Mesa Musings: OCC sports unites five Athletic Hall of Famers

On Saturday night Orange Coast College will induct five luminaries into its Athletic Hall of Fame.

The ceremony begins at 4:30 p.m. in the Peterson Gym Foyer. The inductees will be introduced later that evening during the halftime ceremonies of the OCC-Golden West football game in LeBard Stadium. Kickoff is set for 6 p.m.

Inductees include former Pirate volleyball and basketball coach Bob Wetzel; football and baseball star Ken Moats; basketball standout Nancy Hatsushi-Rogers; rowing great Chris Clark; and volleyball and basketball icon Steve Timmons.

I've known Wetzel for more than 50 years. A genuine nice guy with a great sense of humor, "Wetz" has been a gifted athlete for the entirety of his life. He was a world-class racquetball player for many years.

Wetz graduated from Newport Harbor High School in 1953. He attended OCC from 1953-55, and played baseball and basketball. A flashy infielder and agile guard, he played for the college's first baseball and basketball coaches, Wendell Pickens and Miles Eaton.

Wetz hit .434 during his sophomore season as a Pirate. Wetzel led Coast to a 21-7 record and an Eastern Conference championship.

He went on to play several seasons in the minor leagues.

Wetzel was a Costa Mesa High School coach from 1961-64. That's when I got to know him. He was my physical education teacher.

Wetz returned to OCC's campus in 1964 as a P.E. instructor. He taught there for 31 years, and coached the men's basketball and volleyball teams.

For three seasons, Wetzel guided OCC's men's basketball fortunes. His 1966-67 and 1967-68 teams combined for a 47-20 record, and rank as the top two scoring teams in OCC's 63-year basketball history.

Wetzel's two squads scored in triple digits on 29 occasions. They exhibited an exuberant up-tempo style of play. I watched them perform on numerous occasions in a packed Peterson Gym. Since those two magical seasons, OCC's men's hoops teams have scored in triple digits 35 times in about 1,100 games.

Wetzel's two great teams featured an array of outstanding players, including John Vallely, Bruce Chapman and Craig Falconer. All three still rank among OCC's top 20 all-time career scorers. Vallely, who's still No. 1 on OCC's scoring list, went on to start for two national championship teams at UCLA, and had a stint in the NBA.

Chapman played at University of Nevada Las Vegas.

Wetzel spent 11 seasons as OCC's men's volleyball coach. He led the Pirates to seven conference titles and four state crowns. His teams had a combined record of 231-61, for .791 winning percentage.

Ken Moats was OCC's first athlete of the year, in 1948-49. He earned a baseball scholarship to UCLA and played in the Milwaukee Braves' farm system. He coached high school baseball, football, track and wrestling during his 53-year teaching career.

Nancy Hatsushi-Rogers led OCC's women's basketball team to the state title in 2003. She was the most valuable player of the State Tournament. Hatsushi-Rogers went on to play at Concordia University in Irvine and served as a Concordia graduate assistant coach.

Chris Clark rowed for two seasons at OCC, and later at Stanford and UC Berkeley. He rowed for the U.S. National Team that won a silver medal in the 1983 Pan American Games. Clark has been head crew coach at the University of Wisconsin since 1996. His 2008 Badgers captured a national title.

Steve Timmons was a starter for OCC's state champion 1979 basketball team. A two-time All-American, he led USC's men's volleyball team to three final-four appearances and a national championship in 1980. He played for the Team USA outfit that won Olympic gold medals in 1984 and 1988, and a bronze in 1992.

Congratulations to Moats, Hatsushi-Rogers, Clark, Timmons and, of course, Wetzel — five great additions to OCC's Athletic Hall of Fame!

JIM CARNETT lives in Costa Mesa. His column runs Tuesdays.

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