Joe Belcastro of Weed is scheduled to be inducted into the Northern California Sports Association Hall of Fame Saturday night, March 21, at St. Isidore's Church in Yuba City. Already a member of the Weed High School and Sacramento State athletic halls of fame, Belcastro will join former Weed coach Mort Kaer and former Cougar Aaron Thomas in the Northern California Hall.
Joe Belcastro of Weed is scheduled to be inducted into the Northern California Sports Association Hall of Fame Saturday night at St. Isidore’s Church in Yuba City.
A 1958 Weed High School graduate, Belcastro was previously inducted into the Weed HS Athletic Hall of Fame as both an individual and a member of the 1958 Cougar basketball and baseball teams.
He is also in the Sacramento Softball Hall of Fame as a member of the 1988 Championship Downtown Ford softball team.
Belcastro was inducted into Sacramento State Baseball Hall of Fame as a shortstop in 1992 and was inducted into the Sacramento State Basketball Alumni Coaches Circle for his basketball coaching career.
He will join two other Weed legends in the Northern California Sports Association Hall of Fame, coach Mort Kaer and Aaron Thomas, who went on from Weed to play professional football.
Belcastro is one of eight individuals being inducted this year, along with the 1963-64 Yuba City High School football team.
Another inductee also has Siskiyou County roots. Scott Turner played at Happy Camp before going on to become a successful coach at Sutter High School, where he still teaches and is now a tennis coach.
This is the Northern California Hall’s 45th year.
Born in Dunsmuir, Belcastro spent 30 years coaching in the Sacramento area.
Before retiring, he said he had decided to move back to Weed.
“When I retired June 6, 1996, my wife, Gretchen, was waiting for me in the parking lot,” Belcastro said.
By that night they were in Weed and have been there ever since.
He was a teacher and coach at Rio Americano High School from 1965 to ’83. He was the JV boys head coach and won four section championships in five years as the varsity girls basketball coach from 1978 to ’83. In the off-year, he coached the girls team to the NorCal title in Oakland.
Belcastro was named the 1980 Coach of the Year for the Sacramento Metropolitan Area.
He then taught and coached 14 years at Mira Loma High School from 1983 to ’96.
He was the head boys basketball coach there from 1983 to ’94.
Belcastro recalls the late 1940s, ’50s and early ’60s as a “phenomenal” time at Weed High School.
“You talk about the big game now,” he said. “Our big game was always with Yreka. We had phenomenal coaches, Al Shipman, Mort Kaer, Bob Linebarger. You couldn’t ask for better coaches. It was because of Al Shipman and Mort Kaer that I decided I wanted to be a coach.”
He played baseball, basketball and football for the Cougars and was influenced by teammate Aaron Thomas.
After graduating in 1958, Belcastro went into the Army and went to Germany after basic training.
One day he said he was asked if he wanted to try out for his base’s baseball team with 130 other guys.
“I called my mom and asked her to send my gloves and spikes,” he recalls.
He was one of 20 to make the team, even though most of the others were in their 20s and he was just 18.
He spent the rest of his time in the service living off post and traveling with the team to play baseball against other bases.
“I always wanted to be a shortstop but always played third base,” he said. It was his Army coach that moved him to shortstop.
Belcastro got out of the Army at age 20 and went to College of the Siskiyous when it was just three buildings and had just 250 students.
He and Bob Zalunardo were members of the first COS baseball and basketball teams, both coached by John Mazzei.
“Most of the players were locals, a couple were from Oregon,” Belcastro said.
From COS he went to Sacramento State and went out for the baseball team as a walk-on.
In the beginning, he said he was behind two other shortstops who had played the year before. Belcastro recalls the team going to Cal Berkeley for a doubleheader. He got put in halfway through the second game and was the starter from then on.
He finished his second season at Sac State with the second-best batting average in the conference.
Sac State won the 1964 Pacific Coast Championship Finals NCAA Div. II and Belcastro was All-Pacific Coast 1st Team.
He earned a degree in Physical Education/Social Science.