Hall of Fame Honors Athletic Alumni

Brandon Hensley

Steve Moore would have preferred his success in life to have come from his own initiative. Instead he said, speaking at Glendale College’s Athletic Hall of Fame induction ceremony Saturday night, “My whole life has been about just damn luck.”

Moore was one of six inductees into the 2009 Hall of Fame class, held in the J. Walter Smith Student Center on campus.

Moore was an All-American wide receiver for the Vaqueros football team in 1967, and went on to a lengthy coaching career in the NFL with the Seattle Seahawks and Buffalo Bills from 1978 to 1989.

“When I had a chance to get my first coaching job I took advantage of it, but it was flat given to me. I wish that people could say, ‘Well, he earned it.’ I didn’t earn it. Somebody bet on me,” he said.

During his speech, Moore got contemplative. “What if I didn’t have the ability to grab a ball, and yank it out of the air and go run with it? What happens to those kids? I’m wondering a little bit about the kids that could have made it if somebody had given them a chance.”

He ended his speech with some advice: “Reach out and grab somebody and take them by the hand, and give them a damn chance. They might surprise you.”

Moore was presented alongside his 1967 teammate and fellow All-American wide receiver George McGowan, who became a Canadian Football League legend, and was inducted into its Hall of Fame in 2003.

“The foundations that we built in this city [Glendale], and coming back here…it’s been a gift. I mean that. It’s like a Christmas gift,” said McGowan, who was also a teammate of Moore’s at Glendale High School.

Former cross country sensation Jeff Nelson was the other athlete inducted. Nelson was the individual state champion in 1980, and was part of the squad that won the team title that year. His high school record in the two-mile of 8:36.3 stood for almost 30 years.

Nelson thanked his teammates, coaches, and competitors through the years. His wife Kathryn coaches track and field at Saugus High School, and his son Alec and Elizabeth are runners in that program. He was asked afterward by master of ceremonies Harry Hull who would win in a race between everyone in his family.

“My kids,” he replied.

The 1978 women’s volleyball team was inducted as the outstanding team for this year. The `78 Lady Vaqs won the Western State Conference title and finished fourth in the state. Their coach, Diane Spangler, introduced the players at the podium and each one received a commemorative plaque celebrating their season.

“The girls worked really hard, both in the gym and the weight room, did everything we asked of them and more. And as a result we just had really good results and it was a really exciting time for volleyball here at the college,” said Spangler.

Tony Spino received the Pillar of Achievement for his service as student trainer for GCC from 1968 to 70. Spino was a trainer for the NBA’s Milwaukee Bucks from 1975 to 79, and has been a trainer at UCLA for 35 years. He has been a member of 25 National Titles teams during his career at UCLA.

During his speech, Spino, seemingly in shock the whole time, took off his medal and placed it around his presenter Bill Gallagher, a member of the Glendale College Foundation Board of Directors. Spino said that this award belonged to him, and recalled how Gallagher’s family took him in when Spino first arrived at Glendale.

“Because of them I’m where I’m at today, and I’ve never forgotten that,” Spino said.
The last inductee of the night was Dr. John Davitt, who received the award for Meritorious Service. Davitt, whose name is on the administration building, was the Superintendent/President of Glendale College from 1985 to 2006. During his tenure, the tennis courts on campus were built and Sartoris Field was renovated, among other milestones.

“It’s a unified aim of the trustees, the administration, the faculty, the students, the staff, all of us pitching in together to make something happen,” Davitt said of the progress made during his time.

Speaking on the college’s current architectural design, Davitt made it a point to thank Bill Taylor and Jim Spencer, the contract manager and designer responsible for the look.

“The reason this campus looks so unified is because we had one architect, and we decided on the Spanish Mission architecture with the arch, and all of our buildings reflect that.

So it’s not like you go to some campuses and it looks like 20 different people drawing 20 different styles of architecture to make the college. Here, we stuck with one, and I think it’s paid off,” Davitt said.

GCC started its Athletic Hall of Fame inductions in 2002.