As the head football coach at Mater Dei from 1957 to 1965, Richard “Dick” Coury led the Monarchs to three CIF Southern Section titles and seven league titles.
He coached three CIF Players of the Year, one Heisman Trophy winner and amassed an overall combined record was 85-9-5.
But of far greater significance is the indelible impression Coach Coury left on his players and the culture defining legacy he established Mater Dei, transcending far beyond football.
On April 22, Coury’s former players, family members, friends and former colleagues gathered in Alumni Plaza outside the Meruelo Athletic Center at Mater Dei, where a memorial plaque was unveiled as a permanent tribute to their coach and mentor.
The plaque is prominently displayed in a high-traffic area where athletes go to and from the lockers to the athletic fields.
“I can’t tell you how important this will be as young Monarchs come through these areas right here,” said longtime football coach Bruce Rollinson, who retired at the end of last season. Rollinson, who also played for Coury, added, “He instilled in us the highest ideals of character, moral conduct, loyalty and the brotherhood of Mater Dei football, now that is both on the field and what would carry over into our personal and professional endeavors for the rest of our lives.”
FR. STEVE SALLOT, 1972 MATER DEI GRADUATE AND FORMER RECTOR AT MATER DEI, ADDRESSES ATTENDEES DURING A MEMORIAL PLAQUE UNVEILING FOR THE LATE COACH DICK COURY ON APRIL 22.
The words “Head Coach” are inscribed along the top of the 36-by-38 inch, 300-pound plaque. On either side of an image of Coury are the Mater Dei logo on the left and an image of Mary, from Mary’s Grotto on the school’s campus, on the right.
The words, “The winning tradition began here,” are inscribed in bold letters above a biography of Coach Coury.
The Mater Dei Lettermen’s Club, a volunteer fundraising and alumni networking entity for the school. spearheaded the creation and installation of the plaque.
Fr. Steve Sallot, 1972 Mater Dei graduate and former rector at Mater Dei, blessed the plaque with Holy Water.
“Great coaches are not just winning coaches, but they are great coaches because they are great influencers and I think that is the gift and the honor and the heritage that we celebrate here for Coach Coury here today,” Fr. Sallot said.
After leading the Monarchs to their third CIF Southern Section Championship in 1960, John Huarte went on to a storied career at Notre Dame, winning the Heisman Trophy in 1964. Huarte spoke about Coury’s kindness and self-discipline.
“When I think about him, I just think about what a topnotch person he was,” Huarte said. “I never heard a word from him that was negative or grey or discolored. That was his discipline. He never talked to us about it. But he sure set an example of how you should act and that it the biggest think I got from Coach Coury was the example of how he lived his life.”
After leaving Mater Dei, Coury went on to serve as defensive coordinator for USC and became Cal State Fullerton’s first football coach in 1970.
Coury was an assistant coach for several NFL teams, including the Los Angeles Rams and coached in the World Football League and United States Football League. He served as an assistant with the Philadelphia Eagles team that played in the 1981 Super Bowl.
But Coury’s fondest memories were of Mater Dei, his son Steve Coury said.
“My dad loved this place and talked about it all the time,” said Coury, himself a football coach at Lake Oswego High School in Oregon. “His happiest years were right here, bar none. He just loved this place and everything about it. That never left his heart.”