Bishop O’Dowd High School: A Harmony of School and Sports

TWS7 Blog Story

Established in 1951 and located near the San Francisco Bay, Bishop O’Dowd — a Catholic preparatory high school — is a powerhouse both academically and athletically.

Carlos Arriaga has worked at Bishop O’Dowd High School for 19 years, 11 of them as the associate athletic director. He knows the area well and points out the school as one of the most authentically diverse high schools in the country. “Being so diverse is definitely unique to our school both ethnically and in terms of what we offer,” Arriaga says. “It really addresses the broad scope of our community.”

Arriaga likens O’Dowd’s athletic program to a small-college program. “We offer small-college program levels of attentiveness with a lot more offerings in competition levels,” he says.  “We have 15 sports and upward of 58 levels of competition like varsity, junior varsity, and freshman programs within each of those sports and for specific genders.”

The sport with the longest tradition of success, Arriaga says, is the men’s basketball program; today, practically every sport competes at the state level. “That’s something we’re very proud of,” he says.

Something else the athletic program can be proud of: its commitment to the community. “Many of our teams have been working in the community to support sustainability efforts around our environment, local food banks, working to plant trees at local schools, working at homeless shelters, and supporting breast cancer awareness efforts,” Arriaga says. “It’s something besides athletics and competition we put a high level of emphasis on and makes our program unique.”

One more thing sets O’Dowd apart. For eight straight years, the school finished among the Top 10 schools for the Elmer Brown Award of Excellence. Then, in 2015-2016, O’Dowd won the award, which is given to the schools based on athletic success and team GPAs for each sport.

When it comes to fundraising, Arriaga offers advice to other schools that rely on a steady income stream for their programs.

“Build relationships with people that will help create the program and vision,” he says.  “We have a development department that handles all the major fundraising for our school, and we work closely with them.

“We also have an annual budget, so if we exceed it or if it hasn’t been planned for— maybe there’s a team traveling to a tournament —we may have to execute smaller-scale fundraising to help subsidize some of that travel.”

Working with Eastbay

The primary reason Arriaga enjoys working with Eastbay Team Sales is the field representatives. “We’ve worked with some really good reps and they’ve always supported us and our needs,” he says. “We’ve been able to establish and strengthen those relationships over the years, and that’s really the key to making this whole thing work. Everyone we’ve worked with has been in the industry for quite some time, so they know it inside and out.

“If you ask for recommendations, they give you their professional opinion, and because they’ve been in it for so long, they are spot on.”

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