence on his life throughout the years starting with his high school coach.
“So many people have had an impact on my life,” said Vibber. “But I have always had the greatest respect for my high school wrestling coach, Jim Trumble.”
Throughout his 30 years at Corona, Vibber worked with several coaches, teachers and staff.
“Vern Lueck and Bob Gilbert were coaches who meant a lot to me,” said Vibber. “They had a great deal of experience in life on and off the field.”
“They influenced me and taught me to keep it all balanced,” continued Vibber. “They knew what was really important and that was developing relationships.”
Coach Vibber decided to retire last year but was hired back through an agency to continue teaching and so he could coach wrestling this past year. Why retire totally now?
“It just feels like the right time for me. I have devoted a great deal of my life to this wonderful profession and coached three sports for over 30 years,” said Vibber.
“I want to have the choice of being more flexible and spend a lot more time with my growing family.”
Coach Vibber particularly enjoyed coaching his sons in football, wrestling and track and working with his daughter, Terra, his wrestling statistician for more than six years.
Vibber has been married to Melinda for 35 years and has three kids, Jamie, Brett and Terra. Jamie is married to Sarah and has a four-year-old daughter, Hailey. Brett is married to Consie, and Terra just graduated from ASU.
Vibber’s leadership with a smile will be missed, according to Nero. Vibber says he will miss the people, the kids, and the camaraderie. But most of all he is going to miss the coaching.
“I have always been proud of this school and particularly the athletic programs,” said Vibber. “It’s been an honor to be part of the lives of so many young people growing up.”
” As a teacher and a coach, you think that you are supposed to be the motivator or have the words of inspiration, but more often student-athletes and the people around me have been the motivators or the sources of inspiration,” said Vibber. “I am grateful for all the support that I have had over the years from my family and friends.”
Faculty and staff were likewise moved.
“I’d like to thank Dave for all he has done and taught me about coaching, teaching and dedication to the world of education and coaching,” said Pat Reed.
“Remember, he’s not that old yet,” said Nero. “One of the most amazing things about Coach Vibber: He is still rock solid. I don’t think there is anyone in the wrestling room who can whip him.”
The awards ceremony was held at the Orpheum Theater in downtown Phoenix and broadcast live on Cox, which is the program’s sponsor.