Monica Abbott was one of the most dominating fastpitch softball hurlers at every level - from high school to college and ultimately a two-time Olympian. She pitched North Salinas High to three straight section championships then spent the next four record-setting years at the University of Tennessee where she led the NCAA D-1 in victories all four years. She was the SEC Player of the Year three times and became first D-I pitcher in NCAA history to strike out 500 or more hitters in four different seasons. In 2007 the 6-foot-3 Abbott was USA Player of the Year and winner of the Honda Award. Her career 2,440 strikeouts, 189 victories and 112 shutouts were all NCAA records. She was a member of the silver medal -winning U.S. Olympic teams in 2008 and 2020 and won gold medals in the World Cup of Softball, Pan American Games and Canada Cup. In 2016 she signed a 6-year, $1 million contract with the Houston Scrap Yard Dawgs of the National Pro Fastpitch League. It was the highest salary ever paid by a professional women’s sports team in the US.
Adams helped pioneer Hartnell College Athletics when he joined the department in 1937. He spent more than 30 years campaigning for better facilities and encouraging participation. He was a staunch supporter of women’s athletics in a male-dominated era. Best known for his work in track and field, Adams helped organize the first state track meet in the late 1940s. Hartnell didn’t lose a dual meet in 20 years under his direction. When he retired, the Hartnell College Ed Adams Invitational was born and continues to this day.
A three-sport standout, Tamisha Allen-Smith didn’t waste any time getting off to a fast start – literally. At North Salinas High School, she set school records in the 100m HH (14.65) and 300m LH (45.90) while her relay teams set two more school records in 4x100 relay (48.97) and 4x400 relay (4:02.0). Both relay teams she competed on won league titles. Allen-Smith was also selected to the All-Monterey County high school teams in volleyball and basketball. Allen-Smith went on to win two titles in the 1998 State Community College Championships her freshman year at Hartnell College by claiming the 100m HH and 400m LH. As a sophomore she won the 100 HH at the Community College Nationals held at the National Olympic Training Facility in San Diego, and took second in the 400 LH to earn All-American honors. Allen-Smith earned a full ride track scholarship to Fresno State where her clocking in the 60 HH was third best in the WAC that year. Her top mark in the 100m LH of 13.90 ranked No. 3 on the WAC all-time Top Ten list.
Matt Alvarado was a two-time league champion in wrestling in 1955 and 1956 for Salinas High School. He supported local wrestling as a coach and referee for four decades. In 1981 he started the Salinas Valley Freestyle Wrestling Club which developed many champions and community leaders. He was honored with a tournament in his name, ``The Matt Alvarado Invitational," and in 2010 was inducted into the California Wrestling Hall of Fame. Matt was also honored at the California Interscholastic State Championship with the Irv Oliner Award for his dedication, contribution and promotion of the sport of wrestling.
Marv Beguhl was the head coach for the North Salinas High football team for 21 years. He had only one losing record in his last 14 seasons and finished with a career record of 125-75-10. Beguhl's Vikings won league titles in 1971, 1977, 1979, 1980, 1984 and 1985. His 1977 team became the first Monterey County team to reach a Central Coast Section championship game. He also coached the North Salinas track team from 1967 to 1991, winning seven league titles.
Elgie Bellizio was commissioner of the Salinas area high school athletic leagues for 30 years and was awarded the Distinguished Service Award from the Central Coast Section, the governing body of high school sports from San Francisco to King City. The CCS Pursuing Victory with Honor program rewards those who exhibit a strong sense of sportsmanship with the Elgie Bellizio Sportsmanship coin. In 2001 Bellizio earned the National High School Athletic Coaches Association Carey E. McDonald National Citation in recognition of contributions to high school sports and coaching profession. In 1983 Bellizio was named Salinas Area Chamber of Commerce Citizen of the Year.
Benavente was a three-time league MVP at Notre Dame High School and four-year starting guard for St. Mary’s of Moraga. She recently capped off a lengthy career with USC Heidelberg of the German Pro League by leading the team to the championship, earning MVP honors. Serena was captain of every team she played for. Benavente keyed USC Heidelberg’s rise from Region 3 to Region 1 – the highest league in Germany. Her last year was one of her best. In addition to the championship and MVP honors, the team finished 23-1 and she lead the team in points (11.2), assists (3.2), and steals (2.4). At St. Mary’s, Serena was named to the West Coast Conference All-Freshman team. In 2003, she took Notre Dame HS to its first CCS title in 25 years.
Lauded by former Auburn football coach Pat Dye as “one of the best offensive coordinators’ I’ve ever seen,’’ explains how and why North Salinas High graduate Al Borges had such a decorated college coaching career. In 2004 with Borges structuring the offense Auburn went 13-0 and won the national championship. But his career was off to a flying start before then. In 1997 he was Football Quarterly offensive coordinator of the year. In 1997-98 he was the Frank Broyles Assistant Coach of the Year finalist. And in 2005 Borges was Rivals. Com OC of the year. His teams went to 11 bowl games including three Cotton Bowls, two Sugar Bowls and one Rose Bowl. Borges-coached teams won nine conference championships in such leagues as the Pac-10, SEC and Big Sky. While at the U. of Oregon the Ducks were the No. 1 passing team in the Pac-10. At UCLA the Bruins had a 20-game win streak and won two conference titles while his Portland State teams won five titles in seven years. For his career Borges coached three quarterbacks who became first-round NFL picks and more than 100 players who reached the NFL -- seven of them quarterbacks. He also made coaching stops at Michigan, Cal, Boise State, Indiana and San Diego State. And it all started in 1975 coaching at Salinas High.
As a young golfer, Mike Brannan made his mark, winning championships on the national stage. The North Salinas High grad was ranked by Golf Digest as one of the top 10 all-time greatest junior golfers. At 15 years and 8 months old in 1971, Brannan won the U.S. Junior Amateur championship. The record stood for 20 years until Tiger Woods won the championship at 15 years and 6 months old. Brannan was a two-time state amateur champion. He was on the PGA Tour for four years, where he finished runner-up at the 1979 Houston Open. He was reinstated as an amateur in the 1980s and won the Northern California Senior Open in 2012. Brannan died in 2013 while employed as a sales representative for PING.
Brusa was the name of youth sports in Gonzales. He organized youth baseball, basketball and football leagues in the early 1940s and remained involved until the late 1980s. He not only formed the Gonzales Midget League (ages 4-10), he built the ballpark and was the designated pitcher for nearly 20 years. He also helped start the Gonzales Booster Club Basketball Tournament for adults, the longest-running event of its kind in the state.
The 1974 Palma High graduate was hitting the shots and calling the shots as a basketball player and coach. He was league MVP his junior and senior year and a first-team All-NorCal pick as a senior. He left as the school’s all-time scoring leader. He then helped San Diego State to a Pacific Coast Athletic League title and NCAA berth, and while attending Hartnell College as a sophomore, was All-Conference. Burlison coached Palma to the 1992 state D-IV championship and the Cal State University Monterey Bay cagers to its first title in history in 2001 and was named District Coach of the Year. While coaching MPC to four 20-win seasons he was conference Coach of the Year in 1995-96.
Beginning in 1980, the Alisal High/Hartnell College right-hander played for the A’s, Pirates, Indians, Astros, Giants and Cardinals. In 1984, he set a Cleveland Indians record for saves in a season with 23. He played 193 games in his 10-year career and finished with a lifetime ERA of 4.21 and 45 saves. He was the 18th overall pick in the 1976 amateur draft by the A’s after striking out 302 batters in two years at Hartnell.
A 2000 graduate of Alisal High School, Jose Celaya fought his way up through east Salinas and into the national boxing spotlight starting in 1997 by becoming a three-time USA National champion at 139 pounds. He won the gold medal in 1998 at the USA under-19 tournament, and was a bronze medal winner at the US Golden Gloves and PAL champion in 1999. Celaya was an alternate on the US 2000 Olympic boxing team. As a pro, he won the NABO welterweight title belt in 2002 and at the same time was ranked No. 1 in the world by the WBO at 147 pounds. His pro record was 31-7 with 16 knockouts and his amateur mark was 75-17.
Known as one of the most versatile motorcycle racers of the 1980s and 1990s, Chandler was inducted into the American Motorcycle Association Hall of Fame in 2006. The North Sali-
nas High grad was the 1983 AMA Rookie of the Year and only one of four riders in history to win the AMA Grand Slam by scoring national wins in the mile, half-mile, short track, Tourist Trophy and road race. He spent four years on the Grand Prix circuit. Chandler won the wild and wooly 1987 San Jose Mile and the 1990, 1996 & 1997 AMA Superbike titles.
An all-league linebacker and running back for King City High School, Chaney’s greatest game came as a San Jose State linebacker on November 13, 1971 against Stanford. Chaney
racked up 17 unassisted tackles, two fumble recoveries, an interception and a crucial sack to help SJSU to a 13-12 win against then #10 Stanford. SJSU Coach Dewey King called it the biggest win in school history. In 1971, Chaney was named to the Playboy, UPI and AP All-American team and co-captained the West in the East-West Shrine game. He was named to the SJSU Hall of Fame in 1983. His #52 jersey was retired by the university in 1971.
Retired from coaching the Salinas High School boys’ basketball team in 2013 as the winningest coach in Central Coast Section history with 687 victories. He coached the Cowboys for 41 years and was involved in 1,107 games. Including two years coaching San Leandro High School of the North Coast Section, Chappell’s career victory total is 717. Thirteen times his Salinas teams won 20 or more games, with a high of 28 in 2000-01 and 1994-95. His teams finished with a winning overall record 29 times and reached the CCS Div. 1 championship game twice.
Mr. Baseball. That’s the name Chesholm earned because of his passion for the game and his commitment to keep Salinas a longstanding member of the Class A California League. He
was responsible for bringing organized baseball back to Salinas in the 1940s. He was known to secretly repair the scoreboard, mend the outfield fence, and anonymously paid bills to keep the team in town. Ultimately, Municipal Stadium was renamed the Chet Chisholm Field.
In his senior year at Palma High in 1976 Steve Clayton was the class valedictorian and Athlete of the Year. Fifteen years later he returned to teach, coach and become the school’s athletic director for the next 23 years to help Palma become one of the strongest athletic programs in the Central Coast Section. In 2010 he was the CCS Athletic Director of the Year, in 2011 he was awarded the CCS Distinguished Service Award and in 2012 was honored as the California Interscholastic Athletic Director of the Year. He played a key role in presenting the equity league concept to the Southern Conference of the CCS, and as head of the Palma Athletic Council organized the prime fund-raising activities for the school that helped fund a synthetic track and turf football field and a new hardwood gym floor. In May of 2014 the Palma Board of Directors named the school’s gym after Steve Clayton, who passed in December of 2013.
Cornett burst into the golf scene in 1971 at the US Girls Junior Tournament. At North Salinas High School, she was the first female in Monterey County to compete in male varsity sports.
She earned All American honors at Stanford in 1975, the same year she won her first state women’s amateur title. She won again in 1983. Cornett competed in more than 50 USGA tournaments, qualified for the US Women’s Open eight times, was runner-up in the US Women’s Mid-Amateur in 1987, and was chosen captain of the US Curtis Cup Team in 2012. Golf Digest ranked Cornett the No. 7 best physician-golfer in the country and first among women.
In 1996, at 18, North Salinas star Ramiro Corrales went directly from high school into a professional, star-studded career for Major League Soccer’s San Jose Earthquakes. Corrales helped the Quakes to two MLS Cup titles (2001, 2003). He retired as their all-time leader in games played (250) and was among team leaders in assists and goals. Ramiro was inducted into the Earthquakes Hall of Fame in 2013. At the time, he was the last remaining active player from the league’s inaugural season. Corrales played in the 2012 MLS All-Star match and was a member of the 2000 USA Olympic & U.S. National teams.
The Palma football team was coming off five straight losing seasons when Costa was named coach in 1977. Twenty-three seasons later Costa's teams had chalked up 206 wins, including his years at Holy Cross (1964-69) and Marello Prep (1970-76) Costa totaled 253 career wins-fourth highest total in Central Coast Section history. His Palma teams won 16 consecutive league titles and six CCS championships. Through 2014 the Costa-coached Palma teams held the record for the longest unbeaten streak in CCS history at 48 games (47-0-1), done from 1989 to 1992.
Was an all-leaguer for the Salinas High School’s only unbeaten varsity basketball team (22-0 in 1954), was first-team All-State and third-team All-American for Hartnell College, and was a two-year starter for Oregon State University – team captain his senior year. He coached the Palma basketball team for 26 years, resulting in 14 league titles, four region IV crowns and three CCS Division IV titles. His 494 career victories ranks No. 2 on the all-time Salinas Valley prep coach’s basketball list.
The Salinas High graduate became one of the top guards in the history of the University of California Berkeley basketball program. He was voted team MVP three straight years from 1966-68 and was first-team all-conference twice. As of 2014 Critchfield ranked among the top 10 all-time scorers with 1,437 points-an average of 19.4 per game. He was a Helms Athletic Association All-American in 1968. He also played 2 years in the ABA with the Oakland Oaks.
Dalman, a Palma High graduate, was a four-year starting lineman at Stanford University and was named second-team All-Pac 10 in 1992. He was drafted in the sixth round by the San Francisco 49ers. Dalman was a member of the 49ers 1994 Super Bowl Championship team and played in three NFC championship games. He was selected to play in the Hula Bowl and East-West Shrine Game in 1993. From 2005-2006, he was the assistant offensive line coach for the Atlanta Falcons, then returned to Stanford as offensive line coach and running game coordinator until 2009.
Known as the “California Comet,” Davis rivaled Jesse Owens as the world’s fastest human in the early 1940s. Between 1940 and 1943, the Live Oak High School and Salinas Junior
College star was undefeated in the 220 and lost just once in the 100. Davis moved on to the University of California after Salinas JC. Famous for his closing kick, he won three national 100-meter crowns and four titles at 200 meters.
Deering was a 4-year varsity athlete at North Salinas High in volleyball, basketball and softball. She was Monterey County Athlete of the Year as a sophomore, junior and senior by the Salinas Californian. Was one of the elite softball pitchers in the Central Coast Section, striking out more than 800 hitters during her four over-powering years. She had 49 strikeouts in one game, which lasted 34 innings. She earned All-State and All-American honors. In her sophomore year at University of California-Berkeley she was awarded a full-ride scholarship after a walk-on with the basketball team. Was a pitcher on its 2002 NCAA national championship softball team. In her four years at Cal, she went 53-5 in 78 appearances. Deering was an assistant coach and recruiter for Boston University from 2006-09, with the team winning league titles in her first and last year. They qualified for the NCAA tourney in her last season and advanced to the regional championship game. As coach at Piedmont High in Oakland, in her first season the softball team won its first league crown in 13 years. Was named East Bay Coach of the Year by the Oakland Tribune. In addition, she founded the U-18 Gold Division club, an elite summer travel team. She was hired as an assistant coach in 2019 at Santa Clara University.
Ellen Wilson Deerman
Ellen Wilson, who attended Notre Dame High, is one of the most decorated women judoka in the U.S. She is a two-time Olympian – 2000 Sydney Games, 2004 Athens – and was also an alternate on the 1996 Olympic team. She was a gold medalist at the 1999 Pan American Judo Championships as well as a 5-time US National champion, 2-time British Open champion, 4-time World Team member and a gold medal winner at the 1996 and 1997 U.S. Senior Championships. In 2003 Wilson was Colorado’s Women’s Athlete of the Year. She reportedly won more than 1,500 judo matches during her career.
Terry Espinoza (El Coach) may have been a man for all seasons, but his greatest accomplishments at Alisal High came as a wrestling and softball coach. He went to Colorado State College on a full ride wrestling scholarship. He lettered four years in wrestling, four years in baseball and three years in football. His 11 varsity letters is a school record. Espinoza joined the Alisal faculty in 1968 and coached its wrestling team until 1984, claiming four league championships during a time when wrestling was at its peak in Monterey County. During his career the Alisal wrestling team was a consistent tournament contender, and in 1975 the Trojans captured the Central Coast Section title. He officiated high school wrestling from 1985 to 1993, and each year was selected to officiate the CCS championship matches. On retirement, Espinoza was honored with the Lifetime Achievement Award by the California Wrestling Hall of Fame. Additionally, during his 36 years at Alisal, Espinoza coached the school’s softball team to four league titles and was the athletic director for six years.
Palma High graduate Dave Esquer began his college career as a walk-on for the Stanford University baseball team and eventually became the starting shortstop for the Cardinal 1987 National Championship squad. In 1999, he was named head coach of the University of California-Berkeley baseball team. In 2011, he guided the Bears to the College World Series and was named National Coach of the Year. Esquer was also the 2001 Pac-10 Coach of the Year. After 18 years at Cal, Esquer was named head baseball coach at Stanford in 2017. He was a three-sport star and class valedictorian at Palma High and in his senior year was team captain and MVP in baseball, football and basketball.
David Estrada was born in Morelia, Michoacan, Mexico, was raised in Salinas and became one of the most prolific scorers in the nation as a senior on the Alisal High soccer team. He led the nation in goals scored his senior year at Alisal with 66, including 11 in one game, the second-most single-game goals in state history. As a freshman walk-on at UCLA, he was the team’s top scorer and named Soccer America’s National Freshman of the Year. He was a second-team All-Pac 10 selection that year and a first-team All-Pac 10 as a senior. In 2010 Estrada was the No. 11 pick overall in the Major League Soccer draft by the Seattle Sounders. In 2012 was named Sounders FC Humanitarian of the Year and in 2019 and 2020 he won the same award for New Mexico United. In his rookie year with the Sounders, he became third player in franchise history to record a hat trick and it also made him the first Mexican-born player to get a hat-trick in MLS history.
Gary was a two-time U.S. Olympic water polo player (1980 & 1984). He was a silver medalist in the 1984 Los Angeles Summer Olympic Games. Figueroa was twice named National Player of the Year, and once was chosen NCAA Player of the Year while at UC-Irvine. He was inducted into the U.S. Water Polo Hall of Fame in 1992. He was on the 1979 & 1983 Pan American gold medal teams. He was a U.S. water polo All-American in 1975, 1976, 1977, 1980, 1981, 1983 and 1986.
Regarded as one of the Salinas Valley’s premier football and baseball coaches. At Alisal High he was the varsity football & baseball coach, with his 1974 baseball team as Region IV champions. As an assistant football coach at Salinas High, they reached the CCS title game in 1979. Starting in 1980 he began a 10-year career as an assistant coach in the same two sports at Hartnell College. By the time the decade was over Filice was on a football staff that won eight conference championships and two state titles (1981-82) and one state crown in baseball. In that time Hartnell football went 84-21-3 and from 1980-83 went 39-4-2. In 1984 Filice and Frank Geller took over the Hartnell baseball team when head coach Tony Teresa was hospitalized and unable to travel to the state small-college playoffs in Chico. After a come-from-behind win in the semifinal game Hartnell beat Siskiyous 14-7 in the title contest. He was the Hartnell quarterback in 1964-65 and transferred to the University of Pacific for the next two years.
Joe Given was a mainstay at Notre Dame High, coaching the softball team for 30 years. His teams had a winning season each year, as he finished with 730 wins, third best in the state. Given led Notre Dame to 15 league championships and 12 Central Coast Section championships. The first CCS championship came in 1992, when Given led the Spirits to a 22-7 record. They won three times in the postseason, storming through Mercy-Burlingame, Redwood Christian and finally Half Moon Bay in the finals. The Spirits later won a state-record nine section championships in a row, from 1998-2006. In several of those years, the Spirits didn’t allow a run to an opponent. In 1998, Given was named CalHiSports’ Coach of the Year, as the Spirits went 31-2-1. In 2002 Given was named state softball Coach of the Year by the California Coaches Association and in 2011 was inducted into the California Coaches Association Hall of Fame.
Ricky Graham was considered by many to be one of the greatest dirt-track motorcycle racers in history. He won four American Motorcycle Championships, totaled 39 Grand National victories, seven Sportster Performance National wins and was the 1993 AMA Athlete of the Year. That same year he won 12 Grand National races, including six in a row – the longest win streak in AMA history. Graham showed his versatility by earning three top-5 finishes on pavement in the Harley-Davidson 883cc road racing events and competed in the Daytona 200 three times. In 2014 Ricky Graham was inducted into the Motorsports Hall of Fame.
Grim retired in 1989 as the winningest coach in the history of Hartnell College football, with a record of 106-36-4 over his 14-year career. Just once during the 1980s did the Panthers win fewer than eight games in a season. His teams had a winning percentage of .776 from 1980-1989 and earn nine bowl berths. From 1980-1984, Hartnell was undefeated in conference play. In 1999, Grim was inducted into the California Community College Football Coaches Association Hall of Fame.
Rudy Guevara grew up needing braces on both legs. But the 1973 Gonzales High graduate overcame his early-age challenges to eventually become a coach for the 1988 US Olympic wrestling team, and remained on the US National staff until 2003. At San Jose State he became a three-time PCAA wrestling champion at 126 pounds, finishing with a career record of 106-26. He qualified for the state wrestling meet in high school during his senior year and placed third. Guevara launched his coaching career by becoming an assistant wrestling coach for San Jose State. He spent 20 years as wrestling coach and teacher at Santa Teresa High in San Jose, while also serving as head coach and director of the San Jose USA Wrestling Club. He has been inducted into the San Jose State and Gonzales High hall of fames. In May of 2015 Guevara received a Lifetime Service honor from the National Wrestling Hall of Fame.
Cork Haddan coached the dynamic Alisal High varsity boys basketball teams of 1970 (27-3), 1971 (26-5) and 1972 (28-2). The Trojans made it to the championship game of the Central Coast Section all three years during a time when the tourney was open to league champions only. Alisal was the only public school basketball team to play in three consecutive CCS championship games until Burlingame did it 31 years later. The 1971 Alisal squad became the first from Monterey County to win a CCS title in any sport.
One of the standout players of the Alisal High boys basketball teams in the 1970s was Mark Haddan, son of coach Cork Haddan. Mark Haddan was on the 1971 team that won the CCS championship. A year later, the guard had the most prolific single-game scoring output in the history of the CCS, scoring 65 points in a game against Watsonville. The record still stands to this day. Haddan achieved the feat long before the three-point line existed. In the previous game against Watsonville, he poured in 55 points. The closest any player in the CCS has come has been in 1984, when Aptos High’s Bryan Holt scored 62 points. Haddan later became a coach for several schools. He led the 2001-02 King City High team to its best season in school history, going 21-6 overall, nearly doubling the school’s previous best for wins, as they won the Mission Trail Athletic League championship. Haddan is now a coach at Alvarez High, where he led the team two years ago to its first league championship in the near-two-decade history of the school.
In 1993, Alvin Harrison helped the North Salinas High track team to the California Interscholastic Federation state title. At the 1996 and 2000 Olympic games, he won multiple medals. Harrison won a gold medal in the 4x400 relay at the 1996 Atlanta Olympic Summer games. Running the second leg, his sprint down the homestretch gave USA the advantage. Alvin won a silver medal in the 400 meters at the 2000 Sydney Olympics. He and his twin brother, Calvin, made Olympic history in 2000 by becoming the first twins to ever win gold in the same relay – the 4x400. Alvin ran the first leg, Calvin the third. Alvin co-authored the book, Go to Your Destiny, with his brother that debuted on the Oprah Winfrey Show.
North Salinas High School sensation and member of the USA 2000 Summer Olympic track & field team, Calvin Harrison has set many records. In 1993, Harrison set a national high school record in the 400 meters (45.25 seconds). That year, the combined efforts of Calvin and twin brother, Alvin, earned North Salinas the CIF state track title. At the meet, Harrison beat national 800-meter record holder, Michael Granville, in the 200-meter sprint. Calvin was also named U.S. Track & Field News high school Athlete of the Year and the Central Coast Section Track & Field Athlete of the Year. Calvin and his twin brother, Alvin, made Olympic history in 2000 by becoming the first twins to ever win gold in the same relay – the 4x400.
Debbie Hudson’s King City ties remain strong, then as a student-athlete and today as a coach. When Hudson attended King City High in the 1970s, cross-country, cheerleading and track were the only sports available for girls. Hudson participated in all three sports. Hudson was on the 1974 King City High track and field team that won the first CCS track and field championship. The Mustangs finished tied with Menlo-Atherton for first place. Hudson later became a girls volleyball coach, where the team has constantly been in contention for MTAL championships. In 1990, Hudson coached the Mustangs to the CCS Division II championship, defeating Santa Cruz, Aptos, Harbor and South San Francisco along the way. In the finals, King City rallied down a set and won the next three to beat South San Francisco. But they didn’t stop there. The Mustangs also won the Northern California championship and advanced to the state finals. The Mustangs have reached the CCS girls volleyball playoffs for more than 30 consecutive years, a county record.
Terri Huff was a dominating player for Notre Dame-Salinas in the mid to late 1970's to the point of perhaps being the greatest female basketball player in the history of Monterey County. After leading the Spirits to a 29-3 overall record and a Central Coast Section title in 1978 Huff was selected to the 10-girl Parade Magazine All-American team. She averaged 28 points, 17 rebounds and 9 assists per game and was the only girl from California chosen. Huff shot 60 percent from the field and 86 percent from the free-throw line. She was also named to the Addidas and Kodak All-American teams and was the CCS MVP.
Imlay arrived in 1920 to play and to teach the game of football to Salinas High players and fans. As captain of the University of California team, he earned All-West Coast honors in 1924 and 1925 and All-American status in 1925. He quarterbacked the West team to victory in the first East-West Shrine game in 1925. An NFL pioneer, Imlay started for and coached the Los Angeles Buccaneers in 1926 and the champion New York Giants in 1927. After football, Inlay chose a career in military aviation, setting several records for long-distance flying in the late 1920s. In World War II, he flew bombers against the Axis and rose to the rank of colonel.
The Salinas High graduate won the Daytona 500 in 1991. He spent 13 years on the NASCAR circuit with 15 victories and three Busch Series wins. In 1993, he was named Super Ford Magazine drive of the Year. In 1998, he was named one of NASCAR’s 50 greatest drivers. He was inducted into the Stock Car Hall of Fame in 2002.Irvan had a career 124 Top-10 NAS-
CAR Sprint Cup Series finishes and 68 Top-5 Winston Cup finishes. In 1995, he won the
Maxwell House Sprint Award for his comeback after a 1994 accident at Michigan Speedway.
Kaiser was a key figure in the Salinas-area golf community for decades. He was the Northern California PGA Teacher of the Year in 1990, and listed as one of the top golf instructors in California by Golf Digest in 2001. Cotton was awarded the Jim Langley Hall of Fame Award posthumously in 2015, and is in the Monterey Bay area PGA Hall of Fame. He tutored many of the finest area golfers, such as eight-time Women’s Open Champion Pat Cornett, two-time California amateur champion Mike Brannan, eventual PGA pro John Flannery and USC All-American Terrence Miskell. Kaiser organized the popular Little People’s golf tournament for kids at Sherwood Greens and the Salinas Junior Championships at Salinas Fairways. His Cotton & Bob’s golf tourney was one of the most popular in town for years. Kaiser started his career as golf pro at Salinas Golf and Country Club in 1958.
Born in Santa Fe, New Mexico, Kapp moved to Salinas with his family while in third grade, went to El Sausal Middle School in east Salinas then spent his freshman and sophomore years at Salinas High School. He is the only player to quarterback teams in the Super Bowl (Vikings), Rose Bowl (Cal-Berkeley) and the Grey Cup (BC Lions). He came to the BC Lions in 1961 in a trade for four starting players-the biggest trade ever made in the CFL at the time. Kapp played eight years in the CFL, three years with the NFL Minnesota Vikings (1967-69) and one year with the Boston Patriots. He was a four-time CFL All-Star and a 1969 NFL Pro Bowl selection.
Salinas High track and field teams in the 1950s and became a respected administrator. After serving as principal of Salinas High and vice principal of North High, Kearney was named Alisal High School’s first principal in 1965.
He remained active in track and field, serving as starter at track meets around the city, in-
cluding the Bill Kearney Invitational meet, inaugurated in 1991. Kearney honed his love of running at the University of California Berkeley.
Under Bob Kelley’s leadership as athletic director, Hartnell College developed one of the most recognized athletic programs in the state. Four of his coaches went on to be inducted into the California Community College Hall of Fame. Kelley directed one of the most successful rodeo teams in the state, winning five titles competing against four colleges. Kelley played for the Philadelphia Eagles from 1965-1966. In 1967, he was a member of the Canadian Football League Grey Cup Champion Hamilton Tiger Cats.
Between 1953 and 1955, King held every Salinas High lightweight and varsity running record from the 75-yard dash to the 880-yard run. As a sophomore, he won an unprecedented three events at the North Coast Section meet, setting a record in the 660-yard run. In 1954, he was the fastest high school quarter-miler in the country with a 48.3. After high school, he joined the Army and ran track while stationed in Italy. He returned to Salinas in 1957 to train for the 1960 Olympics in Rome. He passed away in a car accident on February 23, 1958. He was only 21.
Ken Kline coached the King City High girls’ basketball team into a perennial powerhouse during his nearly three decades of service. From 1979 to 2008 his basketball program reached the Central Coast Section playoffs 26 consecutive years, won two section titles and 14 Mission Trail Athletic League crowns. His 1992 team was a section champion by compiling an overall record of 30-1. His teams finished either first or second in the MTAL in every season but one. Kline’s overall win total of 524 ranked No. 4 in the section and No. 10 in the state at the time of his retirement. In his 29 years and 745 games he was whistled for only one technical foul. He has also been inducted into the King City High and St. Bernards High (Eureka) hall of fames.
A Salinas High graduate who was a member of Cal's 1959 NCAA Basketball championship team. Langley was the head golf pro at Cypress Point for 34 years. In 2003 he was inducted into the California Golf Writers Hall of Fame. Two years later he was named Northern California Golf Pro of the Year. In 2008 the Northern California PGA Foundation created an event specifically in his honor: The Langley-A Tribute to Legends. The only two names given an honorable membership at Cypress Point are Jim Langley and President Dwight D. Eisenhower.
Lehnen was often referred to as “The Dean’’ of local sports and for good reason. Lehnen was the sports anchor for KSBW-TV Action News 8 for 35 years – the longest broadcast career in the station’s then 62-year history. His coverage of high school football – highlighted by his High School Playbook Blitz every Friday night during the season – was the most watched local high school sports show since it debuted in 1998. Lehnen covered all the bases during his time at KSBW including all five San Francisco 49er Super Bowls, the three San Francisco Giants World Series titles, 35 AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am golf tournaments, Mario Andretti’s final IndyCar race at Laguna Seca and three decades of the California Rodeo Salinas.
For more than 40 years Dick Leonard dedicated his life to youth sports programs in the Salinas-area. In 1968 Leonard played a major role in the growth of the Monterey Bay Youth Football League. He was the first coach of the Salinas Broncos and Colts, helped launch the North Monterey County Bulldogs, Alisal Eagles, Alvarez Titans and revived a struggling Watsonville Pop Warner program. In 2008 the Monterey Bay Youth Football League named its championship trophies the Dick Leonard Memorial Trophy. In 1969 he implemented the first Little League all-star teams in Salinas Valley, and was also instrumental in developing girls’ softball programs. At the age of 70 Leonard became head coach of the Alisal High varsity football team.
In his senior year at King City High School in 1962, Mankins led all of Northern California in rushing and receiving. He was chosen Northern California Player of the Year. Bud Wilkinson, the famed U. of Oklahoma coach, personally flew to King City to recruit Mankins. Mankins later elected to go to Hartnell College where he became a Junior College All-American, then accepted a scholarship to Florida State and was a standout for the Seminoles in the Sun Bowl. He also played in the East-West Shrine game that season. Following two years with the Atlanta Falcons, Mankins helped the Ottawa Rough Riders to a CFL Grey Cup title. He placed second in the game’s MVP voting. In all, Mankins played seven years of professional football.
A Salinas native, Martinez was one of the United States’ premier weightlifters for nearly two decades. He was a four-time USA Weightlifter of the Year and a 10-time US National
Champion—nine of those as a Super Heavyweight. Martinez was a three-time Olympian.
He won a silver medal in the 1984 Games, placed eighth in the 1992 Olympic Games, and
fourth in the 1998 Olympic Games. Martinez won gold, silver and bronze medals at three different Pan Am Games (1987, 1991, and 1995) and a bronze medal at the 1994 Goodwill Games.
Messner was Salinas High School’s sole varsity basketball coach from 1947 to 1972. His teams won six league championships. Messner’s legacy, however, is more about building winning character than it is about winning basketball teams. He had a special gift to wring the very most out of his players and instill in them an abiding love of the game. It’s no coincidence that many of his former players became remarkable high school basketball coaches themselves. Messner died September 28, 1977. His front-page obituary in the Salinas Californian aptly dubbed him “Salinas’ Mr. Basketball.”
Montejano blossomed as a dominant basketball player for North Salinas High in the 1988-89 season. She averaged 32 points and nearly 20 rebounds per game. That season, the Vikings snapped two lengthy streaks: Southern California power La Quinta’s 78-game home-court win streak and King City’s 58-game home-court streak. While taking North Salinas to a 29-2 record in 1989, Montejano was MVP of the elite LaQuinta Holiday Tournament and was also MVP of the Monterey Bay League for the second year in a row. At Henderson State College, she was a dominating volleyball player. She was MVP of the Gulf South Conference twice and in both years was named to the NCAA All-Region squad while also qualifying for All-American honors. Montejano was the GSC Player of the Year in 1996. In 1994, she tallied 197 solo blocks for Henderson State, which led to a school career-best 336 blocks. In 2007, Montejano was inducted into the Henderson State Hall of Fame.
With deep Monterey County roots, Xavier Nady played more than a decade for several Major League Baseball teams. The 1997 Salinas High alum was drafted by the San Diego Padres in second round of the 2000 MLB draft, 49th overall, following his junior year at UC Berkeley. He was the 18th player in MLB history to immediately go to the major leagues. While with the Lake Elsinore Storm, Nady was the Padres’ Minor League Player of the Year in 2001 as well as the California League Most Valuable Player and Rookie of the Year. Nady played for eight MLB teams, where he won World Series championships with the 2009 New York Yankees and 2012 San Francisco Giants. His best MLB season was 2008, where he hit 25 home runs and totaled 97 RBIs with the Yankees and Pittsburgh Pirates. He finished his career with 104 home runs and 410 RBIs along with a .268 batting average. Nady was one of 13 players inducted into the inaugural California League Hall of Fame. Nady currently is a hitting coach.
In 2012 Carl Nicks, a graduate of North Salinas High and Hartnell College – where he was rated the seventh best prospect in the state by a national news service - signed the richest contract for an offensive lineman in the history of the NFL in 2012 with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. He was drafted by the New Orleans Saints out of the U. of Nebraska in 2009 and played in all 16 games as a rookie. Nicks was selected to the Pro Bowl in 2010 and 2011. He was chosen first-team All-Pro in 2011. That same year he earned a Super Bowl ring when the Saints won Super Bowl XLIV.
A three-sport student-athlete at North Salinas High, Kassim Osgood went on to make his mark in college football and the NFL. Osgood played 12 seasons in the NFL, starting with the San Diego Chargers and finishing with the San Francisco 49ers. He was a three-time Pro Bowl selection on special teams in 2007, 2008 and 2010. At Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, Osgood led the nation in receiving yards for Division I-AA schools. He averaged 125 receiving yards for game, second best in the nation. He totaled 376 yards against Northern Iowa, a Division I-AA record. Osgood later transferred to San Diego State, where he was second in the nation in catches with 104. At 119 receiving yards per game, he was fourth in the nation.
For more than three decades, O’Sullivan turned high school track teams into powers. He coached Palma for six years, and then in 1982, started his 27-year run at North Monterey County High. In the 19 years, between 1984 and 2010, his teams won 18 titles in the Santa Cruz Coast Athletic League, Monterey Bay Athletic League and Mission Trail Athletic League. His boys’ varsity track teams had a dual meet record of 121-2 and his girls’ track teams went 72-9. In 1992, he was named CCS Honor Coach of the Year and in 2007 he was chosen Salinas Valley Teacher of the Year.
After a standout career at Salinas High, Hartnell College and the University of New Mexico, Plumlee was drafted by the New York Jets of the upstart AFL in 1965. An all-around athlete, he played tight end, defensive end and offensive lineman. Plumlee spent two years with the Jets, one with the Winnipeg Bluebombers of the CFL and part of one season with the Buffalo Bills. At Salinas High, he topped the league in touchdowns, receptions and yardage as a senior in 1960. At Hartnell, he led the conference in receiving. In his two years at New Mexico, he helped the Lobos claim back-to-back WAC titles while setting a school record for most receptions in a game and earning All-Conference honors as senior.
Raine-Lee was MVP in basketball, softball and volleyball. The North High graduate was named Salinas Valley’s Female Athlete of the Century in 1999 by readers of the Salinas Californian. She pitched the Vikings to a CCS softball title in 1986 and coached them to a title in 1997. Before there was a three-point line, Raine-Lee scored a record 36 points in a single game for the Vikings. Raine-Lee earned a softball scholarship to Indiana University and was named First-Team All Big 10 as a pitcher. She was an All-Midwest Regional team
selection after throwing three no-hitters with a season-best ERA of 0.67.
Jim Rear kept the legacy of Alisal High boys’ basketball going strong by claiming 8 league titles from 1983-1997 and reaching the Central Coast Section playoffs 17 times, advancing to the finals or semi-finals 7 times. Was chosen league Coach of the Year 9 times and Monterey County Coach of the Year 6 times. During his 21 years at Alisal and 7 at Alvarez, Rear compiled 394 wins. He was selected to the Gatorade Coaches Care National Honor Roll in 1995 and was among the first to be inducted into the Alisal High Hall of Fame. As a high school senior, Rear was the Homestead High Athlete of the Year in 1967. He retired as the executive director of the Sunrise House after 25 years in 2015.
The Salinas High graduate was called “one of the greatest martial arts masters of the 20th century’’ in a TNT special produced by Wesley Snipes. Kick Illustrated Magazine bestowed the title of “Master of Creative Karate’’ on Ernie Reyes. He has been inducted into the Black Belt Hall of Fame, was the California State Tae Kwon Do Grand Champion, the USA National Tae Kwon Do champion and received the Lifetime Achievement Award by the Martial Arts Industry Association. He has had roles in many movies and television projects, including a Disney series “Sidekicks’’ with his son Ernie Jr. As an instructor Reyes’ internationally famous West Coast World Action team was praised as the No. 1 martial arts demo team in the world by Bushido Magazine in Europe.
Rodgers’ lightening speed and agility on the football field for North High earned him the nickname of Popcorn. Rodgers staged quite a show leading North High to the 1977 sec-
tion championship playoff series by scoring seven touchdowns in three games, capped by a 240-yard, 2-touchdown effort in the semifinal game. He moved on to the University of Utah where he was the university’s first-ever 1,000-yard rusher, and in 1981 tied the school record of 13 touchdowns in a season. Rodgers was selected in the third round of the 1982
NFL draft by the Green Bay Packers, where he played for four years. He played for the San Francisco 49ers and was part of their 1989 Super Bowl Championship team.
Jim Rodriguez, Jr
Born in Watsonville and a Salinas High alum, Jim Rodriguez was a four-time team-roping champion of the California Rodeo Salinas. He became the youngest winner ever of this event in 1957 at the age of 18. He also won the title in 1958, 1960 and 1962. Rodriguez was a five-time All-Around Cowboy champion of the Salinas Rodeo, winning it outright in 1962, 1968, and 1971 and finishing as co -champion in 1958 and 1960. He also won the tie-down buckle in 1968. He finished among the Top 15 in the Pro Rodeo Cowboys Association for 19 consecutive years, qualifying each time for the National Finals Rodeo. He was a four-time world champion. In 1979, Rodriguez was inducted into the Pro Rodeo Hall of Fame.
Johnie Schneider was one of the top riders on the Pro Rodeo Cowboys Association circuit for years. He was inducted into the PRCA Hall of Fame in 1992. He was the Salinas Rodeo bull riding champion in 1934, 1935 and 1937. In 1933, he was the Salinas Rodeo All-Around champion and in 1938 the Steer Decorator champion. Schneider won four World titles – All-Around Cowboy in 1931 and bull riding in 1929, 1930 and 1932. He rode is first bull at age 13 in the Salinas Rodeo.
In a sport where pitching typically dominates, Notre Dame High graduate Lindsay Schutzler was a hitting machine in fastpitch softball at the Division I college level. From 2004 to 2007 Schutzler was a 3-time All-American and Academic All-American at the University of Tennessee. She became the school’s all-time record holder in career hits (326), triples (20), runs scored (241) and stolen bases (120). Her .383 career batting average was fifth best in U. of Tennessee history. In 2006 Schutzler played for USA softball and won a gold medal in the World University Games in Taiwan. The next year she was the No. 1 pick of the Chicago Bandits in the National Pro Fastpitch draft. While at Notre Dame she won three straight league batting titles with a career average of .456 and led the Spirits to three straight Central Coast Section crowns. She earned All-State and Louisville Slugger All-America honors her junior and senior year.
From 1969 to 2006 Gary Shaw coached the Hartnell College men’s and women’s track and cross country teams to unparalleled success. His men’s track team won 29 Coast Conference titles, including 11 straight from 1987 to 1997 – while the women claimed 15 from 1980 to 2006. His men’s cross-country teams captured 10 conference championships and five NorCal crowns, and the women earned eight conference titles and three NorCal crowns. The men’s track team won 95 percent of their dual meets under Shaw (124-16) while the women won 90 percent of their dual meets (222-27).
A graduate of Salinas High and a former stringer for the Salinas Californian, Alan Shipnuck wrote his first Sports Illustrated cover story as a 21-year-old intern. Upon graduating UCLA in 1996, he became the youngest staff writer in the magazine’s history. Shipnuck wrote two dozen cover stories for SI, including “Sportsman of the Year” features on Brett Favre (2007) and Michael Phelps (’08). In 2008, he became the first writer to place first in both the feature and news categories in the annual writing competition conducted by the Golf Writers Association of America. He has won 12 first-place awards, breaking the record of Dan Jenkins, a member of the World Golf Hall of Fame. Shipnuck is the author of eight books, including national best-sellers Bud, Sweat & Tees; The Swinger (with Michael Bamberger); and PHIL. In 2021, he left Golf Magazine to co-found his own golf media company, the Fire Pit Collective.
The Salinas High School graduate is well-known for being one of the top golf instructors in the country. Among the honors;
--Was named one of America’s 50 best teachers by Golf Digest starting in 2007.
--National PGA Teacher of the Year in 2003.
--Selected Top 100 teachers in America by Golf Magazine, one of the most prestigious honors a golf pro can attain.
--In 2002 was awarded the Master Professional, with a specialty certification in Teaching and Coaching.
--Was chosen NorCal Teacher of the Year in 1996.
Laird has served as director of the Pebble Beach Golf Academy and helped develop the Pebble Beach Junior Golf Association.
He is the author of, “Play Golf the Pebble Beach Way."
The Palma High graduate became a premiere bullrider for 19 years on the Wrangler World Bullfighting championship circuit from 1981-2000. He finished among the top six 17 times and was a five-time world champion. Smets was a 17-time National Finals Rodeo qualifier and a nine-time Pro Bull Rider world champion. A regular at the California Rodeo Salinas, Smets, known professionally as "The Kamikaze Kid," was inducted into the Pro Rodeo Hall of Fame in 2006 and the Texas Rodeo Cowboy Hall of Fame in 2010.
The King City High School graduate coached a powerhouse Hartnell College football program. From 1960 to 1969, Smith’s teams compiled a 68-28-2 record with a .708 winning percentage, both of which rank No. 2 in Hartnell football history. Smith’s 1967 9-1-1 team won the state championship and averaged more than 40 points per game. Smith and his wife Nadine helped organize the Hartnell Quarterback Club. He was also coach of the college’s golf team.
Raymond Herbert "Whitey" Smith
After two sizzling years on the Salinas High varsity football team where Herbert “Whitey’’ Smith lead the Cowboys to a combined 16-1-1 record (1933-34), he earned a football scholarship to St. Mary’s of Moraga and was its starting fullback in 1937-38-39. He led the team in scoring all three years and scored the winning touchdown against Texas Tech in the 1939 Cotton Bowl and the winning score against rival Cal in 1939. Smith, a Gonzales native, was drafted into the NFL in 1939 by the Cleveland Rams. He was inducted into the Salinas High and St. Mary’s Hall of Fame, and was nicknamed “Pride of Salinas’’ by the Salinas newspaper, “Index-Journal,’’ in September of 1938.
Terri Sonniksen might not have built Notre Dame - even if she did help with the construction of the basketball gym – but she certainly helped with the growth. She spent 41 years at Notre Dame from 1975-2016 as an athletic director and teacher where she became a key figure of a school that has become one of the most recognized in the Central Coast Section. In addition to upgrading the softball field, adding a weight room and creating the booster club in 1980 she also instituted track and field, cross country, swimming and diving, soccer, field hockey and water polo to the Spirit sports program. Among the honors she earned along the way was the CCS Distinguished Service Award in 2002, the California State Athletic Director’s Association AD of the Year in 2008-09, and the CCS Athletic Director of the year in 1996-97. During her time Sonniksen coached at one time or another nearly every sport on campus: golf, soccer, volleyball, tennis and track. The school’s 1978 basketball team finished third in state. In addition, from 1977-2016 Notre Dame won a league or section title in either basketball, volleyball, softball, soccer, track, and tennis.
Susan Springer Garcia
By the time Susan Springer Garcia graduated from Salinas High in 1979 she was not only the most decorated track and field girl in the history of the Salinas Valley, but likely the most dominant of any Salinas-area track athlete. Springer Garcia won Central Coast Section titles in discus all four years and added shot put titles to her collection in her sophomore, junior and senior years for a grand total of 7 section championships. She set CCS records in both events as a junior, and broke both records again as a senior. At the state meet level Springer Garcia earned three second-place finishes and one third place in the discus while placing third, fourth and fifth in the shot put. She accepted a track scholarship to the University of California-Berkeley and set school records in the shot put and discus. Springer Garcia also represented the United States in the Junior Olympics in Mexico City.
Teresa’s influence ramains as strong today as it did when he was a football and baseball coach for Hartnell College in the 1970s to the 1980s. He was named Salinas Valley’s Athlete
of the Century in 1999 by readers of the Salinas Californian. Teresa caught the historic game-tying touchdown pass on the final play of the game in the 1952 Junior Rose Bowl with two broken wrists. As a member of the original 1960 Oakland Raiders, he was voted the Mr. Heart award winner. Teresa was inducted into the San Jose State and California Community College Coaches Hall of Fame. He coached the Hartnell baseball team to a state title in 1984. The Hartnell baseball field is named after him.
James Brewster Thompson
James Brewster Thompson was the NCAA judo champion in 1975 and 1977, earned a bronze medal in the 1975 Pan American games, was first in the World Masters Judo Championship in the age 45-49 division in 2001 and second in the nation in the heavyweight division at age 41 and 47. In Sumo wrestling the North Salinas High and Hartnell College placed third in the Nationals in 2014 at age 61. He represented the US in five World Championships – three for Sumo Wrestling and two for judo. In addition, Thompson has done motivational talks to kids on the danger of drugs and alcohol. He does much of it with a jump rope exhibition that put him in Ripley’s Believe It or Not in 1991 and the Guinness World Record book in 2011 when he skipped a rope 10 times with three people hanging on to him with a combined weight of 410 pounds. He has been on David Letterman, the Today Show, America’s Got Talent, made two appearances at the White House and had a role in five motion pictures, including Lionheart.
Ferd Tihista was born on Christmas day 1927, and it wouldn’t be surprising if he unwrapped a set of dumbbells the same day. Even though he didn’t start his body building career until 1942, it was before the Joe Weider – credited with being the creator of the bodybuilding empire – influence set it. A graduate of Salinas High, Tihista and his wife started Apollo Studios bodybuilding chain up and down the West Coast that prided itself on natural bodybuilding without any muscle enhancement. He’s won the Mr. World, Mr. Apollo and just about every other bodybuilding event held in the 1950s and 60s. A world-class judo and bodybuilder, Tihista was still working out and teaching judo into his 90s. He competed in the World Masters Heavyweight Judo Championships until he was 82 years old. He was a regular in the Senior Masters Judo Championships and was a USA national judo champion.
The North High and Hartnell College football and track standout won the Central Coast Section 400-meter run and placed fourth in the state in the 200. At Hartnell, he was conference champ in the 100, 200 and was a member of the championship 400-meter relay team. Toney ran for a single-season record 25 touchdowns for Hartnell in 1982. He then led Texas A&M to a 1985 Southwest Conference Championship and a 1986 Cotton Bowl victory. He was drafted 37th overall by the Philadelphia Eagles in 1986. He played in the NFL for five years, rushing for 2,200 yards, 14 touchdowns and 1,031 receiving yards.
LONG DISTANCE RUNNER
She went out for track at Hartnell College in 1978 with the goal of losing five pounds. In the process Trujillo broke the Hartnell record in the 3,000 and 5,000 meter runs, earned a full-ride scholarship to Arizona State where she broke the school’s 10,000-meter record, and in 1984 represented Mexico in the Los Angeles Summer Olympics, finishing 25th in 2:38.30. She won the gold medal in the women’s marathon at the 1995 Pan American Games. She was named by Runner’s World Magazine as the No. 1 female distance runner in the U.S. in 1990. She qualified for five consecutive U.S. Olympic Trials (1988, 1992, 1996, 2000, 2004) and two world championship marathons.
Dick Tuttle spent more than 32 years as a coach, teacher and administrator with the Salinas Union High School District. In 2009 he was inducted into the Salinas High School Hall of Fame after serving 10 years as the head varsity football coach, starting in 1963. A legendary fastpitch softball pitcher Tuttle pitched for 39 years – 25 of those in the Salinas area. He was the founding member of the Board of Directors for the Committee for the Preservation of Fastpitch Softball in Salinas. Tuttle was once picked up by a team in Benicia and helped it to the Western Regional tourney title by pitching four games in two days. He also organized, financed and coached semi-pro baseball in 1961 and 1962, until minor league baseball returned to Salinas. Tuttle was a member of the Northern California Golf Association and Salinas Fairways Men’s Golf Club for 18 years. He was tournament director for nine years and president for three years.
Watkins was a sports writer with the Salinas Californian for 37 of his 40-year career. He won several awards from Gannett (parent company of the Californian) for his columns. In 2011, he was given the Media Award by the California Coaches Association. On his retirement in 2014, CCS officials honored him with the Elgie Bellizio Award. Memorable columns featured prep sports, leaders, and coverage of events, such as the California Rodeo, Laguna Seca Raceway, Big Sur Marathon and AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am. His writing helped keep the spirit and history of Monterey County sports alive to readers of the Salinas Californian.
In January of 2014 Warren Wayland became the first person to be recognized for a second time by the Salinas Valley Chamber of Commerce as its Citizen of the Year. The honor came soon after the completion of Rabobank Stadium, which Wayland was the driving force in raising of the nearly $10 million football/soccer park. He was also a key figure in the design, construction and fundraising of the Salinas Sports Complex, the adjacent five-field softball diamonds as well as the Storm House.
Gonzales High football was at its peak under Larry Welsh, who coached the Spartans from 1966-75). During that span Gonzales went 69-18-1 with 33 shutouts. He was the defensive coordinator and linebacker coach at Cal State Fullerton from 1976-78, and then turned the Atascadero High football program into a powerhouse. During his 18 years at Atascadero, starting in 1979, his teams set a state record for most wins in a decade during the 1980s. Welsh won seven CIF titles, including four in a row in the mid 1990s. He was named California State Coach of the Year in 1995 by Cal-Hi Prep Magazine.
1952 Hartnell College Football Team
Considered to be the most honored, revered and recognized team of any sport in the Salinas Valley. In 1952 The Panthers went 10-0-1, outscored the opposition 280-72 and became the first team from Northern California to be invited to play in the annual Junior Rose Bowl game in Pasadena. On Dec. 13, 1952 Hartnell squared off against Bacone College of Oklahoma in the Junior Rose Bowl. Trailing 20-14, Hartnell stopped Bacone on the Panthers’ 1-yard-line with 2:11 to play and thus began the heroic drive that created the legend of the 1952 Panthers. Hartnell’s drive appeared to end at the Bacone 16-yard line, but a penalty allowed the Panthers one more play after time expired. Chuck Dillard then hit Tony Teresa with the game-tying touchdown pass. The extra point was blocked. The game ended 20-20, but the legend was just beginning.
1971 Alisal Boy's Basketball Team
Alisal was the first team from the Salinas Valley to win a Central Coast Section championship in any sport, boys or girls. That
championship squad was part of a three-year stretch where they strung together records of 27-5, 27-3 and 28-2, the champions being the second of those three teams. In the early ages of the CCS, only league champions — there were 11 in 1970 and 1971 and 12 in 1972 — advanced to the CCS playoffs. Doing one better than the 1970 squad that got to the finals and finished runner-up, Alisal defeated Mitty 59-57 to win the 1971 championship. The coach of the Alisal squad was Cork Haddan, a previous Salinas Valley Sports Hall of Fame inductee.
1976 Salinas American Little League Softball All-Star World Champion Team
In 1976, a group of girls aged 11-12, mostly from the east Salinas area, quietly and almost unnoticed, slipped out of town and made history by becoming the city’s first team to claim a Little League World Series title. There were only enough girls for four teams that year in the Salinas American Little League program – 48 girls in all and half of them were 10 or under. From the remaining group of 24, 14 were selected to the All-Star team. They went 4-0 in the single-elimination District 9 tournament, 3-0 in the sectionals and 2-0 in the Western Regionals. From there it was on to the Little League World Series in Portland, Ore. Salinas beat Queens, N.Y. 7-3 in the semifinals then toppled Sturgeon Bay, Wis., 4-0 in the championship game. Team roster: Kristie Sullivan, Tina Hester, Sandy Fuerte, Karre Melchisedech, Leslie Deaton, Hopi Cota, Renita Gachete, Debbie Cortez, Charlene Armstrong, Robin Aman, Stella Garcia, Diana Alvarez, Teresa Ortiz, Clara Mejia. Coaches: Stan Silva, Fred Dilbeck, Kathy Silva.
1978 Notre Dame
Girl's Basketball Team
The 1978 Notre Dame Girls Basketball CCS Championship Team The 1978 Notre Dame girl’s basketball team (members of the Monterey Bay League) finished the year with a 26-2 overall record and a third-place finish in the state tournament. The Spirits won the Region IV title and Central Coast Section crown to advance to the state finals (then called Tournament of Champions). Notre Dame claimed victories over Rio Americano of Sacramento (48-35) and Locke High of Los Angeles (50-36) before falling in the semifinals to San Joaquin Memorial of Fresno, 43-35. The Spirits accomplished all this despite the death of their coach, Bob Hagen, early in the season. Team members are: Laura Garvin, Dianna Piazza, Letty Villalobos, Kelly Nicholls, Terri Huff, Norma Villalobos, Cindy Cortopassi, MaryAnn Little, Sheryl Given, Anne Huff
1990 King City Girls Volleyball Team
It was an historic season for the 1990 King City girls’ volleyball squad by becoming the first high school team in the Salinas Valley to reach a state final event. The Mustangs lost their first pre-season match in five games, then went on to sweep every opponent in three sets the rest of the way in the regular season. King City won the CCS D-II title by defeating Santa Cruz, Aptos and Harbor, and advanced to the state finals after capturing the NorCal crown with wins over Manteca, Northgate and El Dorado. King City, a team that extended the school’s MTAL win streak to 91, was beaten by defending champion La Habra (25-0 overall) in the state title match. The 11-girl King City team consisted of Susan Kim, Cruzita Avery, Annette Venegas, Norma Hernandez, Jennifer McMahon, Amy McMahon, Jessica Turner, Sandy Lazzaroni, Heather Campbell, Judy Murillo and Nancy Flores. The coach was Debbie Hudson.
1992 Palma Boy's Basketball Team
In 1992 the Palma Chieftains became the first – and through 2015 – the only boys basketball team from Monterey County to win a state title. They ended the season on an 18-game win streak and finished 29-2 overall. To reach the state D-IV title game Palma beat WCAL champion Mitty (66-47), Bret Harte (75-51), Drake (55-47) and Cardinal Newman (56-47). The Chieftains played Lincoln Prep of San Diego in the state title game. They trailed 54-53, but center Brandon Peterson tipped in what proved to be the winning basket with 18 seconds to go to give Palma a 55-54 win.
1996 Salinas Storm Softball 16U Team
This fast-pitch team became the first in Salinas Valley history to crack the Top 10 national rankings, at the elite ASA National tournament in Chattanooga, Tenn. The Storm finished with a winning record in all nine major tournaments of that year. They were consistent finishing in the top three of every tourney they played in. The Storm went 9-2 in the Hall of Fame qualifier, 3-0 in the NorCal qualifier and 5-0 in the Pacific Coast Regional. At the national tournament the Storm lost a close game (2-1) to eventual champion San Jose Lady Sharks. A strong finish to the tournament earned them a ranking of seventh in the nation. The team’s final record against a challenging schedule was 45-11. Team members: Beth Roberts, Jackie Wayland, Jennifer Deering, Kelly Schultz, Kristi Jimenez, Lorrens Munoz Nelson, Michelle Chacon, Nicole Dansby, Shamala White, Shannon Allioti, Suzy Cobb-Jarschke, Terra Blankenbecler Brom, Valerie Edwards Peterson.
Coaches: John & Laura Given, Janice Wayland Bramers, Jaime Wayland Nolan.