A fine group of former athletes have been honored in two induction ceremonies of the Burbank High Athletic Hall of Fame since it was founded in 2008.
Names like Jeff Nelson, Cathy Ferguson, Paul Cameron, Christy Calderon, Ralph Botting, John Musich and Freddy Sanchez have been just some of the individuals who have been permanently enshrined and their honors and exploits displayed in the lobby of the Burbank High gym.
“We have gotten a lot of positive feedback about the Hall of Fame displays that we’ve put up,” said Burbank Athletic Director Fred Cook, who is responsible for establishing and maintaining the Hall of Fame. “I was at the gym the other day and some guy came in off the street just to look at the Hall of Fame displays.”
Next fall, a new group of 12 former Bulldogs standouts will take their place when a third induction event will be held. The event is scheduled for Sept. 8 in the school’s auditorium. There will be a meet-and-greet at 5:30 p.m. followed by the ceremony at 6.
“We like to make it a real special event,” said Cook, who adds to the Hall of Fame every two years.
This year’s list of honorees include:
A 1956 Burbank graduate, Richards cultivated a boys’ tennis dynasty for the Bulldogs. Along with winning a CIF Southern Section III championship in 1993 — the last title won by the school in any sport — his teams advanced to the division quarterfinals 12 of 13 years. In addition, Burbank captured 13 straight Foothill League crowns under Richards.
Loutensock was a teacher in the Burbank Unified School District for 32 years. He was the Indians boys’ basketball coach from 1958-75 and has the most wins in program history. In 1967, a squad coached by Loutensock and paced by a nucleus of six fine players — Dave LeSueur, Benton White, Bob Saia, Ron Davidson, John Hoofman and Mike Acosta — advanced to CIF Division 3-A semifinals. That year, the Bulldogs won the Foothill League championship and amassed 24 wins.
The 1967 graduate was an important member of the 1967 team that advanced to the CIF semifinals. He is the only basketball player from the school to earn high school All-America honors. He also won all-league and All-CIF Southern Section accolades.
A standout in track and field and cross-country, Romero — who graduated in 1964 — was part of a distance dynasty at the school in the 1960s and into the 1970s. He captured a CIF Southern Section championship in the boys’ 1,600 in 1964 and was the CIF runner-up in cross-country as a senior. In addition, he was the Foothill League champion in 1963.
The 1965 graduate averaged 20 points a game during his senior season in boys’ basketball. He was a two-time Foothill League Player of the Year and was named most valuable play in five separate tournaments.
A 1969 graduate, Dodge is the only athlete in Burbank history to be named a high school All-American in two sports (boys’ swimming and water polo). His Bulldogs teams won two Foothill League championships in water polo and three in swimming. He went later earned collegiate All-American accolades at Cal State Northridge.
An accomplished swimmer who could swim every event, Ross was a three-time high school All-American who captured the CIF Southern Section 100-yard freestyle event in 1972. As a senior, the 1973 graduate was undefeated in every dual-meet race he took part in and still holds the school record in the 100 freestyle.
The 1975 graduate was a standout in three sports: football, basketball and track and field. In football, he was a two-time All-CIF Southern Section award winner and was named a Prep Magazine All-American as a senior. He earned a football scholarship to UCLA.
Graduating in 1976, Gronich was one of Burbank’s first female athletes to earn All-CIF Southern Section accolades, garnering the award twice in volleyball. She was a three-time all-league award winner in volleyball, also receiving an all-league nod in basketball. She also ran track.
Another of the successful distance runners to come out of Burbank. The 1979 graduate captured a CIF Southern Section 3-A championship in the 1,600 in 1979. In addition, he placed fourth in the State Meet in the 3,200 and is a member of the Bulldogs record-holding distance medley relay team.
Graduating in 1988, Gilles is the only athlete in school history to win a CIF Southern Section triple jump championship, taking the 3-A title in 1987. She held the national triple jump mark as a senior and was a three-time champion in the Foothill League.
Along with Nelson, Lewis was one of the most decorated distance runners in school history. The 1989 graduate captured a title in the boys’ Division 3-A 1,600 in 1989 and also added a title in cross-country. In addition, he was a state runner-up in the 800 and captured a Foothill League cross-country title.
Also receiving Distinguished Achievement Awards at the Hall of Fame event are longtime football team doctor Bruce Varon and longtime trainer Scott Moro.