There are amazing feats that stand out on the resumès of Bill Barnett and Joe Fisher that have caused them to reach legendary status in their profession. Add another noteworthy accomplishment for both.
Barnett, the highly regarded girls' water polo coach at Newport Harbor High, and Fisher, the former great cross country coach at Cosa Mesa, have been recognized as CIF Southern Section Hall of Fame awardees, the CIF Southern Section announced last week.
They are among 10 Hall of Famers and nine others who will be honored for Distinguished Service at an award luncheon on Oct. 25.
Debbie Fleming, a former Los Alamitos athletic director and swim and tennis coach who is a Newport Beach resident, is also a Hall of Famer, as is the late Jim Harris, a great boys' basketball coach at Ocean View.
Barnett, who is entering his 46th year of coaching, led the Newport Harbor boys' water polo teams to 10 CIF titles and seven other appearances in the final of the section's large-school division from 1967 to 1987. In February, he coached the Newport Harbor girls' water polo team to its fifth CIF Southern Section Division I title.
"It's a great honor," Barnett said of being named to the CIF Southern Section Hall of Fame. "It's the highest the CIF Southern Section can give. It's very gratifying to receive it."
Barnett, 69, is also a former U.S. Olympic men's team coach. He guided the Americans to a silver medal at the 1988 Seoul Olympics and a fourth-place finish at the 1992 Barcelona Games.
He has been recovering from a third back surgery he had in April and continues to coach.
"I am feeling better," Barnett said. "I'm out of a walker and basically walking once in a while with a cane. Things are looking up."
Barnett, who lives in Laguna Beach, has been retired after teaching at Newport Harbor, where he arrived in 1966, but he remains busy. He continues to coach for the Newport Water Polo Foundation girls' team, which has the majority of girls who play for Newport Harbor. The team recently competed in the Villa Park tournament and finished second to Foothill. Four more tournaments are on the schedule, including the Junior Olympics. There are also Sunset League games every Monday and Wednesday, Barnett said.
"It was a slam dunk to get Barnett in there," Newport Harbor Athletic Director Mike Zimmerman said. "It's long overdue for someone who has given so much for the sport of water polo. It's a no-brainer."
Fisher set a high standard while coaching at Costa Mesa. His cross country teams were phenomenal from 1969 to 1980. His Costa Mesa boys' teams built a 10-year league dual-meet winning streak. Fisher's boys also captured several invitational victories and a CIF Southern Section 3-A championship in 1976.
Fisher later coached at NAIA Fort Hays State University in Kansas, NCAA Division III State University of New York at Geneseo and NCAA Division II Moorhead State in Minnesota.
Fisher, who also coached the Mesa girls to several league titles, guided the Mustang boys to an unprecedented six Orange County Championships in his tenure.
"I'll always remember those teams," Fisher said in 2002 when he was recognized by the Daily Pilot in its sports hall of fame. "Those kids really worked hard and had a great love for running and each other. They were just one big family."
Fisher, who compiled a 209-8 dual-meet record at Costa Mesa, was named California High School Cross Country Coach of the Year in 1978 and started the Southern California CIF Cross Country Coaches' Assn. in 1974, when he served as the first president.
As a collegiate coach, Fisher guided 53 All-American runners and 26 Academic All-Americans, including 34 All-Americans in seven years at Fort Hays State.
Fisher retired after 37 years of coaching in 1999, following seven years at Moorhead State.
Fleming, a member and the ladies golf champion at Newport Beach Country Club, guided Los Alamitos to three CIF section titles in girls' swimming. She also led the Griffins to a CIF section title in girls' tennis. She is retired after teaching physical eduation at Los Al for 20 years.
The rest of the CIF Southern Section Hall of Fame awardees include Rick Brodbeck (Gladstone), Bob Hitchcock (Temple City), Ron Massey (Jordan), Joe Reza, Jr. (Los Amigos), Roger Takahashi (Los Amigos), Jimmy Zepeda (official).
The Distinguished Service awardees are: Nancy Aandahl (Baldwin Park), Bruce Belcher (Edison), Shirley Frazier (CIF Southern Section office), Marie Ishida (State CIF office), Charlie LaCommare (Bell Gardens), Mark Le Duc (TLC Sportswear), Cheryl Milner (Paraclete), Jim Staunton (CIF Southern Section office), Jim Taylor (Yucaipa).
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