By John Crumpacker
LAS VEGAS -- There were tears, there were laughs, there were poignant anecdotes. Mostly, though, there was heartfelt gratitude from the 10 inductees to the 2016 West Coast Conference Hall of Honor.
One by one, inductees expressed gratitude for being given the opportunity by their schools to get an education while playing sports and gratitude to the conference for honoring them in Saturday morning’s ceremonies.
“I’d like to thank my school, Santa Clara, for thinking of me,’’ two-sport athlete Randy Winn said. “It is truly great. I’m really grateful for my experience in the WCC. I really pull for this conference. I walked on at Santa Clara in both sports (baseball and basketball). I had to work my way up. Santa Clara and the WCC provided me an opportunity to showcase my skills, showcase my abilities.’’
David Vann credited playing basketball at Saint Mary’s for helping him develop into the man he is today.
“Today is an opportunity for me to say thank you,’’ Vann said. “Saint Mary’s gave me far more than anything I contributed. I had an awesome time there. I had an opportunity to receive a great education. I also had an opportunity to make great friends.’’
Vann, who played for Saint Mary’s from 1978-82, closed his remarks at the podium by saying, “Remember, God is, and always will be, a Gael.’’
That wasn’t even the funniest thing Vann said during his time on stage. He related a story of the Gaels playing San Francisco and Bill Cartwright when he was a freshman. There was a scramble under the basket and the 7-foot-1 Cartwright came down with a rebound.
“He said, ‘Little man, get out of the paint before you get hurt.’ It was at that point I realized I wasn’t in high school anymore,’’ Vann said.
Before Ron Cornelius led Pacific to the 1978 NCAA Tournament, he had to try out for his high school team in Santa Ana. He related a story of his mother taking him to K-Mart to buy sneakers for his tryout. They were K-Mart brand, had gum soles that squeaked when he ran on the court and cost $2.22, he recalled.
“She’s my hero. She’s my rock,’’ Cornelius said. His parents divorced when he was nine and his father eventually moved to Las Vegas. He died several years ago and was interred in a cemetery in town. He visited his father’s gravesite on Friday.
“He was my inspiration in life,’’ Cornelius said.
Portland’s Bill Krueger, another two-sport athlete in college, noted that his Pilots managed to defeat Cartwright and USF once during his time there from 1975-80. Krueger thanked his parents, his baseball coach (Joe Etzel) and the university itself.
“I’m definitely overwhelmed to be here,’’ Krueger said. “Portland was a perfect place for me. I am very humbled to be here. Let’s go, Pilots!’’
Kate (Murray) Dunn excelled in basketball and in the classroom at Loyola Marymount from 1999-2004, emerging as one of LMU’s best players while earning her bachelor’s and master’s degrees.
“I can’t thank LMU enough,’’ she said. “I couldn’t be more blessed. Having the courage to do what you want to do and be who you want to be is something I learned at LMU. I chose LMU. I don’t think I could have made a better choice. I wouldn’t even have dreamed I’d be where I am today.’’
As a San Diego native, Susie (Erpelding) Barosso was thrilled to play college basketball for her hometown Toreros from 1995-2000. She led San Diego to the WCC Tournament championship as a senior. A 15 seed, the Toreros were shipped to Notre Dame to play the 2 seed Irish in South Bend … on St. Patrick’s Day, no less. One guess as to how that game went for San Diego.
“It’s something I will never forget,’’ Barosso said.
Noting that she was something less than a five-star recruit coming out of high school, Barosso said, “I worked really hard. I could never imagine my hard work would bring me here. I am so honored to be here.
“This is an amazing event. Top-notch, first class event. It’s been a dream for my husband and I. To be in a class with Bill Cartwright – are you kidding me? I’m thrilled to be part of this.’’
BYU volleyball great Dylann (Duncan) Ceriani and Gonzaga all-conference baseball player Mike Redmond were two inductees brought to tears during their time at the podium as they thanked a range of people for their success.
“All I ever wanted to do was play baseball,’’ said Redmond, a catcher for his hometown Zags from 1990-93. “Gonzaga gave me that opportunity. For that I will always be grateful. This does mean so much to me. I am truly honored and humbled.’’
During her time in Provo from 1985-88, Ceriani became the most decorated student-athlete in BYU history as she excelled as a middle blocker on the volleyball team and in the classroom pursuing a degree in electrical and computer engineering. Between tears and sniffles, she thanked her parents for giving her a solid foundation in life, her husband for supporting her while she earned a master’s degree in mechanical engineering from UC Berkeley in 1996 and her high school calculus teacher for providing a life lesson that still resonates with her.
“He would give us a problem and then write on the board, ‘Can you see it? Can you do it? Will you do it?’ ‘’ Ceriani said.
Pepperdine’s Maureen Formico-Caloiaro played basketball for the Waves from 1982-86 and 30 years on she remains the leading career scorer in women’s program history. She played at a time when women still used the same ball as the men did. That did not stop her from scoring a career-high 43 points in one game and grabbing a single-game record 33 rebounds in another.
At USF, Cartwright fared pretty well in the scoring and rebounding departments, too. As the centerpiece of the 2016 Hall of Honor class, he was first up to the podium, where he thanked his parents, his teammates, his coaches on the Hilltop (Bob Gailliard and Dan Belluomini) and to USF for providing a family atmosphere for him.
After the ceremony, Cartwright said his of his remarks to the audience, “You want to reveal yourself a little bit but you don’t want to bore people. I don’t have any horror stories. I was lucky.’’
In his remarks, Cartwright noted that his father worked in farm labor in the California’s Central Valley and said, “Thank God basketball came along when I was 15 so I could get out of there.’’
The big man drew laughs when he mentioned one of his business ventures in the Chicago area, where he’s lived (but not for much longer) since retiring from the NBA.
“I’m probably the only black guy you know who owns a French restaurant,’’ he said of Froggy’s on the North Shore.
Cartwright will soon be moving to San Francisco to start a new job as USF’s Director of Special Initiatives, a role that will encompass alumni connections, community relations, fundraising and mentoring students. In that sense, Cartwright has come full circle, making his selection to the 2016 Hall of Honor a timely one.
John Crumpacker spent more than three decades working at the San Francisco Examiner and San Francisco Chronicle. During his career he has covered the full gamut of sports from prep to professionals. Most recently, Crumpacker served as the beat writer for Cal through the end of the 2013-14 season. In addition to covering 10 Olympic Games, Crumpacker served as the beat writer for the San Francisco 49ers. He is a two-time winner of the Track & Field Writers of America annual writing award and has several APSE Top 10 writing awards.