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April 17, 2007 > First inductees of Chabot College Hall of Fame

First inductees of Chabot College Hall of Fame

By Steve Michel

The Chabot College Athletic Hall of Fame, first opened in 2000, was the brainchild of longtime Chabot Wrestling and Golf Coach Zack Papachristos, and former Chabot Head Football Coach Tony Caviglia. "Tony and I just wanted a way to honor all the great athletes we had here in all sports over the last 40 years," said Papachristos. "We also wanted to honor the outstanding coaches who put in over 30 years of service here at Chabot.".

The glass-walled Hall of Fame display sits just outside the Main Gym. Team color yellow banners hang from the ceiling, one for each sport the college sponsors. Banners include a record of every Golden Gate Conference Championship won by Chabot teams. On the glass walls, officials inscribe the name and years played of each inductee.

"The first person we inducted was our first college president, Dr. Reed Buffington. He was such a big supporter of our athletic program. Without his help and support we would not have had all the athletic success we have enjoyed over the last 40 years," stated Papachristos. Dr. Buffington served as superintendent and president of Chabot from 1961 to 1981.

A pair of longtime coaches were also part of the Hall's first honorees. Those two were Gene Wellman, baseball coach and athletic director; and Basketball Coach John Wagoner ("A lifelong love affair with basketball" TCV, 4/3/07).

Wellman compiled an outstanding record as Chabot baseball coach. His .730 win percentage made him one of the most successful junior college coaches in the country. Wellman's teams won Golden Gate Conference championships in '68 and '76 while finishing second from 1969 all the way through 1973.

Wagoner coached basketball from '62 - '79 and was also the chairman of the Department of Physical Education. He led two Gladiator teams to Golden Gate Conference Championships in 1967 and '68; then again in '73 and '74. His overall coaching record was 307 wins and only 185 losses. Wagoner was selected twice as Golden Gate Conference Coach of the Year in 1968 and 1974. He was also selected to the Community College Hall of Fame in 1978.

Baseball players inducted by Chabot that first year of 2000 include Steve Lubratich, Dick Tidrow and George Mitterwald; all of whom went on to play Major League baseball.

Football players selected were Jeff Bames ('73 - '75), Ed Galigher ('68 - '69) and Dennis Bragonier ('69 - '70). All three went on to play pro football in the NFL.

Lester Conner ('79 - '80), was the only Chabot basketball player to make it in the NBA. Conner, profiled in TCV, Dec. 16, 2006 ("Lester Conner, NBA"), played 13 years of pro basketball after the Golden State Warriors selected him as their number one pick in 1982.

Two golfers were among that first group of honorees in 2000. Ron Cerrudo ('64) went on to play on the PGA tour. Rian McNally ('63 - '65) moved up to play major college golf at Notre Dame University in South Bend, Indiana.

Swimmer Tom Musch ('66 - '68); tennis player Bill Lewan ('69 - '71); and soccer player Mario Herrera ('73 - '74) were each the sole representatives in their respective sports to be inducted in the Hall's first year.

One of the most decorated distance runners in the nation and the world, Doug Padillia attended Chabot College in 1975. Padillia set records in the 3,000 and 5,000 Meter runs. After an outstanding career at Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah, Padillia won the World Cup Championship in the 5,000 meters; rewrote records at every level in the 3,000 Meters and represented the United States in the 1984 and 1988 Olympics in the 5,000 Meters.

Another exceptional athlete honored in 2000 was wrestler Buck Deadrich ('63 - '65) who also played football for the college. Deadrich's talents were evident beyond the sports arenas; he was student body president in 1965 and received an academic scholarship to Southern Illinois University that included football and wrestling commitments. Deadrich wrestled for the United States Olympic teams in 1968 and 1972.

"Buck was elected to the Chabot Hall of Fame for wrestling, but he could have been elected for football as well because he was a great football player also," states Papachristos. "Then we had Dave Shaw ('75 - '77) elected later to the Hall of Fame for football, but he was also one of the best wrestlers I ever coached. So Dave was another guy who should have been elected for both sports."

Female athletes in the Hall's first class include softball superstar Ella Vilche ('79 - '81). Vilche was the most versatile female athlete in the history of Chabot College. She was selected First Team All Conference in softball and volleyball and Second Team All Conference in basketball. Vilche won Chabot MVP honors in all three sports. She went on to play and excel at Fresno State.

Debbie Oxsen ('77 - '79) also was selected in 2000 for her softball accomplishments. Oxsen rewrote the offensive record books in her two years at Chabot. She batted .462 as a freshman and .425 as a sophomore for a two-year average of .441. She had 57 career RBI and 36 career stolen bases. Oxsen was selected First Team All Conference both years. She played and excelled on the Chabot volleyball team as well. Other female inductees included Terri Keisler and Lisa Mize.

Perhaps the most distinguished athlete in Chabot College history was Steve Siroy ('71 - '73) Siroy was a member of the 1972 wrestling team that brought Chabot its first-ever State Championship. He posted a record of 71 wins against only 5 losses and one draw. He moved up to UCLA on a wrestling scholarship and was captain of the second place team in the 1974 PAC-8 Tournament.

Siroy became a master of a lesser-known wrestling style, sombo, which is basically a blend of judo and traditional wrestling developed in modern times by the Russian military. Siroy was a three-time Pan American Games gold medalist in sombo wrestling; along with being a three-time national sombo champion; and captain of the Pan American team. Siroy is considered one of the most knowledgeable sombo wrestlers in the world.

Chabot College still enjoys Siroy's talents today. The former champion is currently the wrestling coach, a position he's held since taking over from Papachristos in 1983.

Exhibits at Chabot College Hall of Fame may be seen during normal business hours on campus. Each February, the college hosts a dinner to honor that year's group of inductees.

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