The Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference has announced that Mike Riskas, a long time Pomona-Pitzer professor, coach and administrator, is being honored with the SCIAC Distinguished Service Award. The award recognizes an individual who has prompted collegiate athletics and the concept of the student-athlete as a coach, administrator or long term member of the conference and/or otherwise been involved with servicing college athletics on campus. The award may be given to nominees who have retired or resigned from athletics administration and who have rendered such meritorious service to intercollegiate athletics as may seem sufficient to entitle them to this honor. Riskas will be honored at the SCIAC’s annual banquet.
Riskas retired in 2003 after spending 42 years working at Pomona-Pitzer Colleges in a wide variety of roles. Riskas first arrived in 1961 and served as assistant football and assistant track coach for a year before assuming head coaching duties in baseball and assistant coaching duties in football from 1962-1986, producing numerous conference, regional and national-level players. Riskas was named an NCAA Division III District Coach of the Year in baseball in 1988.
“We are so proud of Mike earning this conference recognition”, said Director of Pomona-Pitzer Athletics, Lesley Irvine. “Mike’s impact and dedication to the department has been remarkable and he continues to have a strong presence as a Sagehen to this day. When you consider the time he has spent on campus and the totality of people he has impacted, Mike leaves an incredible legacy. We are so proud to have as part of the Pomona-Pitzer family “
Riskas also took on non-coaching duties and managed and supervised schedules and maintained all athletic facilities on the Pomona campus, arranged for transportation, meals, strength-training and other needs of all the athletic teams, coordinated Physical Education curriculum and registration, directed the intramural program, managed announcers, security and facility set-up for all home contests, managed facility use and schedules during school breaks and summer months, managed selection and training of the student work- study staff to monitor facilities, served as chair of the Pomona-Pitzer Hall of Fame Selection Committee, administered NCAA compliance paperwork to all student-athletes, and continued to serve as a Professor of Physical Education by teaching classes such as tennis, weight training, volleyball, cardio conditioning, handball, racquetball, swimming, and wrestling. Mike served as the Director of the Western Water Polo Championships in 1991 and Director of the SCIAC Men's and Women's Swimming Championships in 1992.
Now Emeritus Professor, Riskas has maintained a wonderful association with many of his students, following their lives and careers through correspondence, and befriending them now as he did when they were on campus. He has been a special friend and aide to all his colleagues, and has served the Department of Athletics and Physical Education and the colleges to the utmost.
Riskas graduated from Belmont HS in 1952 and enrolled at UCLA, where he was captain of the Frosh Baseball team. Riskas played guard for UCLA's 1954 Football National Champion squad, and played outfield and third base for the varsity baseball team for three years - being selected as the team's Most Inspirational Player and Most Outstanding Senior in 1959.
Riskas took a three-year sabbatical from Pomona College in 2001, and Major League Baseball sent him to Greece as a Coach-in-Residence to develop grass-roots baseball. Riskas helped coach the Greek National Team to a 2003 Silver Medal in the Senior Europe Tournament, and the team qualified to the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens.
Riskas was also Curriculum Advisor and Course Editor for graduate level coaching theory correspondence courses offered through the University of La Verne and Azusa Pacific University from 1970-80. He also conducted summer seminars at Chaffey College for local coaches in 1972, and served in 1985 on an NCAA National Research Committee testing balls and bats related to composition, liveliness and manufacture to the co-efficiency of restitution. Riskas also served as the NCAA Division III Baseball Committee Chair.
"It is a special honor to be selected as a recipient of the 2017 SCIAC Distinguished Service Award”, said Riskas. “Indeed it is a blessing to share this recognition with the many super Sagehen Coach Colleagues, athletes and staff at Pomona and Pitzer Colleges. Having been a member of this great conference since 1961, it is also an honor to have shared mutual competition with the many outstanding coaches that make the SCIAC one of the best conferences out there. Thanks for the family support for a wonderful journey."
Riskas was inducted into the Pomona-Pitzer Athletic Hall of Fame in 1997, and was inducted into the UCLA Baseball Hall of Fame in 1996.