The Pillar of the Mt. SAC Athletic Special Events!
(Walnut, CA) In any great organization there are people in the background who are the pillars that hold up and support an organization. For the past 12 years, the pillar of the Mt. SAC Athletics Special Events has been Janet Todd. Todd has been that invaluable resource who handled the day-to-day operations for the college’s highest profile and world renowned events that bring nearly 100,000 people to the Mt. SAC Campus and promote the Mt. SAC name to millions of people throughout the world. What most people do not know is the story behind this great woman who is also a professor, wife, mother of three and community figure.
The daughter of Dr. Bob and Marilyn Pestolesi, Todd was the fourth of six children who grew up in an athletic environment. Her late father was a very well-known figure in the physical education/athletics world who served in teaching and leadership roles at Long Beach State, Cal State Dominguez Hills and USC. Dr. Pestolesi served nationally as the President of the American Alliance for Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance (AAHPERD, now known as SHAPE America) and on the President’s Council on Physical Fitness. He also served regionally as president of the California Association for Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance (CAHPERD). Her father also mentored and/or taught four of the most successful coaches in California Community College history, who between them, have captured an amazing 45 state championships.
In her earlier years, Todd herself was a talented tennis player who captured the 1976 California Community College Tennis Mixed Doubles State Championship, with her partner Rick Meeks, for Golden West College. While pursuing her master’s degree at Cal State Dominguez Hills, she met her future husband Doug Todd, the current Director of Athletic Special Events and former head coach of the Mt. SAC Cross Country and Track & Field Program. After finishing her degree, she began her 20 plus year career with Chapman University, as a tennis coach (1982-1987) and as a professor. Although Todd remained at home with her 3 children Matt, Mallory and Kaitlyn, she continued teaching part-time at Chapman and for the last 20 years at Mt. SAC. At Mt. SAC, Todd headed up the First Aid Classes. Through the years, Todd has always helped her husband with the various events associated with the Mt. SAC Cross Country and Track & Field Programs.
In 2008, when long time Relays Secretary Evelyn Lewis retired, Todd stepped in to fill that role in a part-time capacity. As the face and voice of the office, she spent long hours communicating with coaches, planning/preparing for the special events and supporting the needs of the director and divisional event coordinators. Her organization, hard work ethic and attention to detail was the key to a smooth and efficient office, which helped produce successful events.
“With Janet in the office, we never had to worry about something not being completed,” replied long time Mt. SAC Relays Director, Don Ruh. “She was that incredibly strong pillar that supported our events and the goals we accomplished could not have been done without her.”
Along with everything else that goes on in her life, Todd has also found time to volunteer helping other organizations and events. Through the years she has volunteered organizing the local Walnut AYSO as treasurer, been a member of the City of Walnut Parks and Recreation Commission and a valuable staff member of the the National Pole Vault Summit (3,500 attendees in Reno, Nevada) and the North American Pole Vaulting Championships (8,000 fans in Clovis, CA).
This past June (2020), Todd retired from her teaching and office administrative duties with the Mt. SAC Athletic Special Events. Luckily for the athletic special events, and in true Janet Todd fashion, she has stated that she will continue volunteering and helping with whatever is needed.
Mt. SAC Division Information Director Brian Yokoyama (BY) spent some time with Todd (JT) to discuss her personal background and her impact on the world renown Mt. SAC Special Events.
BY – What were some of the most memorable experiences during your time as the Athletic Special Events Secretary?
JT – Working with the creative and hard-working coaches and event staff, where there is always organized craziness, but we pull together to solve any problem!
BY – Why did you follow in your father’s footsteps and enter the Physical Education/Kinesiology profession?
JT – Along with my parents, four out of my six siblings are teachers and two are athletic coaches. We grew up with play days and pot lucks with the Long Beach State Physical Education Faculty. The campus was our summer playground and we spent time in the athletic facilities; anywhere from the trampoline room, to the swimming pool. All of us were sports minded, so I never thought twice about what I wanted to do, teach and coach. Moving to the athletic special events was an easy transition.
BY – Coming from an inside view of the Mt. SAC Athletic Special Events, what is something that someone from the outside would be surprised to know?
JT – I think people would be surprised to find out the amount of planning involved for an event. From ordering radios, worker clothing (sizes, designing the color scheme and clothing type matching the weather), to feeding volunteers and working with vendors and hotels. There is a lot of planning, questions and communication with these entities in order to support their needs and still work within the framework for an event.
BY – Tell us how you balanced your education, marriage, motherhood and a career?
JT – I received my bachelor’s degree in 1979, teaching credential in 1980 and began coaching and substitute teaching at the high school level. I began teaching at Chapman University in ‘81 and received my Master’s degree in ‘82. I left the high school (teaching) world for part-time hours at Chapman, Golden West College and Santa Ana College. This gave me the freedom to pick my hours. Teaching at the college level was perfect for raising a family and continuing my career.
BY – As you step away, what will be some of the things you will and won’t miss with the Athletic Special Events and teaching?
JT – I will miss the students in the classroom teaching CPR and preparing students for emergency situations. In regards to the athletic special events, I was able to CPR certify all of our course spotters for our cross country events.
I won’t miss the late papers, tardy students and grading papers.
Working remotely since March, I have missed the noisy Athletic Special Events Office and all the activity around. Once the Stadium is open that should all return.
BY – What are some of the things you look forward to in retirement?
JT – Looking forward to traveling, but mostly my first grandchild!
For additional information, please contact the Mt. SAC Sports Information Office at 909.274.4630.