Larry Baratte, the architect of Ventura College's dominant men's and women's swimming programs of the early 21st century and a 2017 inductee into the VC Athletics Hall of Fame, peacefully passed away surrounded by the love of his family. He impacted the community in so many ways and will be sorely missed, yet his legacy will continue to live on.
Larry Baratte was born to Laurence & Elaine Baratte on May 19, 1959. Growing up in the San Francisco Bay Area, he was a nationally ranked age-group swimmer, and an All-American athlete in high school and college. He graduated from Pepperdine University in Malibu, CA and later received his Master's degree in Education from Azusa Pacific University.
Coach Baratte, or simply "Coach" to so many, came to Ventura College in 1988 as an aquatic instructor and assistant to the men's and women's swim teams and the men's water polo team. He came to VC after six years as the head aquatics coach at Thousand Oaks High School where his teams won nine Marmonte League swimming and diving championships.
In 1990 Baratte was named head coach of the women's swim program at VC, and in 1992 was hired to a full-time faculty position responsible for the entire intercollegiate aquatic program, directing the men's and women's swimming and diving teams and the men's water polo team.
During his 29-year career at the helm of the Pirates' swimming and diving teams, Baratte guided the program into regional, state and national prominence. He coached 152 community college All-Americans, 24 California state champions in 52 individual events along with 13 California state champion relay teams. His teams produced 12 national champions in 18 individual events and one national champion relay team. He coached nine athletes who were named the California State Athlete of the Year and 26 WSC Athlete of the Year award winners.
Baratte's team achievements were highlighted by two men's swimming and diving state championships in 2005 and 2010. His teams won 27 WSC team titles, and consistently finished in the top-5 at the California State Championships.
Most notably, his teams were honored statewide for their academic results with 11 teams earning the CCCAA State Scholar Team Award. Of note, in 2005 Ventura College became the first men's aquatic program in the state to win a state team championship and the state scholar-team award in the same year.
Baratte was honored numerous times as the WSC Coach of the Year, and was named the California State Coach of the Year in 2003, 2005, and 2010.
From 1992 to 1999 Baratte served as the head men's water polo coach establishing the team as one the finest in the state. During his eight years leading the team, Baratte coached 11 All-Americans, averaged over 20 wins per season, won the 1997 state scholar team award, and advanced to the 1997 CCCAA State Championship tournament. In addition he was the founder of the women's water polo program, overseeing the women's club team in 1995 and 1996.
On top of his duties as head men's and women's swimming and diving coach, Baratte was a full-time professor and served as the department head in the Kinesiology Department. He was also a longtime member of the board of directors for the California Community College Swimming & Diving Coaches Association.
In 2007, in recognition of his successes, as well as honoring the contributions he made during his coaching career, Baratte was inducted into the Ventura County Sports Hall of Fame. In 2013, he was one of two coaches, statewide and across all sports, to receive the lifetime achievement award given that year by the California Community College Coaches Association.
Coach Baratte retired from his full-time teaching job in the spring of 2016 and officially retired from coaching in the fall of that same year.
In 2013, Larry was diagnosed with glioblastoma brain cancer. He surpassed all medical expectations and survived three surgeries within a seven-year time span.
Larry's proudest achievement has always been his family. Spending time with wife, Beth and his three greatest joys- sons Chase (30), Collin (29) and Cole (26), were his highlights.
He lived each day with a purpose and felt truly blessed to be surrounded by love and great friendships. He especially enjoyed daily "Coffee Talk" with close friends and ex-athletes.
The family would like to extend their deepest gratitude to all family, friends, athletes, coaches and colleagues for their love & prayers, to Ventura College for all their continued support and to Dr. Jethro Hu (Cedar Sinai), who has proven to be more than just a doctor over the last seven years.
"Give of yourself and you will receive ten times in return!" In the spirit of how Larry lived and in lieu of flowers, the family is establishing an endowed Larry Baratte Memorial Student Aquatics Athlete Scholarship to be awarded annually.
Donations can be sent to the "Ventura College Foundation," with "Larry Baratte Aquatic Fund" in the memo line. Checks can be mailed to the VC Foundation, 4667 Telegraph Road Ventura, CA 93003 (805-289-6158, VenturaCollegeFoundation.org).
Due to the nature of the environment with the coronavirus, arrangements for a Celebration of Life will be postponed until further notice. An announcement will be made at the appropriate time- Thank you for your understanding.