Luke Phillips grew up in Monterey. His grandparents, Antonio and Carlotta Turano were Italian immigrants who settled in Monterey in the late 1890's. They raised ten children, including Luke's mother Modesta Turano who married Luther Phillips, a cavalry soldier stationed at the Presidio of Monterey. During his teenage years Luke and his brother Tom were raised by a large family of Italian relatives, including their maternal grandparents and their aunts and uncles who taught them the customs and traditions that were an important part of the Italian family culture.
Luke attended Del Monte Elementary School. Walter Colton Junior High and Monterey High School where he became active in sports, especially football. He played on the 1943-44-45 MUHS football teams coached by Hal Youngman.
After graduation from MUHS he attended Monterey Peninsula College and was Co-Captain of MPC's first football team in 1947. During those years he formed close relationships with mostly young Italian and Spanish friends and their families who have remained close today. After MPC he transferred to UC Berkley and was a member of Cal's 1949 and 1950 Rose Bowl teams coached by Pappy Waldorf. He was then drafted in the army during the Korean War and played on Fort Ord's military service championship teams in 1951 and 1952.
Upon an honorable discharge from the army he enrolled at San Jose State where he received his start in coaching as a student assistant for Coach Bob Bronzan whose staff also included a graduate assistant named Bill Walsh, the future coach of the San Francisco 49ers.
Luke graduated from San Jose State with a BA degree and teaching credentials in Physical Education. He was hired by MPC as assistant football coach for Bill Abbey in 1957 and in 1962 became head coach and served in that capacity for 23 years, for a total of 28 years at MPC.
During his tenure as MPC head coach, aided by assistants Chris Pappas, Tor Spinder, and Rich Kezirian, his teams compiled a 161-69 win-loss record that included two Northern California Championships and four Conference titles.
Luke is most proud of the long list of former players who graduated from MPC, transferred to four-year schools, excelled in athletics, earned a degree and became successful and productive citizens. After retiring from coaching football, he served an additional 14 years coaching MPC's intercollegiate Golf Team that won a State Championship, five Northern California Championships and eight Conference titles before retiring in 1999 after 42 years teaching and coaching.
In 1997 Luke was inducted into the California Community College Football Coaches Hall of Fame and in 2013 he was inducted into the California Community College Golf Coaches Hall of Fame to become the first coach inducted into two California Community College Coaches Hall of Fame.
He authored the official Code of Ethics adopted by the California Community College Football Coaches Association.
Luke is married to Victoria Samora Phillips, who was the executive assistant for MPC presidents and the MPC Governing board during the last 23 years of her 43-year career at MPC. The Phillips family consists of six children, fourteen grandchildren and twenty-two great grandchildren.
Since their retirement Luke and Victoria have been actively involved in the MPC Foundation, the MPC Alumni Committee and the MPC Boosters Club.