Tom Moore, Wilbert Johnson and Marcos Moran never got any major headlines — until now.
All three were presented Lifetime Achievement Awards on Wednesday for their contributions to Miami-Dade County high school sports and the athletes they mentored, taught and championed.
The honors were given out at the annual Miami Herald All-Dade Athletic Awards breakfast at Jungle Island.
Moore, who had been the Southwest boys’ basketball coach for the past 35 years until his retirement at the end of this school year, once nearly got a big headline in February 1996.
“Southwest had beaten Miami High, ending their long home winning streak,” said Cheryl Golden, the executive secretary of the Greater Miami Athletic Conference. “But that was the same day that Don Shula surprisingly retired.
“Tom got just a little corner of the paper in the Herald. And that’s the way it’s always been for Tom.”
Moran and Johnson got even less acclaim.
Johnson was a wrestling coach for 20 years, teaching kids at Richmond Heights Junior High as well as several high schools — South Miami, Homestead, Killian and Ransom Everglades.
He has also been a wrestling official for 31 years, officiating eight state tournaments among countless other matches. In 2008, he was inducted into the National Wrestling Hall of Fame, and he is still going strong.
“His greatest contribution to Miami-Dade has been his tireless efforts to teach inner-city kids that through wrestling, their lives can change for the better,” Golden said. “His motto has always been: ‘Off the Streets and on the Mats.’ ”
Moran, who is retiring in September, was born in Cuba and graduated from Miami High, where he played a key role in helping grow soccer from a club activity to a high school sport.
He led Miami High to a state soccer title in 1970 and then played at Miami-Dade North before again becoming a pioneer — he received the first athletic scholarship ever awarded by FIU.
Four years after graduating from Miami High, he became his alma mater’s coach, leading the Stings to the 1977 GMAC title. He became Miami Dade North’s head coach in 1980, serving for four years. He also coached Barry University for two years before returning to Miami High for a decade.
“His dedication and passion for soccer have touched many lives throughout his 40-year career in Miami-Dade County Schools,” Golden said. “He is the ultimate role model.”
Moore isn’t bad in that category, either.
Southridge athletic director Shawn Carney, who introduced Moore at Wednesday’s ceremony, said the coach’s résumé is absent the usual accolades.
“You will not see a state, regional or even a district championship,” Carney said. “But here’s what you will see: 14 of his former players and/or assistant coaches have gone on to become head coaches. You won’t find anyone else in Miami-Dade who can say that.”
Moore, who greeted the crowd with a loud and cheerful “Good Morning!” said his coaching career began 35 years ago when he left a job that paid him $18,000 annually to take one that had a salary of $11,000.
“Obviously,” he joked, “I’m not very intelligent. But that choice allowed me the opportunity to teach America’s youth, trying to make a difference.”
He has, and the same goes for Johnson and Moran — three men who have dedicated their professional lives to helping, guiding and shaping student-athletes.