Unless you decorated or were a member of an honored team at the 2018 Induction Ceremony, it is safe to assume you probably didn’t see the memorabilia or learn of the great FHS athletic legacy. The Hall of Fame tried changing things up this year by taking our materials to the FHS campus the same week, as over 300 incoming 8th grade students would attend with their families. And boy did the trophies, photos, game balls, and memorabilia ever “Wow” and educate a lot of young and older folks that day!
Because FHS clubs and teams also had displays to attract these 8th graders, the Hall of Fame was able to contribute as a magnet for students, teachers, parents, and FHS coaches. It was a fun, gala, carnival-like atmosphere that certainly allowed incoming students to see the myriad of athletic and educational opportunities that awaited them at FHS. It was also an opportunity for us to share and educate others about some amazing athletes and teams that once wore the black and gold.
Hall of Fame members Jim Wooster, Ryan Valencia and Greg Little manned our display, answered all questions and elaborated on the history behind each piece of memorabilia viewed. They also were happy to sign autographs, pose for “selfie” photos and took the time to encourage all these young people to take part in some sport, club or activity during their high school career. Most displays had teachers and coaches with sign-up sheets in order to stay in touch with students, as well as pass on team information and summer workout programs.
The eye-catching basketball display elicited comments from those who were surprised the Trojans once were State Champions. Photos of pros like Lonnie Shelton, Chris Childs, Joe Turner, Steve Smith and Harlem Globetrotter Reggie Phillips validated that sport.
Other photos of Tyack Award Winners (Kern County’s Top Athlete) such as Lonnie Shelton, Mark Newbrough, Gary Harris and Rashaan Shehee showed students that it was possible to excel in 3 sports, get good grades and receive a college athletic scholarship……..without having to “specialize” in one sport.
The photo of the 1965 champion football team that ended the Driller’s 27 game win streak was another top attraction. Virtually every viewer gasped and exclaimed “We once played BHS and beat them in football!” We then had to explain that once Foothill and Bakersfield were heated rivals……especially in sports like football, basketball, wrestling and track, where huge capacity crowds were the norm. They asked how long we played BHS in football and how hotly-contested these game were. It was noted that the first 25 years we played them in football, the series was even at 11-11-3. Those were fond memories and that rivalry, sadly, no longer exists.
Students were amazed at how many FHS students have gone on to become high school, college and pro coaches for different sports. That 1965 team alone featured future football coaches like: Jimmy Thompson, John Ackerley, Tim Hartnett, Ray DeShane, Joe Padilla, Frank Provensal, and Steve Hubbard. Others coached girls softball like Dr. Joe Thompson at West High, and Mike D’Amato who is still cranking out great teams at Independence High. Dr. Bill Baker was also a pioneer soccer coach. Over the years FHS has sent hundreds into the coaching ranks, which would make a good blog as many coached different sports than the dominant sports they played. Recent example: former NFL football player Rashaan Shehee just turned out a championship girls basketball team at BHS.
The huge perpetual McLemore Trophy attracted the largest crowd. While studying the name plates of all past winners, one observant student noticed there were only two football players to receive this award twice. Nathan Jacobson, who is an orthopedic surgeon for the NHL hockey team Minnesota Wild…….and Mike Gutierrez who just coached the Highland Scots to a football championship. The other names that grace that trophy would certainly merit a great future blog. Readers are able to see the previous blog that told the story of John McLemore and other FHS Viet Nam Vets. It also details how FHS students were the leaders in raising funds to erect the Memorial at Truxtun and Chester Ave. and honor Viet Nam vets on campus.
With Memorial Day on the horizon, it should be made known that while John McLemore and Carl Nacca made the ultimate sacrifice………numerous other FHS students have also served in Viet Nam, and elsewhere, to preserve our freedom and way of life. A former football player once told me he ran into 13 of his FHS teammates in the “boonies” of Viet Nam. Several of my former baseball players also served there including our two ace pitchers John Lunsford and the late Terry Almond. I have since run into John and other FHS vets at military events and Union Cemetery. I saved, and still cherish, the letters and photos Terry sent me from his tour of Viet Nam. We all need to remember to thank vets for their service.
Pat Carlotti’s History Club and Archiving Class deserve a pat on the back for the great job in helping set up, monitor, photograph and document this historic first time event. They have also been doing on-campus displays to promote the Hall of Fame as well as honoring the FHS teams and clubs.
I had the honor of being asked to speak to the Archive Class and actually interview them. I fired numerous questions at this group and made sure each of them had a chance to explain what the Archiving Class means to them and why they feel it is important. I got some intelligent, heartfelt answers that revealed they are grasping the importance of documenting events before the people, materials, and memorabilia are gone or lost. The consensus of opinion seemed to be that video-taping interviews of original 1962 staff members, as well as other teachers and students who came later, was the most interesting and informative part of archiving so far. How fortunate to have “originals” such as Harvel Pollard, Joe Fontaine, Norris Miller, Laddie Kumelos, Ann Mickelson Gallon, Dr. Joe Thompson and others share a treasure trove of memories and funny episodes that marked the start of FHS. Those interested in these, and all the other interviews, can find them on YouTube.
It is a Hall of Fame dream for an on-campus building that cannot only house memorabilia, but train future students in the skills needed to work in the ever-changing world of modern technology. If there are any benefactors out there who would like to add to Mr. Carlotti’s limited funds and resources, it would be most appreciated. The future is in good hands, and it is a great time to be a Trojan. Fight On!