Having attended numerous other fine high school Hall of Fame dinners, I must now rank the recent 2017 Foothill Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony as the very best! This event was as close to perfection as our Committee could plan or envision.
The recipe for this ideal event comes as a result of hard work, lessons learned, and insight gained from our previous four inductions. Some critical analysis and tough decisions went into creating this new and improved format.
This event is the culmination of work that started with our fundraising barbecue in November where 2017 inductees were announced. John Cope catered a great dinner held in David Spalinger’s spacious Skyline Cabinet facility. Funds from the barbecue allow us to purchase the rings, plaques, medallions, DVDs, decorations and other expenses associated with the inductions each year, so the selection of a great class of inductees, who were able to attend the event in November, helped ensure a full house that night and a successful 2017 Induction Ceremony.
How blessed we are to be able to hold the Induction Ceremony at the beautiful and elegant Bakersfield Country Club (BCC). Beyond being considered the Taj Mahal of Kern County, BCC is able to accommodate every aspect of our program. Eric Kuhn and his staff can provide seating, a wonderful meal, and outstanding service for our 300 guests. This facility allows for the setup of an elaborate big screen TV and sound system that are instrumental for our program. There is also a large room available in which we can display banners, trophies, photos, uniforms and other related memorabilia.
Upon entering BCC, guests are in awe of the black and gold balloon arches leading up the stairway, as well as the warm welcome and greeting given to them by a host of fantastic Foothill students. Teresa Hutson and her Foothill decorating crew do an amazing job with the dining room and table decorations, and have created a special Induction wine bottle for each table. Jim Wooster has arranged the rings, plaques, and medallions in a breathtaking display of “bling” that make onlookers realize just how special the night will become. At every table, guests will find a souvenir program that has been created by Dr. Joe Thompson, and is an amazing, detailed work of art.
When the Induction Ceremony begins, the most notable, improved changes are quickly evident, thanks to the addition and work provided by Foothill graduate and professional DVD producer, Scott Garcia. The previous format of trying to match photos with interviews has been eliminated in favor of using the golden voice of Mike Maggard in a narrative manner. This allows Scott to precisely match all photos and action shots with Mike’s comments. Now the DVD presentation and acceptance speeches can be more concise but meaningful.
A special treat for all, Coach Paul Contreras welcomed the 2016 FHS Girl’s Cross Country Valley Championship Team on stage to a thunderous and well-deserved applause. These accomplished, well-dressed, lovely student-athletes will certainly merit a team induction to our Hall of Fame in the years ahead. What a thrill for them to experience this event and to gaze out upon a crowd of so many notable Foothill athletes. Perhaps the seed of thought was planted in their minds: “Perhaps someday, one of our team may join this group”?
The night was a tribute to the past and present. Each Inductee had words of appreciation for their selection and what Foothill, coaches, teachers and teammates have meant in their lives. The 1974 team presentation was last on the agenda. Attendees had been able to view their talents on the big screen TVs earlier in the evening. Now they were able to view these remarkable athletes on stage some 43 years removed from their historic 10-0 season. The trials and tribulations of that season were lightly touched upon, but the 1974 bunch will be remembered as a team that endured a tough period of time and not one player faltered or quit. They were not only a source of inspiration on campus, but their excellence made them the pride of Kern County football. They united the community, and every week the Trojan Nation would pack the stadium to watch this talented team perform.
This event has become so much more than honoring athletes and preserving a legacy. It is an opportunity to say thanks and pay homage to all those who have contributed to Foothill on and off the athletic fields. It is a chance to see friends, coaches, teachers, teammates and classmates, meet Inductees and share old stories and memories. The most memorable comments and poignant messages of what this truly means often come from family members who come to claim medallions for those who cannot attend, or who are no longer with us.
As the night concluded, I gazed upon the stage to see three Committee members who all happened to be part of the 1965 Championship football team: Dr. William Baker, our President, who has provided us with excellent leadership, vision and advice (and my doctor), Dr. John Alexander who does a masterful job coordinating the nomination forms and presenting them in a voting manner (and my dentist), and Dr. Joe Thompson who has no equal when it comes to creating a first-class program and is able to give valuable insight into school-related matters (and my last Principal at FHS). It is amazing that these men are over 50 years removed from their days at Foothill, yet they still have the energy, drive and dedication to assist the Hall of Fame and Foothill High! They are part of the most dedicated, hard-working, giving group of individuals who form our Hall of Fame Committee. We are so blessed to have such talent in so many areas…by far the best group I have ever seen assembled. Hopefully, FHS alumni will appreciate their efforts and many hours of dedicated service.
Also realize we are not getting any younger and there will always be a need for volunteers and future replacements in the years ahead. The Hall of Fame continues to support all teams on campus, provide scholarships and work toward our ultimate Hall of Fame vision. Hopefully, our website might start to attract a regular following, and alumni might be motivated to enrich it with some of their input. We welcome any stories about your memories of Foothill. Perhaps you would care to share about a teacher, coach, classmate, teammate or “hero” who had an impact on your life. Some might want to reach out in other manners or just let old friends know where you are in life now. Above all, I think we all agree we have something going on now that is pretty special. Thanks for being part of it. Best wishes, Coach Ned