Salter keeps the ball rolling at Culver City High School

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Tom Salter is the current AD at Culver City High School after serving as head football coach at Bishop Amat High School for over two decades. (George Laase)

Almost every successful organization is led by brilliant people at the top, and a lot of times they are unsung heroes. They don’t get a lot of credit, but everyone in the organization knows who that person is. When you talk about Culver City High School sports that person is Athletic Director Tom Salter.

Salter came to Culver City High School 22 years ago from Bishop Amat High School in La Puente as one of the best high school football coaches in the state. After coaching football at Culver City for 14 years, he became the athletic director the pass eight years. “I found my place in life in high school athletics.” said Salter during a phone interview last week. “I love what I do and I am so happy to have Culver City as a family.” Since Salter took over the Centaurs have had one of the top athletic programs in Southern California.

It’s not surprising that Salter found his niche in life on the high school campus because his father was a famous high school coach in Southern California and his brother was one of the best high school coaches in the history of California at Upland High School.

“I think a lot about my dad,” said Salter. “I think about what he would have told me during these tough times. I talk to my brother and sisters on a daily basis. They were all principals, teachers and coaches. During these tough times it’s great to be able to reach out to my family members. I also talk to Jerry Chabola, Jon Chapman and Dubois McMillan. They all have a lot of experience at Culver City.”

Salter’s job has been especially difficult these past six months trying to navigate through the coronavirus situation. “Well, I just felt horrible for the seniors,” said Salter. “They were a great group of kids and they worked so hard. The seniors were peaking at the right time and you only get that one time. The majority of the kids are only going to play high school athletics.”

Salter knows how hard it is to play sports at the college level.  “It’s very difficult. College is more businesslike. In high school you are playing with kids you grew up with, so my heart goes out to those seniors and the coaches. It’s a family. They work so hard together. I am just hoping we can get everything under control and we will be able to play this year.”

This year sports seasons will start in December instead of August.  There will be two sports seasons. In the past there were three seasons, fall, winter and spring. In 2020-2021 there will be two seasons, fall and spring. “I am glad they push the season back to December. I feel good about that.”

As the athletic director, Salter has over 20 sports that he is responsible for, and because of the virus the emotions of the coaches go from 1 to 10.  “I just try to keep their spirits up because I remember when I was a young coach and you are so focused on the season and the players and you put your heart and soul into it and then you don’t play.”

Salter continued to talk about the coaches. “I just listen to them and let them voice their feelings. Our coaches do a great job with their student athletes. They are there for them all year.  Sometimes it’s hard to talk to your parents when you are 16, 17, and 18 years old and you need a coach or teacher to talk to and help you through difficult times. They kind of help the parents when it’s needed. We have caring coaches.”

It’s tough times at every school in the nation but especially at Culver City because the expectations were so high this past spring. “Sports goes in cycles and a lot of the spring sports had a lot of good seniors, so they were really excited because they were ready to do a lot of great things. That does not happen very often,” said Salter.

The student athletes at Culver City are not only good with a ball in their hands they also excel in the classroom.  “I am so proud of them,” said Salter. “Every year they surpass my expectations. Their academics and athletics every year just blows me away. Most of the teams have very high grade point averages. We have great athletes and they work hard and they are smart and caring and they put the team first.”