For over 30 years, Tony Pinedo has been preparing high school students to move forward in life, teaching choir and Spanish, and coaching softball, golf, baseball and football. This year, though, he is moving forward along with them, retiring to move nearer his children.
Though tempered by his love for the community, and for teaching and coaching, Pinedo explained that he and his wife were excited to make the decision to move closer to their children. “It’s never an easy decision to [retire],” he said. “I’ve been coaching and teaching now for over 30 years. I guess the main reason is family. All of our kids are out of the house. So, Patty and I are ’empty nesters’ now, and we’re not used to that. We just want to move up where we’ll be closer to the kids.”
The move also offers an opportunity for the long-time educator to consider new possibilities in his profession. “I wish it meant that I won’t have to work anymore, but that won’t be the case,” he related. “I don’t really know what I am going to do for work. I look at the unknown right now, and at my age it’s exciting to think about.”
Though he joked that his wife won’t let him attempt his real dream, to be a professional golfer on the Senior Tour, Pinedo is excited to look at his options. “I am a very competitive person, and so I like the challenge of being able to go do something new, and see if I can succeed at it,” he said.
Born in Arizona, and a graduate of Brigham Young University, Pinedo began teaching and coaching 31 years ago at Emery High. After five years there, which he said he remembers fondly, he accepted a job at Carbon High.
For the first years at Carbon, he taught Spanish and coached baseball, but he was elated when after seven years, he finally took a position teaching music and directing choir.
Pinedo explained that excitement, revealing that he had developed a love of music early on from his mother who was a piano teacher. That love led him to pursue the goal of becoming a choir teacher, and so the time he has spent living that dream has been especially memorable.
“It was a difficult thing not to do choir, “he said. “For seven years I taught Spanish, and I thought I would never get the choir job. I finally got my chance, and I’ve loved it ever since. It’s probably been one of the best things that I’ve ever done in my life.”
Pinedo’s fondest memories of his time as a choir director come from the relationships he developed with his students, and the many activities they participated in. He shared that he has great memories of trips to California, singing at Temple Square and at Jazz games in Salt Lake City, and developing traditions such as singing “Bridge Over Troubled Water” each year.
“When you see the kinds of things these young people experience outside of the classroom, those are the memories [I’ll remember],” he said. “There’s just a bond that forms when you are dealing with good students that are involved in something like music, that you love. It’s been a huge part of my life.”
The experiences he has had have made Pinedo an advocate for the importance of music programs in public education. “It should never be taken out of public schools, because there’s a growth and a part of everybody’s life that is touched through music, that will never be reached any other way. You just cannot take that away and not injure and harm our young people,” he expressed.
Though music is his passion, and he never intended to be involved in coaching, Pinedo has also developed a great love and involvement in high school sports. At Emery High, he assisted in the football program and was the head coach of the baseball team. Since taking the job at Carbon, he has coached baseball, football, softball and golf.
As a coach, he has experienced the excitement of winning and seeing his athletes make great improvements, and the misery that coaches feel having to cut players during try-outs. As with choir, those experiences served to develop bonds between Pinedo and the students he worked with.
“It’s interesting how I can think of games we’ve gone through and remember almost every detail. I think of kids and the times they have overcome difficulties, and to see their expressions, it’s been wonderful. Many times you feel like a father figure to some of them. It’s going to be very hard and difficult to not be involved,” he said.
That regret at no longer being involved spills into his participation in the community. “My wife and I have loved the community here. We’ve enjoyed so much being a part of Price for all these years,” he shared. “There have been so many opportunities for us to be involved in the communities through the musical talents that we have. It will be very, very hard to not be here and not do the things we normally do. We have loved being here.”
For the full interview with Pinedo, tune into ETV 10 tonight at 7 p.m.