Feb. 16, 2010
SAN BRUNO, Calif. - Eight of the greatest athletes to have ever competed at a West Coast Conference institution, one of whom was also one of the longest tenured athletic directors in Division I history, make up the second ever WCC Hall of Honor class. The members will formally be inducted at the 2010 WCC Hall of Honor Brunch on Saturday, March 6 at the Orleans Hotel and honored the next day during halftime of the first men's basketball semifinal game on March 7.
The Hall of Honor Brunch will be held Saturday morning at 9 AM in the Esplanade Ballroom in the Orleans Hotel. Tickets are currently available for $40, and tables of 10 are available for $400. In order to purchase tickets, contact the WCC office by phone at 650-873-8622 by Monday, March 1st.
"I would like to congratulate these eight extraordinary individuals who represent our second Hall of Honor class," said WCC Commissioner Jamie Zaninovich. "Collectively, they embody the WCC's diverse history of athletic, academic, and civic excellence, and their accomplishments not only at their respective institutions, but also post-graduation, are a testament to the quality of this year's class."
The achievements of this year's Hall of Honor inductees spans five decades in five different sports among the WCC's eight institutions. This year's class includes Brandi Chastain of Santa Clara, one of the most decorated players in women's soccer history with two World Cup titles and two Olympic gold medals to her credit; Bo Kimble of Loyola Marymount, teammate of 2009 Hall of Honor inductee Hank Gathers and leader of the Lions' 1990 squad that made an unforgettable run to the Elite Eight; Zuzana Lesenarova of San Diego who was a three-time WCC Player of the Year and captured the 1999 NCAA Women's Singles Tennis championship; Anja (Bordt) Suomalainen from Saint Mary's, who was a two-time WCC Player of the Year in women's basketball and still ranks in the top five in conference history in points, assists, and steals; Joe Etzel who has been associated with Portland athletics for nearly 50 years as he starred on the baseball field before taking over as head coach and later as the athletic director, holding the top post for over 30 years; Gail Hopkins of Pepperdine, a former All-American who became the first-ever Pepperdine player to reach the Major Leagues; Jeff Brown of Gonzaga, who led the Bulldogs men's basketball team to their first-ever postseason appearance; and Bob St. Clair of San Francisco, who would go on to be selected NFL All-Pro nine times and be elected into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1990.
All inductees will be present at the Hall of Honor Brunch in Las Vegas.
2010 WCC Hall of Honor Inductees
Jeff Brown, Gonzaga University
A three-year standout for the Gonzaga men's basketball team, Jeff Brown was a key player in Gonzaga's early stages of becoming a basketball powerhouse. After transferring from the University of Washington, Brown started the next three seasons for the Bulldogs.
As a senior during the 1993-94 season, Brown led the WCC in scoring at 21.0 points per game, leading the Bulldogs to a 22-8 record, their inaugural WCC regular-season championship and a berth in the National Invitational Tournament (NIT) for the program's first-ever postseason appearance.
Brown, a three-time All-WCC First Team member, earned WCC Player of the Year honors in 1994. In addition, he was named to GTE/College Sports Information Directors of America All-District VIII first team, GTE/College Sports Information Directors of America Academic All-America first-team and was named Men's Basketball Academic All-American of the Year with 3.68 GPA in finance/pre-med.
Brown is still listed in several statistical categories in the Gonzaga record books, ranking seventh on the Zags' career scoring charts with 1,646 career points, fifth in field goals made (618), 9th in field goal percentage (55.5) and 4th in free throws made (390).
Bo Kimble, Loyola Marymount University
A high school and college teammate of 2009 Hall of Honor inductee Hank Gathers, Bo Kimble was an integral part of a historic Loyola Marymount offense that still owns the five highest single game scoring totals in NCAA history, including the record-setting 186 point effort against U.S. International in 1991. After the tragic passing of Gathers in the 1990 WCC Tournament, Kimble led the Lions to one of the most memorable post-season runs in NCAA Tournament history. The run was best symbolized by the right-handed Kimble shooting his first free throw in each NCAA Tournament game left-handed in memory of Gathers.
Kimble led the 11th-seeded Lions through the first two rounds of the tournament by recording 45 points and 18 rebounds in a 111-92 first round win over sixth-seeded New Mexico State and 37 points in a 149-115 second round win over defending champion and third-seeded Michigan. The Lions then beat seventh-seeded Alabama 62-60 in the West Regional Semifinals before falling to eventual national champion UNLV in the Elite Eight.
Kimble turned in one of the most prolific statistical seasons in WCC and NCAA history as a senior in 1990 by leading the nation in scoring with 35.3 points per game. He was named WCC Player of the Year, a six-time WCC Player of the Week and a Second-Team All-American in his senior season.
Dr. Gail Hopkins, Pepperdine University
Dr. Gail Hopkins, who became the first person in his family to attend college when he selected Pepperdine over Stanford, California and UCLA in order to both play baseball and study religion, played baseball at Pepperdine from 1962-64 and earned All-America honors as a junior in 1963.
Hopkins helped Pepperdine qualify for the NCAA Playoffs in both 1962 and 1963 and he became the first Pepperdine baseball player to ever reach the Major League when he broke in with the Chicago White Sox in 1968. He primarily played first base in seven seasons in the majors with the White Sox, Kansas City Royals and Los Angeles Dodgers, and hit a career-best .286 with Chicago in 1970. Hopkins was a member of the Los Angeles Dodgers team that won the National League Pennant and played in the World Series in 1974.
He earned a Bachelor's degree from Pepperdine in 1966 as a double-major in Religion and Biology, a Master's in Religion from Pepperdine in 1974, a Ph.D. in Biology from the Illinois Institute of Technology in 1977 and an MD from Rush Medical College in 1981. In addition, he will complete a Masters of Divinity degree from United Theological Seminary in May of 2010. Hopkins is believed to be the only player in Major League Baseball history to have earned both an MD and a Ph.D.
Joe Etzel, University of Portland
When Joe Etzel was appointed director of athletics in 1970, the University of Portland's intercollegiate athletic program consisted of three coaches and five men's teams. When he retired in 2004, those figures increased to 13 full-time and 11 part-time coaches for 16 men's and women's teams, all competing at the NCAA Division I level. In addition, the University also built four athletic facilities throughout the Etzel era: The Earle A. and Virginia H. Chiles Center (basketball/volleyball), Louisiana-Pacific Tennis Center, Pilot Stadium (baseball, which later was renamed in his honor), and Harry A. Merlo Field (soccer). Etzel retired as the longest tenured Athletic Director at the NCAA Division I level.
As an undergraduate at the University of Portland, Etzel lettered four years in baseball as a pitcher and once in basketball. He still ranks near the top of many of the school's career pitching records. Etzel is first in career win percentage (.741) with a 20-7 record. He is second in career ERA (2.45) and wins (20), fourth in walks per nine innings (2.18) and led the Pilots to the NCAA playoffs in 1957 and 1958.
Etzel's 21-year reign as the university's head baseball coach began in 1966. He took on the director of athletics position in 1970 and served in both capacities until his coaching retirement following the 1986 baseball season.
He was later inducted into the University of Portland Athletic Hall of Fame in 1993, the State of Oregon Athletic Hall of Fame in 2007 and the National Athletic Directors (NACDA) Hall of Fame in 2008.
Anja Suomalainen (Bordt), Saint Mary's College
After playing her freshman season at California, Anja Suomalainen (Bordt) starred for three seasons at Saint Mary's (1988-89 through 1990-91). Suomalainen was a two-time WCC Player of the Year (1990 and 1991) and led the conference in scoring and assists in all three of her seasons.
In 1991, she was named the West Coast Conference Scholar-Athlete of the Year and an Academic All-American. Suomalainen was also named the NCAA Woman of the Year in 1991 for the state of California. She ranks in the top five in the West Coast Conference's all-time assists, points, and steals categories.
Suomalainen, who was inducted into the Saint Mary's Hall of Fame, played professionally in Finland, Germany and Spain and was named the Finland Player of the Year in 1991 and a German Bundesleague All-Star in 1995-96. She played in over 120 games for the Finland National Team.
Zuzana Lesenarova, University of San Diego
Zuzana Lesenarova became the first NCAA Division I Champion in the history of the University of San Diego when she won the 1999 NCAA Women's Singles Tennis Championship. A three-time West Coast Conference Player of the Year and three-time WCC All-Academic selection, Lesenarova shared 1999 Intercollegiate Tennis Association (ITA) National Player of the Year honors with James Blake of Harvard.
Lesenarova, who was a four-time ITA All-American, spent most of the 1999 season ranked No. 1 in the nation and won three of the four collegiate grand slam events that season. She also earned No. 1 national rankings in both singles and doubles in 2000.
As a Torero, she finished with an overall record of 202-55 (139-25 in singles and 63-30 in doubles). Lesenarova, who played in the 1999 U.S. Open, was inducted into the University of San Diego's Chet & Marguerite Pagni Family Athletic Hall of Fame on May 2, 2009.
Bob St. Clair, University of San Francisco
Bob St. Clair was a member of what many consider to be one of the most dominant college football teams of all time. The 1951 University of San Francisco Dons went a perfect 9-0 with an average winning score of 32-8. Nine players on that team were drafted in the NFL, and three ended up in the Pro Football Hall of fame.
St. Clair began his pro career in 1954. He didn't have to travel far as he was drafted by the San Francisco 49ers. Over the next 11 seasons, St. Clair would cement himself in history as one of the greatest offensive tackles to have ever played the game. He was a nine-time All-Pro selection, a five-time Pro Bowl selection, named to the 1950`s NFL's All-Decade Team, and in 1990, was elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
St. Clair holds the distinction of being one of the few players in history to have spent almost his entire playing career in the same city, playing in the same stadium.In 2001, as a tribute for playing a total of 17 seasons and 189 home games at Kezar Stadium, the city of San Francisco renamed the stadium's field in honor of St. Clair.
Brandi Chastain, Santa Clara University
Brandi Chastain is one of the most decorated players in women's soccer history with two World Cup titles and two Olympic gold medals to her credit.
In 1989 she transferred to Santa Clara University from California. Chastain would be a two-time All-American at Santa Clara, leading the team to the Final Four in 1989 and 1990 seasons.
In 1990, Chastain was the recipient of the Honda Women's Soccer Award, given to the top player in the nation. She was also named the Intercollegiate Soccer Association of America Player of the Year. That season, Chastain recorded 22 goals and 50 points, which still ranks among Santa Clara's all-time leaders.
In 1991, Chastain represented her country in the FIFA Women's World Cup, where she scored five consecutive goals in a 12-0 US win against Mexico. Team USA went on to win that World Cup in China.
In 1996, Chastain was selected to play on the US National team. She led the U.S. to the gold medal at the 1996 Summer Olympics in Atlanta in the first-ever Olympic women's soccer tournament. She played every minute in the U.S.'s five matches, and assisted on the first goal in Olympic women's soccer history.
At the 1999 World Cup, she provided one of the greatest moments in the history of women's sports when she peeled her jersey off in celebration after the decisive penalty kick in the championship match. In the months after the match, she was named one of People Magazine's Most Intriguing People and one of Street & Smith's 100 Most Powerful People in Sports in 1999.
She was also member of the 2004 Olympic Soccer Team that won gold in Athens and the 2000 Olympic team that won the silver in Sydney. Overall, she appeared in 192 career U.S. National Team matches, which ranks among the top 10 in U.S. history.
Chastain's influence on women's soccer continues today, as she is one of the founding members of the Bay Area/San Jose Cyber Rays professional club, and is currently playing with the FC Gold Pride of Women's Professional Soccer. She also continues to serve as a soccer broadcaster for ABC, NBC and ESPN.