The J. Walter Smith Center was filled Feb. 10 as about 180 alumni and friends saw former athletes – including an Olympic gold medal winner, coaches and supporters inducted into GCC’s inaugural Athletic Hall of Fame.
The ceremony honored five former GCC athletes and coaches and the entire 1985 football team.
Among the inductees was Cathy Ferguson, awarded Pillar of Achievement, who won two gold medals for swimming in the 1964 Olympics and is an executive with the American Youth Soccer Association.
Donna Mayhew, who was given the award for Outstanding Athletic Achievement, competed in the javelin throw event in the 1988 and 1992 Olympics.
Carl Boldt was also recognized for Outstanding Athletic Achievement. He was drafted to the NBA by the Detroit Pistons and worked several years in the NBA and ABA as a scout.
Chuck Gibson was recognized as Outstanding Coach, while J. Walter Smith was given the Meritorious Award. Smith was the college’s dean of student activities from 1955 to 1992 and the student center is named after him.
The night turned into a family reunion for the honorees as they came together with friends and mentors from their past.
“When you come to GCC you feel in so many ways that you’re a family,” Gibson said. “We stand by each other and support each other.”
Funded through the Foundation, plans for the ceremony have been in the works for over a year. Sports Information Director Alex Leon has been working closely with the Foundation in order to coordinate the first Hall of Fame induction ceremony.
Coordinators of the project were Leon; members of the Foundation, including Barbara Jordan; and members of the Board of Directors. The Hall of Fame (selection) committee included Tye Veden, Terry Coblentz, Bill Gallagher, Dave Greenbaum, Harry Hull, Jim Sartoris and Paul Schlossman.
According to Leon, coordinators went to El Camino College, where a Hall of Fame is already in place, in order to formulate ideas to start the first Hall of Fame at GCC. The committee’s main goal was to show how much GCC had changed over the years.
“We wanted to show off the campus and the major improvements we’ve had over the years,” said Leon.
The selection committee decided that there would be up to six inductees per year. Coaches, administrators, and others who now work closely or have worked closely with the college made the initial nominations for possible alumni to be considered for the Hall of Fame.
“People need to be recognized beyond being a coach,” said Leon. “They need to be recognized as someone who supported the program.”
According to Leon, the goal of the Hall of Fame was not to only recognize athletes who peaked while at GCC, but to also recognize supporters of the athletic program like Gibson who has been a “longtime booster of athletics.” Leon also pointed out that coordinators of the ceremony wished to recognize athletes who peaked early on in their careers, like Ferguson, and later found GCC to be a successful steppingstone toward academic achievement.
The committee plans to make the Hall of Fame induction an annual event, according to Leon. “This has been a tremendous project to work on,” said Leon. “It’s been a real labor of love.”
“GCC deserves this kind of program and I’m very happy to be a part of it,” said Smith, who is also known as “Mr. Glendale College” for his 45 years of work at GCC.
The J.W. Smith Center features a mural of photos which depicts the athletic history at GCC. The mural also includes six separate areas where each of the inductees will be recognized all year long.