“The heartbeat of Capuchino.”
This is how the inscription reads on Kirk Sandvik’s birthday present from the Capuchino High School athletics department.
Anyone who has ever set foot on the playing surface for any of Capuchino’s big-three boys’ sports has likely been greeted by Sandvik. His signature salutation “You don’t remember me?” has been part of the San Bruno school’s tradition since he joined the football team as an athletics assistant in 1981.
Saturday night, Capuchino honored its favorite son by celebrating Sandvik’s 60th birthday at the San Bruno Senior Center. Upwards of 300 people attended the bash, during which Sandvik was presented with a framed Capuchino baseball jersey bearing his longtime No. 2.
“This year, him being 60 … we’re going to make it a huge bash,” Capuchino athletic director Matt Wilson said.
Sandvik’s first foray into his station as an athletics assistant started in 1970 when he served as a ball boy for the College of San Mateo football team. A graduate of Crestmoor High School in 1978, Sandvik was a water boy for the football, basketball and baseball teams while he was a student at the San Bruno campus, which closed in 1980.
In 1981, he was hired as the team manager for the Capuchino football team. He has since taken over the same role for Cap’s basketball and baseball teams and has also worked with every level of San Bruno’s summer baseball leagues, from Little League to Joe DiMaggio, according to Wilson.
“He’s been around all over the place,” Wilson said.
Wilson said his first encounter with Sandvik is something that has become a familiar sight to him as not only Cap’s athletic director, but also as varsity baseball head coach for the past 18 seasons. When Wilson was in middle school, he and his friends used to attend Cap sporting events, and it was during a football game while throwing around the football during halftime that Sandvik chased them off the field.
“That’s how we met Kirk,” Wilson said. “Kirk would be the one running over and kicking us off.”
Sandvik’s actual birthday was last Thursday, March 14. But the Capuchino baseball team made Saturday’s celebration day a special one in defeating archrival Mills with a 4-3 walk-off win on an RBI single by sophomore Tyler Firpo.
“They won in the last inning,” Sandvik said. “It was great.”
The game was rescheduled after being postponed due to rain earlier in the week. Saturday’s makeup date was significant in that it forced Cap to postpone its alumni game, which was originally scheduled for that morning. The alumni game is a longtime tradition at Cap, though it has been canceled twice in previous seasons due to weather issues. Wilson said it has yet to be decided whether or not this year’s game with be canceled or rescheduled.
“I’m going to wait and see how the season is playing out,” Wilson said. “Maybe we’ll wait and play it down the line.”
One thing is for certain. If they do play the game, most every former Cap alumnus involved in it will remember Sandvik from the dugout in their playing days.
“All the old guys, everyone knows him,” Wilson said. “And the funny thing is everyone loves him.”
Wilson estimated, through his 18 years of coaching Capuchino baseball, Sandvik has missed approximately three games. His attendance record for football isn’t quite as impeccable, but only because he still serves as a ball boy at CSM, with the Bulldogs’ games taking precedent over Capuchino games when there is a scheduling conflict.
“I feel bad sometimes my football games sometimes conflict with CSM,” Sandvik said.
That doesn’t stop Sandvik from leaving it all on the field for Capuchino. While he is most known for his persistent greeting to all who enter the realm of Capuchino athletics, or his signature rally cry to celebrate big wins, what people don’t see is how, several times a week, Sandvik is one of the first ones to arrive at campus. Wilson said two or three times a week, Sandvik is sitting outside the locker room when Wilson arrives at 7:30 a.m.
As a part-time employee paid in part through the Capuchino Sports Boosters, Sandvik coordinates the team room as a clubhouse manager, attending to everything from organizing players’ uniforms, to running the equipment room to meticulously collecting players’ paperwork, Wilson said.
In other words, as the inscription reads: “Kirk Sandvik: The heartbeat of Capuchino.”
“I consider Kirk family,” Wilson said. “He’s the sweetest guy in the world. … He’s the best. Capuchino wouldn’t be the same without him.”---