Inaugural Otter Sports Hall of Fame

By Jerome Baker
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Photo by Taylor VanSant.

It was a dark, rainy afternoon this past Saturday here on California State University, Monterey Bay’s (CSUMB) campus, as it has been throughout this winter. Right around 4 p.m. the sun poked out from behind the gloomy clouds and reminded us that we are in fact in California, just in time for Otters both past and present to show up dry for the inaugural Otter Sports Hall of Fame induction ceremony.

The inaugural Hall of Fame was held in the UC Ballroom with some of CSUMB’s first (and greatest) athletes – even Monte made an appearance in a sharp black blazer and basketball shorts because it was after all, only semi-formal.

The greatest athletes to ever don the “Blue and Gold” were celebrated. There were 12 Otters enshrined on this night including: Chelsea Laning (water polo), Cicillia Chudivan (golf), Brian Haggett (baseball), Erik Uppman (cross country), Ashley Barba (softball), Reheann Fall (volleyball), Dana Andrews (basketball), Bob Johnson (supporter), Bobbi Bonace (coach/administrator), the 2011 Men’s Golf Team and two who were inducted posthumously, Bill Trumbo (coach/administrator) and Devougn Lamont (basketball).

Assistant Athletic Director Kevin Gilmore laid out the criteria, “at the very least you had to have played here for two years and you had to leave with a degree or good academic standing… for coaches and administrators, they had to be here for at least five years.” Bob Johnson has supported the Otters women’s basketball team and has been one of the biggest contributors to not only athletics, but the entire university.

The reception began at 5:30 p.m. as great past otters began to mingle and discuss all of the changes that have happened to campus. The biggest topics: the lack of parking, the closed-off street and how much it has expanded since Fall 1996. Athletes from the formative years noted the growth.

Amy Pafford and Vera Hicks were on the very first women’s basketball team. “I don’t even know if they [would] consider us a team now, if they look back. It was a bunch of a girls who, some had played and some had never even stepped foot a court before,” said Pafford. “The first game we had on the basketball court was quite a shocker, 142 to 24, I think [against Albertson University of Idaho]. They were good, but we were bad,” said Pafford, laughing off the embarrassment.

Erik Uppman, a member of the first cross country team also noted some changes, “The jerseys have changed dramatically, we were just trying to kind of pull things together … these guys look like real athletes, it’s just incredible to see.” During his speech, he joked about the fact that the cross country jerseys were essentially basketball jerseys and were very heavy.

CSUMB has come a long way from “recruiting people off the bike trails,” as former coach and inductee Bobbi Bonace put it. Bonace developed the athletic advisory board, created the first two sports teams and even had a hand in building the kinesiology program here on campus.

The school is a long way from when coaches drove their own cars to competitions in the ‘90s. CSUMB has climbed the ranks, as it jumped from the NAIA into the NCAA Division II level in 2004.

The entire 2011 men’s golf team was in attendance. Make that the 2011 National Champion
Men’s Golf team (whose hardware is on display in Otter Sports Center) – making CSUMB not only the youngest school in the NCAA, but possibly the fastest to ever win a championship.

Dana Andrew was the first female athlete in school history to be named to the All-CCAA team and is the school’s all-time leading scorer. She was recruited by larger programs, but chose CSUMB because the school was “fighting for respect . . . and demanded respect.” Ashley Barba led the Otters to their first CCAA championship in any sport.

Brian Hagget led the baseball team to its first winning season and to a first place finish in the conference. Rheann Fall was a National Player of the Week and CCAA Player of the Week recipient during her junior year in 2010. She was also an American Volleyball Coaches Association (AVCA) All-American, which means she was voted one of the top 30 volleyballers in the entire country. Emotions ran high as the families of Bill Trumbo and Devougn Lamont accepted their Hall of Fame plaques.

Patrick Kosta, who was a part of the men’s basketball team coaching staff for eight years had high praise for Lamont, “We should have never got him he just happened to play for a JC that never won a game. So he was under recruited. He should’ve gone DI [Division I] … he ended up playing pro basketball in Europe and South America. He also played for the Trinidad and Tobago national team.”

Everyone looked forward to what is next for the school. Considering that we are the youngest school in the NCAA, the future otter be bright.

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