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Loss of beloved Del Oro coach Mike Takayama

By: Mike Ray, Staff Writer
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With longtime Del Oro girls’ basketball coach Mike Takayama, it was never about the wins and losses.

 “Getting the win was nice but really it’s all about the girls,” said Takayama during the 2014 basketball season after his team rewarded him with his 600th career coaching win – all coming at Del Oro. “It’s about the girls.”

This week, the Del Oro family, Loomis community and Northern California basketball circles in general are in mourning after learning that Takayama, a fixture in the Del Oro coaching ranks for more than three decades, died suddenly Monday night after suffering an apparent heart attack.

Takayama had coached girls’ basketball at Del Oro for 28 seasons and, all total, with boys’ basketball and softball included had coached at Del Oro for 31 years.

A financial planner and 1977 Del Oro graduate where he was an all-league guard, Takayama was a gentleman both on and off the court.

“You won’t find a nicer man,” said former Del Oro assistant coach Clint Donaghue who coached with Takayama for 20 years before stepping down in 2015. “We’re really going to miss him as a person, family man and coach. He’ll be remembered.”  

In 2014, when Takayama reached his milestone win mark for the Golden Eagles, Del Oro Principal Dan Gayaldo acknowledged that Takayama’s win-loss record “wasn’t the whole story.”

“When someone reaches 200 and 300 wins, it’s a big deal,” Gayaldo said. “But 600 is just unheard of.  The  neat thing about it is that Mike has built a great program with his players both on and off the court.”

Under Takayama, the Lady Eagles developed into one of the premier programs in Northern California. The Lady Eagles were a perennial Sierra Foothill League contender – once winning seven consecutive SFL crowns from 2006 to 2012.

Takayama’s teams also  bagged a pair of Sac-Joaquin Section crowns (1995 and 1999) and reached the CIF Northern California regional tournament nine times.

 Takayama’s first section title team in ’95 was led by Coral Sage and Susie Main. Along the way, he had some outstanding players such as Emilie Johnson, who went on to have a standout playing career at UC Santa Barbara, played on the U.S. Pan-Am team and is now the current women’s coach at William Jessup. In addition, Brianna Ruiz, who Takayama called “the best athlete I’ve ever coached," is currently playing at Washington.

 “Hopefully I can have some positive effect on the girls,” Takayama said in a 2014 interview. “If it helps shape their lives and they can remember some of the time and effort that it takes to be successful, then that’s great.”

Takayama is survived by his wife, Kathy; and son, Ryan. Services are pending.