It was a very special evening Saturday, March 12 as The Glendale College Athletic Hall of Fame hosted its 10th Annual Induction ceremony inside the J. Walter Smith Student Center.
It was a night filled with laughs, cheers and rounds of applause to honor and welcome the newest inductees with this very prestigious award.
This year’s ceremony included a talented cast of former Vaquero athletes, which received awards in the following categories: Outstanding Team, Outstanding Athletic Achievement, Pillar of Achievement and Meritorious Service.
The first to be inducted into this year’s annual class was 1972 coed volleyball for Outstanding Team. Several members of the team accepted the award on behalf of the group. Roy Nichols accepted the award on behalf of the squad and gave a small thank you speech for the induction.
“The difference in a championship team in the coed arena really fell to the girls,” said Nichols, as he acknowledged the effort they put into the group. This team won the Southern California Championship under head coach Blanche Donovan, a 2006 Hall of Fame inductee.
Angela Brinton Collins was the next inductee. She was recognized for Outstanding Athletic Achievement. Collins was an all-conference volleyball player for the Lady Vaqueros in 1983.
Collins said that athletics has shaped and changed her life, “Although I’ve been out of the competitive realm for many years, the tools I learned from those years of competition that have stayed with me and formed the person that I am today.”
Sports information director Alex Leon introduced the next outstanding athletic achievement award to Steve La Rusch, a two -time state champion in the high jump for the Vaqueros in the 1975-76 season. La Rusch is the only back-to-back state champ in school history. On Feb. 26, 1976, La Rusch set the high-jump record as a Vaquero athlete by jumping seven feet during a practice nearly 35 years ago to the day of his induction into the Glendale College Hall of Fame.
The Pillar of Achievement goes to the athlete who exemplifies triumph on and off the court, contributes to the lives of others and is a winner inside and outside the sports world.
One of the greatest players to ever suit up for the Glendale Vaquero basketball team is John Block.
He was a member for the Vaqs for the 1962-63 season. He then furthered his education at the USC where he set a single season scoring record in the PAC-8 Conference with an average of 27.7 points per game, only to be broken by Reggie Miller who became an NBA great. Block went on to play in the NBA for 11 years on several teams including the Los Angeles Lakers.
“You cannot have a great achievement, you cannot have any achievement without at least three things: ability, community and circumstance. All three of these things affected me in my time here at Glendale College,” said Block.
Block continued to explain that during the summer before his senior year at USC he joined up with a church group to live in Harlem, N.Y., where he was the only “white guy.” The experience toughened him as a player because fouls were not called while playing there so they had to learn how to score and win under, however, brutal the given circumstance.
“I just want to encourage, even to the young. to recognize that it is not you that gets this thing done. It has to do with friends, family and coaches,” added Block, as the 175 plus in attendance reacted with a standing ovation.
Former Vaquero football coach and current Men’s Athletic Director John Cicuto introduced the Outstanding Athletic Achievement inductee Chris Hale. Hale was an All-American defensive back for the Vaqs in 1986. He later went on to play in two Rose Bowls for USC in 1988 and 1989.
Hale continued his success as he appeared in three Super Bowls for the Buffalo Bills from 1991 to 1993.
“That extra step of you not quitting and not giving up on everything means so comma so much and Coach Sartoris and Coach Cicuto were so good to me. They give you a different perspective. They are not just coaches; they are guys that are your brothers, your fathers. They are guys that care about what is going on,” said Hale about his experience at GCC.
Hale livened up the evening by explaining, what was it was that was so special about Glendale and why he wanted to come, “I found out. they’ve got ‘Tiger Blood!” said Hale, which immediately sparked audience laughter.
The final inductee of the evening was awarded the Meritorious Service induction. It went to alumni Jimmy Evangelatos. A former athlete himself and member of the 1976-77 Vaquero football team, Evangelatos was recognized for his tremendous support of the college and its athletic program. Evangelatos, much like Hale, entertained those in attendance with a comical induction speech.
The Glendale College Athletic Hall of Fame is an annual tradition that entered its 10th year. With its inaugural induction ceremony beginning in 2002 and with the aid of J. Walter Smith, the hall of fame will continue to honor former Vaquero athletes and teams who have achieved excellence while being a member of the Glendale College family.
As it reads on the J. Walter Smith Student Center’s Hall of Fame wall, “Once a Vaq, always a Vaq.”
For further information on the GCC Athletic Hall of Fame go to: http://www.glendale.cc.ca.us/index.aspx?page=320