John’s coaching career started when his football coach at Trinidad (Colorado) High School was drafted into World War II, and his teammates asked him to fill in. He wound up coaching there for four years, until St. Mary’s High School in Colorado Springs offered him its coaching job — and free tuition to CC.
After graduating he moved to Montana, where he coached for four years at Carroll College before joining St. John’s University in 1953. He coached there until retiring in 2012. In between, John accumulated five undefeated seasons and four Division III national titles. And notably, he never cut a player, often keeping nearly 200 young men on his roster. He never allowed tackling or blew a whistle during practices. And his one basic team rule was “the Golden Rule.” He was elected to the CC Athletic Hall of Fame in 2004.
John was predeceased by a son, Joseph. His survivors include his wife, Peggy; children Nancy Little, Gina Benson, John and Jimmy Gagliardi; 19 grandchildren; and 13 great-grandchildren.