Class of 2015

Marcus Murray

Basketball

Antioch High School 1995

When your brother plays in the NBA, expectations are high. Marcus Murray, the brother of 12-year NBA veteran Lamond Murray, met those expectations head on. The 6-foot-5 forward, compared to another NBA All-Star — Charles Barkley, was a three-year All-Bay Valley Athletic League performer and was named the league’s MVP his senior year in 1994-95.

He is one of only two Antioch High Panthers to ever be named league MVP (the other was Major League pitcher Alex Sanchez in 1984) and after the season was picked to the East-West All-Star game. He led the East that night in scoring with 30 points.

His domination against the area’s best didn’t surprise his Antioch coach Bob Fisher, who coached basketball for 40 years before retiring two years ago. He didn’t flinch or hesitate when he called Murray: “The best high school player I ever coached.”

“He played inside, could shoot from the outside. If we needed a ball handler in the middle of our press, Marcus was our man. With all his scoring, he was very unselfish. He took good shots. He was a very good teammate.”

Murray showed steady improvement throughout his prep career, averaging 9.7 points while earning an All-BVAL honor mention selection as a sophomore. He increased his scoring average to 17.6 per game and was a first-team All-BVAL pick as a junior.

He started his senior season with a bang, scoring 27 points in the team’s season opener, a 73-67 upset win over San Ramon Valley. That earned him Ledger Dispatch Player of the Week honors and paved the way for his second straight team Most Valuable Player award.

He averaged 20.1 points and 9.3 rebounds per game as a senior and he was nominated for the 1995 McDonald’s All-American high school team. He won the BVAL league when it was at its prime basketball wise.

“It was a total power league,” Fisher said. “There was De La Salle, Berkeley, Pinole Valley, El Cerrito, Monte Vista and Pittsburg. But Marcus was the obvious choice.”

Murray did all of it despite the pressure of being not only Lamond’s younger brother, but also being related to cousins Tracy and Cameron Murray. Tracy played 15 years in the NBA and Cameron was a star point guard at Louisville.

“None of that ever seemed to bother Marcus,” Fisher said. “Lamond was very supportive and came to a lot of our games. Marcus didn’t ever act like he was entitled to any special treatment because of his bloodlines. He was a good kid and got great grades. He was confident. He knew he was good, but didn’t act like it.” But because of his lack of height — he was considered a “tweener,” — Division I colleges didn’t take a chances on Murray. He played one season at Los Angeles Southwest Junior College in 1995-96, won the team’s MVP award after averaging 20.2 points per game.

“He was playing against some really talented kids,” Fisher said. “He definitely proved himself to the Division I program.”

After one season, the University of New Orleans, offered him a scholarship that Murray accepted. He played in 40 games during the 1997-98 season. He earned a Bachelor’s Degree in business at UNO and is now owner of Digital Marketing 365 LLC.

“There wasn’t anything on the basketball court Marcus couldn’t do,” Fisher said. “It was a pleasure and honor to coach him.”

Mike Vera

Golf

Antioch High School 1996

Starting in the middle 1980s, Antioch High School churned out collegiate golfers almost annually.

Larry Silveira (San Jose State, University of Arizona 1984), Scott Olds (UOP, 1987), Jeff Lyons (Oregon, 1988) and Chris Ryne (St. Mary’s College, 1989) were all scholarship golfers who sported the Panthers’ black and gold.

Holding up that tradition in the 90’s was Michael Vera, a four-time Antioch team MVP and 1994 North Coast Section champion who earned a scholarship to UCLA.

“Antioch has a reputation of having good junior players,” Vera told Antioch Ledger scribe Kerry Young after accepting his scholarship to UCLA. “They don’t have a lot of money and they don’t have as many privileges as some other kids playing at a public course, but they’re competitive.”

The 1996 Antioch graduate was a four-time All-Bay Valley Athletic League first-team performer also tied for seventh in the CIF Northern California tournament as a junior. That year, he won the BVAL title with an even par round of 72 at Rancho Solano Golf Course in Fairfield.

What made that title so special was, five minutes before he teed off he switched to a cross-handed putting stroke. Vera was that talented and versatile.

“He’d never done it before,” Antioch coach Ron Olds told the Contra Costa Times. “He decided to do it because he’s been putting so bad, and it worked.”

Vera finished among the top 10 at NorCals as a sophomore, the same season he won NCS.

Vera was a standout even before high school, acing a hole in one at the Lone tree Golf Course (hole 14) and winning the Northern California Golf Tournament for ages 12 and 13 at age 12. Later he captured the under-14 division of the Las Vegas AJGA Tournament in 1992 and he also won the Antioch Junior Golf title at 14.

He led the Panthers to a BVAL title his freshmen season by recording the team’s best scoring average. That set the tone for a superb four-year prep career that also included a two-year varsity stint on the basketball team. The 6-foot, 165-pound guard averaged 15 points per game and shot 40 percent on three-pointers as a senior.

Shortly after the basketball season, he opened his senior golf campaign by winning the Joe Gambetta Invitational at Lone Tree, by shooting a 2-over-par round of 73. He actually tied Alhambra junior Chad Navarro, but then won in sudden death. He made 14 straight pars during regulation of his round, and then made two more in the playoff to win.

“It definitely wasn’t exciting golf,” Vera told Young afterward. “It was tough out there. It was rainy, windy. … It was hard concentrating on just golf.”

But Vera’s versatility and ability to adapt is what attracted colleges to him. He picked UCLA, where he lettered for four years, because of its superb home courses, tradition and location. The Bruins won the 1988 NCAA title and over the years produced such standouts as Corey Pavin, Duffy Waldorf and Steve Pate.

After graduation from UCLA, Vera set a then Lone Tree Golf Course record with a round of 63.

Pat Sweeney

Wrestling

To win a CIF team title in any sport takes some extra special and even unexpected performances.

Pat Sweeney, a 1988 graduate, came through with a doozy helping Antioch High win its only State wrestling title that same year at the University of Pacific in Stockton.

Unlike most CIF sports that are broken down by divisions, State wrestling pits all comers, so to win a State crown individually or as a team is an extra-ordinary accomplishment.

Sweeney, who didn’t even win a North Coast Section crown — he finished second in the 132-pound weight class — took third at State after eliminating the number 1 and 2 State ranked wrestlers helping the Panthers capture the title with 89.5 points compared to 66 for runner-up Capistrano Valley of Mission Viejo.

Sweeney was one of four State placers for the Panthers; including the team’s only champion Jason Verduzco. That 1988 team was inducted into the 2010 Sports Legends class.

"The State tournament is unique because you can sometimes win with a few individuals," Coach Steve Sanchez told the Contra Costa Times before a 2008 team reunion. "We not only had a team that could go to the State tournament and win but also if it was a dual meet tournament, we'd be right in there also."

Sweeney was a huge part of that team, taking first place at four tournaments: the Reno Sierra Nevada Classic, the Clovis/Pepsi Invitational, the San Marin Green and Gold and the DVAL Championships, the second year in a row he captured the league crown. He also second place at Arcata and third place at the Overfelt Tournament.

He finished 41-4 that season — winning the most matches on the team — and earned the Coaches’ Award from Sanchez. Other awards he won his senior year were: The Golden State Wrestling Club Scholarship Award, the Albert Seeno Athlete of the Week award and Wrestler of the Week award. His vast improvement to his senior year was a big reason why the Panthers won it all.

As a junior Sweeney was 28-9 and took fifth at NCS. Besides winning a league title, he was third at the Bellarmine Tournament, fourth at the Reno Sierra Nevada Classic and sixth at the Overfelt Tournament.

As a sophomore, he went 10-3 on varsity, taking fourth at the Far Western Junior Olympics Freestyle and fifth at the Overfelt Tournament. He was the DVAL junior varsity championship that season, the second straight year he won it. As a ninth-grader at Park Junior High, Sweeney also won the title.

In all, Sweeney placed at the State meet once (third), placed at NCS twice (second and fifth) and was two-time varsity and two-time junior varsity DVAL champion.

Mike Reale

All-Around Athlete

Mike Reale was a poster boy for old-school Antioch.

Country strong and blessed with a blue-collar work ethic, Reale was the rock of Gibraltar. The king of the playing fields. A kid for all seasons.

The 1981 Antioch High School graduate was a three-sport standout — All-Diablo Valley Athletic League in football and baseball and a state-qualifier in wrestling. He earned eight varsity letters overall and was named the school’s Most Valuable Senior Athlete in 1981.

“I absolutely loved being a three-sport athlete,” Reale said. “It’s just something I always did. I loved the different sports and playing with all my different teammates. I wouldn’t have done it any other way.”

In football, the 6 foot, 217-pounder was a hard-hitting linebacker for a team that allowed less than a touchdown per game. He and fellow linebacker Mark Halverson won the team’s “Hardest Hitter” Award and each averaged at least 10 tackles a game. Reale was named MVP. “In the traditional 4-3 defense, everything was funneled to us,” he said modestly. “We just did what we were supposed to.” Reale did much more than crunch people. He also played guard and was the team’s kicker. It seemed there was nothing Reale didn’t excel at.  Besides being selected to the 1981 Contra Costa County All-Star team, the Antioch Ledger selected him to its “80’s Team of the Decade” as a first-team linebacker.

Though he had a passion for basketball, wrestling was the sport of choice in the region. Reale went through his sophomore league season unbeaten in action in the heavyweight division and finished second in the DVAL league meet. He was going to skip his senior season, but was talked into by his mentor and assistant football coach Randy Autentico, who just took over the wrestling team.

In his senior year, he was again undefeated in league, won the DVAL league tournament and placed third in the 200 pound class at North coast Section to qualify for the state meet. Reale was named team captain and MVP.  

It proved a good choice, as Reale won the DVAL 200-pound weight class, placed third at North Coast Section to qualify for the state meet. He called reaching the state meet at Chico State one of the highlights of his high school athletic career.

“Considering I wasn’t even planning to go out it was a big surprise and a big deal,” Reale said.

In baseball, he was the Panthers’ starting catcher as a sophomore and team captain as a junior when he hit .313 and led the DVAL in home runs and Antioch to a league crown. “We had great team that year,” he said. “We won 13 straight at one point.” There were many win streaks at Antioch back then, Reale said. Kids were confident because of their blue-collar upbringing. “It felt like a small town,” he said. “Everyone was intertwined. All the parents worked together. There was pride and camaraderie. And that all instilled confidence.”

That spilled over after high school for Reale who went on to excel in football at Cal State Hayward, where he played for future Oregon coach Mike Bellotti. Reale was a special team’s captain as a freshman and started as a sophomore.

He transferred to Sacramento State because it offered electrical engineering, played a season but then focused full time at school. It proved a smart move. He earned Bachelor and Master’s degrees and for the past 19 year he’s run his own engineer business in Roseville, while he and high school sweetheart Renee (Campbell) Reale raised their two children, Kathryn and Michael. Reale coached his kids in soccer, baseball and basketball, while staying very active himself. He’s run six marathons, including The Boston Marathon, and is an avid golfer (8.3 handicap).

Mike points back to Antioch mentors like his late father Mike — “he never missed a game or practice,” Reale said — his late father-in-law Ken Campbell and coaches such as Randy Autentico and Sal Seno, his best friend’s father, as key figures.

Autentico arrived in his life as a ninth-grader at Park Junior High, where Reale was voted the school’s Most Valuable athlete.

“Randy was my mentor, my coach, my champion,” he said. “He was always there for me. He wasn’t just a great athletic coach but a life coach. There isn’t a day that goes by I don’t think about him. He taught me so much.”

Steven Parks

Football

Antioch High School 1970

They hadn’t beaten archrival Pittsburg in 22 seasons, so the Panthers had the will, the team, the talent and they had Steve Parks.

The tenacious junior halfback was the game’s leading rusher (63 yards) and scored the go-ahead touchdown in the third quarter of a 20-0 Antioch victory. He did so with a broken elbow.

Parks called the victory, which earned the team a special award from the Antioch City Council, his most memorable prep sports moment in a memorable career.

He had consecutive rushing games of 205 yards against Ygnacio Valley and 137 versus Concord during the 1969 season. While sitting out the last game due to his injury in the Pitt game he finished the year with 524 yards in seven games and was an honorable mention All-Diablo Valley Athletic League selection.

As a senior, he was voted team captain, earned the Panthers’ Ron Pritchard award, and was the lone unanimous All-DVAL selection; the league’s leading rusher 843 yards, (917 for the season, 143 carries, 6.41 per carry) and led Antioch to a co-league title.

The Panthers also beat Pittsburg for a second straight year. “It was no fluke,” Parks said.

It helped to have a running mate like Mike Lucido. The two made a great one-two punch. They each had seven touchdowns and 50 points, trailing only league scoring champion Jim Wood (Pleasant Hill) with 68.

Parks was a big-play back as Pacifica found out. He had scoring runs of 58 and 60 yards and finished with 169 yards on just nine carries. He didn’t even play the second half.

“We had an incredibly balanced offense,” Parks said. “Coach Comstock really had a strong desire to spread the scoring around.”

In the summer of 1971, Parks was voted Co-Team Captain for the Contra Costa County All-Stars started against the Alameda County All-Stars.

He earned a scholarship to Oregon State and though his college career was cut back by injury, Parks did treasure playing against the nation’s No. 1 team USC at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum.

“I injured my knee that night and that turned out to be my last football game,” Parks said.

Leaving Oregon State, Parks had chances to go to other schools and play football — Idaho, BYU, Boise State and UC Davis. But he decided to focus on his career.

Parks graduated from California State University at Chico (1976) with a degree in Industrial Technology (Electronics). He went onto a successful 35-year career in the semiconductor industry holding numerous positions in engineering, marketing and product management.

Steve is an active member of the Antioch Sports Legends and is chairman of the Legacy Fund, Strategic Planning and the Alumni Association committees.

As of the summer of 2015, he’s been married 36 years to wife Marian, another 1971 Antioch graduate, and the couple has two children, Greg (25) and Jon (22).

He and Marian have been residents of Pleasanton for the past 29 years. He’s the Product Marketing Director for Precision Analog and Mixed Signal Products at Intersil Corporation in Milpitas.

1977 Antioch High School Football Team- Click to enlarge photo

Football

Third Row: Coach Gary San Martin, Coach Ron Morelli, Gordy Darling, Bert Reese, Bill Douville, Rich Lisa, Steven Shelton, Joe Gleason, Reuben Lana, Dan Carden, Scott Bergerhouse, Greg Taylor, Gary Noack, Rick Spohn, Mike Olenchalk, Kevin Bean, Brian Harris, Unknown, Head Coach Marvin Comstock, Coach Charlie Jones.

Back Row: Trainer, Darrell MacCarter, Joe Aiello, Kenneth Vosmers, George Del Monte, Jerry Jones, Pat Welch, Ferris Anthony, Frank Riebschalger, Gary Pico, Darryl Corzine, Rich Trabold, Tom Moore, Jim Manly, Rich Taylor, Ken Harvey, Unknown.

The 1977 Antioch High School football team had it all: speed, power, depth, a Hall of Fame coach and most of all, camaraderie.

 

“We truly played like a team,” nose guard Ferris Anthony said. “We didn’t even have names on our jerseys. We just played for the guy playing next to us.”

 

With a roster approaching 60, coach Marv Comstock — a 2009 Sports Legends Hall of Famer — had few, if any, go both ways.

 

The Panthers, reflecting Comstock’s hard-nosed personality, won 10 straight games before losing in the North Coast Section 3A finals 35-26 to favored Mission San Jose at DVC.

 

Buoyed in the middle by the 305-pound Anthony and led by active, hard-hitting linebackers Jerry Jones and Doug Jones, the defense allowed 107 points and included three consecutive shutouts heading into the title game.

“The Jones boys were crazy good,” Anthony said. “They attacked sideline to sideline. They were really, really good.”

 

The offense, run by QB Scott Bergerhouse, was led by fullback Bill Douville, tailback Tony Lang and flanker Mike Shaw. Douville wasn’t swift, but he was an absolute load and earned team MVP and All-Northern California honors.

 

“Think Marv Hubbard,” Anthony said. “He ran straight down hill.”

 

Lang (2011 SL-HOF member) and Shaw (2012 SL-HOF), a pair of juniors, were fast and athletic and attacked on the perimeter, leading to big wins over Berkeley (24-19), Pittsburg (36-22) and Mt. Diablo (30-6). They finished second in the final East Bay Poll behind champion Mission San Jose.

Lang reminds Anthony of current Antioch tailback Najee Harris, who is ranked the top junior back in the country by 247 Sports.com. He’s also the No. 6 recruit in the country overall for his class.

“Lang could run over you but he could really scoot to the outside,” Anthony said. “Those two guys (Lang and Shaw) were really lightning to (Douville’s) thunder.”

 

Six players earned Diablo Valley Athletic League first team honors from the 1977 Championship Team : Douville, Lang, Doug Jones special teams, center Pat Welch, tackle Rich Taylor and receiver Gary Pico.

Six more were second team selections: Shaw, Doug Jones linebacker, guard Mark Long, tight end Tom Moore, defensive lineman Jim Ryan and defensive back Kevin Bean.

Douville and Jerry Jones were first team All-East Bay selections, Lang, Taylor and Bean were second teamers and Welch and Pico were honorable mentions. With Bill Douville earning the sole All-Northern California honor.

All that top talented led to a North Coast Section 3A championship game against Mission San Jose at Diablo. MSJ jumped out to a big lead and then hung on for the victory.

“They were heavily favored,” Anthony said. “And they took it to us early. But we never stopped coming at them. We got inside a touchdown but they scored late to seal it.”

Afterward, the Panthers weren’t that dejected, Anthony said.

“We definitely gave it our all,” he said. “We could have quit when we got down big, but we kept fighting back. It was a great group. One I’ll always remember.”

Kraig Walker

Wrestling

Antioch High School 1983

He was known affectionately by teammates and fearfully by opponents as “The Mauler.” By the end of his two-year wrestling career, he was better known as the first ever Antioch High School grappler to place at the State meet.

 

The 1983 graduate placed fourth his senior season in the 148-pound division at the State meet held at Selland Arena in Fresno.

 

As a sophomore, Walker went 18-2 en route to a junior varsity title. Antioch coach Steve Sanchez said of him heading into his junior campaign: “Pound for pound, he’s one of the strongest wrestlers on the team. He is also very aggressive.”

 

That's largely why he earned his nickname along with toying with lesser opponents to get in the work. He could have recorded many more pins, but he enjoyed the process. 

“When a guy gets pinned, he can walk away and say it’s a fluke,” assistant Antioch coach Frank Orlando said. “But they can’t say that after they get done wrestling Walker.”

Said Sanchez: “He is a mauler. He’s an ornery kid when he’s out there.”

His skill and nature paved the way to a Diablo Valley Athletic League varsity title as a junior and third in the 140-pound division at North Coast Section.  

 

Walker was the first Antioch junior to reach state the State meet since 1973 and after clinching third at NCS, he stood in the center of the mat and raised his arms. “I’ve never shown that much emotion after a match,” Walker told the Antioch Ledger “I can’t believe I’m going to state. This is the best moment of my wrestling career." 

 

But Walker was just getting started. 

 

His senior year was even better. He led the Panthers to second place at the Peninsula Christmas Wrest Tournament at South San Francisco High School by winning four straight matches, including 11-9 in the finals to improve to 13-0 on the season. 

 

He helped the Panthers open Diablo Valley Athletic League play with a 33-18 win over College Park. Walker pinned David Williams 30 seconds into the third round after piling up a 17-1 lead. It was his 17th straight win to start the year, 10 by pins. 

Walker went on to not only win the DVAL title, but the league's MVP Martin Olivera Award. He then took fourth at State and finished his illustrious prep career with an 81-14 record.

 

After Walker’s prep success he received a full ride scholarship to San Jose State, where he won the PCAA championship in 1984-85. That qualified him for the NCAA tournament.

 

One of his college highlights was taking first place in the 158-pound division at the Beehive Tournament on the campus of Utah State. Walker beat Lonnie Currier, the nation's No. 17th-ranked wrestler, in the semifinals before beating Boise State's K.C. Lane in the finals 9-3. 

"Kraig was only predicted to finish in fourth place," San Jose State coach Dale Kestel told SJSU Daily staff writer Marty Picone that week. "But he looked very steady and aggressive and didn't seem to be bothered by the high elevation."

Walker always seemed to rise past expectation.

Keisha Johnson

All-Around Athlete

Antioch High School 1994

The path of Keisha Johnson’s life has always gone one general direction: Upward, outward and far-reaching.

From an illustrious three-sport prep stint at Antioch High School in 1991-93 to her All-Pac 10 volleyball time at the University of Arizona to a professional volleyball playing and coaching career to her steady rise from assistant coach and recruiting director at North Carolina State to current Partnership Developer title on campus, Johnson has continually strived for and reached greatness through a seamless blend of grace, talent and hard work.

A smooth 6-foot center, Johnson was a three-time All-Bay Valley Athletic League basketball player for the Panthers, starting her sophomore season, while averaging approximately 20 points and 10 rebounds per game.

Volleyball coach Lou Panzella convinced her to pursue volleyball, and the naturally gifted athlete earned second-team All-BVAL honors as a sophomore and first team honors as a senior.

For fun her senior year, Johnson gave track and field a whirl and predictably qualified for the state meet with a shot put heave of 37 feet, 7¼ inches.

 Whatever Johnson attempted, she excelled.

Her late stepfather Willie Evell Singleton, a football and baseball standout at UCLA, helped inspire her to athletic feats. “John Wooden asked him to come out for the basketball team too,” Keisha said. “He and my mom always instilled in me to strive to be the best I could possibly be.”

It helped also to have fantastic coaches. Her basketball coaches Sue Cottier (Class of 2008) and John Whitman (2012) are Antioch Hall of Fame members. Panzella will certainly be considered strongly when he retires.  

“Being surrounded by good, quality coaches during my time in Antioch definitely helped,” Johnson said of her development.

 

But there’s no substitute for sheer athleticism. And Johnson had it.

She had dozens of Division I basketball offers, but picked Arizona because the Wildcats also allowed her to play volleyball. That thrilled then and still now Arizona volleyball coach Dave Rubio. “When we saw her as a high school player, we knew she had great potential,” he said in 1995. But admittedly, Johnson was raw. She redshirted her freshman year. “Frankly, I couldn’t get any worse,” she said at the time. “(Compared to the other girls) I had played volleyball for a short time.”

In the meantime, Arizona’s then basketball coach Joan Bonvicini couldn’t wait to get Johnson to the court. “She is just a fantastic athlete,” she said at the time.

Ultimately, Johnson’s love for volleyball prevailed. She earned a spot on the first team All-Pac 10 freshman squad in 1995 and eventually a scholarship. She devoted herself to volleyball and never looked back. “I just was not that happy when I was playing basketball,” she said then. “It worked out great because I was able to accomplish a lot with volleyball and I can now devote more of my time and focus to it."

Boy, could she focus. Johnson earned first team All-Pac 10 honors as a senior, and of 2014 still ranks among the Arizona top-10 leaders in match records in total blocks (12) and block assists (10). After earning a spot on the US National volleyball team, she represented our country internationally, helping win the 2000 Millennium Cup. During that time she also played in the United States Professional Volleyball League for two seasons — she also served as a league promotions assistant — and was named to the league’s Dream Team. She then played a season in Spain and coached with the St. Louis Quest of the USVL.

Following a four years as an assistant coach and recruiting coordinator at Boise State starting in 2002, Johnson carried on the same duties for four years at North Carolina State.

From there, she focused on her children Jade (now 12) and Thomas IV (age 7), and transferred her people, business, volleyball and recruiting skills to the public sector.

She returned to North Carolina State in 2014 as the school’s Partnership Developer, where she builds and manages relationships between university and business leaders. She still trains young athletes, including her daughter.

When asked the keys to her successful life, Johnson’s answer in 1995 mirrored the one she gives today.

"I owe all my personal and team achievements and hard work to my faith and belief in God and to my parents,” Johnson said. “I think my success is due to my determination and my personality of being pretty competitive; that's just pretty much the way I am.”

Joe Olenchalk

Community Leader

As a 36-year award-winning educator at Antioch junior and senior high schools, a championship cross-country coach, an AHS Boosters Club President and a chairman, researcher and docent of the Antioch Sports Legends Hall of Fame, Joe Olenchalk has given more to one community than many neighborhoods have combined.

If one instance personifies Olenchalk’s dedication to Antioch’s sporting community than all others it was during his time as teacher, coach and booster’s president between 1978-81.

One fall sports banquet went unattended by most of the coaching staffs due to an unresolved contract negotiations. Olenchalk, however, ignored a “sick out,” by teachers and made sure that the student athletes received the recognition they deserved.

During that three-year stretch, Olenchalk led the Panthers to three consecutive Diablo Valley Athletic League girls’ cross-country championships.

As strong and dedicated Olenchalk was as a coach and educator, his greatest humanitarian traits showed after serving in the army in the 1940s. He worked as a physical reconditioning instructor for wounded veterans.

Many of those soldiers that came back from war had traumatic limb injuries. They led to mental instability, but Olenchalk as a physical reconditioning instructor provided physical and mental support to prepare them for life after war.

After this monumental act of patriotism and altruism, he fed his mind, earning a Bachelor’s Degree from the University of Kansas in 1952 and a Master’s Degree from Eastern New Mexico University in 1958.

He then dedicated his life to teaching with a specialty in science, starting in Rawlings, Wyoming, where he roamed as a physical education teacher. He left there and moved to Stockton to teach.

Olenchalk earned numerous state and national science awards and in 1991 was honored at an awards banquet held by Tandy Technology Scholars at the Press Club in Washington DC. The event was hosted by the venerable CBS’s Face the Nation’s moderator Bob Shieffer and U. S. Secretary of Education Dr. Ted Sanders.

Olenchalk co-authored textbooks earned a biology fellowship from the University of California, Berkeley, Lawrence Hall of Science and created national and international science research programs. He also served on three Antioch High School WASC accredited commissions, which assured the public that school programs, including athletics, reflected high standards.

Retiring in 1992 meant even more community involvement. Consider his long list of service:

  • Antioch Riverfront Commission member
  • Chairman of the Antioch Police Commission (1995-99)
  • Antioch Unified School District Board of Education Trustee (1999-2004)
  • Mello-Roos Board Member (1999-2004, 2007-2009)
  • Research Committee member Antioch Sports Legends HOF (2006-2010)
  • Chairman Docents of Antioch Sports Legends HOF (2007-09)
  • Active Docent for Antioch Sports Legends HOF (2007-14)

When many would see retirement as personal time, Olenchalk answered the call from community leaders to serve in many subsequent roles, continuing to this day.

His legacy as an educator, coach and community service worker touched students that would go on to become doctors, researches, professors and mill workers.

His lifetime dedication to Antioch students, challenging them to excellence, has been inspiring and relentless.

Olenchalk established a classroom of respect, honor and integrity, establishing a foundation upon which successful lives and communities are built and sustained.

“Working with some outstanding students meant more to me than awards,” Olenchalk once said.

That, in one sentence, sums up the motivation and altruism of Joe Olenchalk.

Brian Oliver

Baseball

Antioch High School 1995

In the storied history of Antioch High School baseball, the early to mid-1990s might have been the programs best. Much of that had to do with a talented shortstop named Brian Oliver.

The 1995 graduate joined Coach John Whitman (2012), pitcher Manuel Bermudez (2014) and second baseball Aaron Miles (2014), Antioch Sport Legends Hall of Fame members all, to form one of the most formidable teams in the Bay Area that decade.

The Panthers won back-to-back North Coast Section 3A championships, including a 9-2 win over De La Salle in the 1995 title game at the Oakland Coliseum.

It was a fitting conclusion to a brilliant career for Oliver, who was listed as one of the top five shortstops in the country heading into his senior year by Baseball America magazine.

None of it surprised his Antioch Little League and Antioch American Legion coach LeRoy Murray. “He was extremely dedicated, disciplined and hard working even as a young kid,” Murray said. “He and his dad (Rick) put in hours upon hours upon hours of work. He was the kind of kid any coach would love to coach.”

The a four-time first-team All-BVAL player even made second-team All-BVAL as a freshman when he hit .405 in 1992. Over the next three seasons, he and Aaron Miles were considered one of the nation’s top double-play combinations, teaming up for 27 career double plays.

In 1993 he earned first-team All-East Bay, All-Lesher and All-Northern California honors. In 1994, he was an All-BVAL and All-Lesher team member and after his senior year, he was selected to the North-South Game and to a California All-Star team that played an All-Star squad from Oklahoma.

Besides offering a nifty glove and superb range, Oliver was a disciplined hitter and fantastic lead off man. “His pitch selection was outstanding,” Murray said. “As he got older, he got stronger and his power numbers improved.”

Oliver went the college route to Cal where he hit .335 with 32 RBIs and 21 stolen bases, earning Freshman All-American team honors by both Baseball America and Collegiate Baseball magazines. Brian was the first freshmen in Cal baseball history to earn Freshmen All-America honors and as a sophomore was selected for the USA Collegiate team.

That set the tone for a superb three-year college career. His .358 career average is 10th best in Cal history as of 2014 and he added 39 doubles, seven triples, 14 home runs, 91 RBI’s and 53 stolen bases. In 1998, he was awarded the team’s Most Inspirational Player. At the start of Brian’s junior year University of California’s Cal Baseball Outlook online magazine stated,” There’s no doubt Cal will be led by junior shortstop Oliver, team captain and according to (Bob) Milano the best middle infielder he ever coached.” Cal Coach Bob Milano was induction in the American Baseball Coaches Association's Hall of Fame in 2010.

A fourth-round pick of the Angels in 1998 — one of just 13 AHS Panthers or DVHS Wolverines to play AA Baseball or higher — he played five minor league seasons and had a career .262 average with 51 extra-base hits, 69 RBIs, 17 steals and nine home runs.

He left behind a legacy as one of the finest and most dedicated baseball players Antioch has ever produced.

“He was a quiet kid who just put in the work and made himself a great baseball player,” Murray said. “Personally, I felt lucky to have coached him.”

Courtney Johnson

Basketball

Antioch High School 1997

Courtney Johnson was unstoppable that night in 1996. The 5-foot-8 point guard scored an Antioch school record 46 points, 21 in the fourth quarter, and made 20 of 22 free throws during a 55-33 upset victory over Carondelet.

“I just had this feeling I couldn’t miss a shot,” she told Larry Espinola of the Antioch Ledger. “I felt no one could stop me that night. I hope I get that feeling again.”

One of Antioch’s greatest all-around athletes — she also stood out on the volleyball court and softball diamond — Johnson will get to re-live those feelings as one of 14 individual honored from the Class of 2015 Antioch Sports Legends. Johnson will join her sister Stacey, who was honored with the Class of 2014.

A third team Parade All-American her senior season in 1996-97, Johnson averaged 22.2 points per game, leading the Panthers to a 23-4 season. The lightning quick guard was a four-time first-team All-Bay Valley Athletic League and finished as the Antioch High’s career scoring leader with 2,035 points. The Contra Costa Times selected Johnson the female Athlete of the Year in 1995-96 — she averaged 25.0 points per game in BVAL play that year — and she was one of the region’s Top 50 female athletes in 1996-97 when she was second-team All-League in softball and team Co-MVP in volleyball.

She credited her sister for inspiring her and pushing her to new heights. In fact, Johnson broke Stacey’s scoring records at Antioch. “Stacey is definitely my idol,” Johnson said in 1996. “When I was in the fourth grade, I used to wear her letterman’s jacket everywhere and I was so proud. I used to hope I could get to her level.”

That wouldn’t be easy as Stacey went on to star at both Arizona State and Houston. But little sister did just fine while starting three seasons at Cal, earning honorable mention All-Pac-10 team honors her junior season.

She was voted Cal’s MVP in 2000 and 2001 and twice was picked as the team’s top defender. She graduated with 1,077 career points; as of 2014 is ranked second in Cal ‘s individual career steals (286) and made 271 free throws. Her assists-to-turnover ratio was one of the best in school history. Courtney would become the first California women’s basketball player to earn first team All-Pac 10 honors since 1975. On March 27, 2001, the City of Berkeley proclaimed it Courtney Johnson Day for her “tremendous impact on the women’s basketball program” at Cal. Further, the proclamation read: “Courtney Johnson’s confidence, leadership, teamwork, love of the game, spirit and work in the community service is a measure for her success, and serves as a positive role model for youth. … Both on and off the court, Courtney Johnson is a true champion. She has made disciplined decisions to honor God, family, team and school to be an extraordinary person of leadership in strength. … She will always be a champion in the hearts and mind of those who felt her positive influence.”

Craig Carson

Coach

Antioch High School - Deer Valley High School

Craig Carson can relate to the old proverb “Give a man a fish you feed him for a day; Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.”

Carson has largely taught the East County how to swim. It’s led to an enriching life.

Since 1975, the focused and gregarious gent has coached swimming at local high schools — 34 seasons with boys and 25 seasons coaching girls. His overall record is 380-92-3, with 17 league championships.

Craig’s forte for coaching is matched by few in Northern California.

Carson has coached 36 individual All-Americans, including Steven Sanchez, AHS ’90 ’91. He’s also coached more than 100 individual and 60 relay league champions.

Carson coached AHS water polo and swimming teams through 15 different seasons, and DVHS eight seasons.

His Antioch swimming teams went 115-37-2, winning a DVAL boys championship (1987), and a BVAL girls championship (1993). He coached the boys from 1979 to 1988 and from 1992 to 1995. He coached the girls from 1984 to 1988 and the 1992 to 1995.

In 1987, while at Antioch High, he was named the DVAL Swim Coach of the Year.

He also co-founded the Antioch Swimming Relays with Greg DeCristofaro that went from 1982 to 2004. It acted as Antioch’s main fundraisers each year.

His Deer Valley swimming squads were a combined 130-31-1, also winning a BVAL boys championship in 2003 and girls in 2004.

Since 2008, he’s coached at Heritage and combined to post a combined record of 102-18, with seven straight boys BVAL championships and six straight girls’ titles.

He received the Outstanding BVAL Coach of the Year for all sports in 2012 – For ‘Leadership, Professionalism and Integrity’

Actively serving the swimming community Craig has served as a speaker and committee leader locally, statewide and nationally.

The American Swimming Coaches Association, California Interscholastic High School Federation and United States Swim School Association have all benefited from his involvement.

Carson founded the Delta Waves, an Antioch-based swimming team (1982-88) and was voted the USA Swimming, Pacific Age Group Coach of the Year in 1988.

He was an assistant coach at Cal (1976-1979), helping the Bears win a national championship in 1979. He currently coaches the Sea Wolves and Heritage HS in Brentwood.

Of course, swimming hasn’t taken up all of his time over the years. He also coached water polo at AHS from 1979 to 1987. The Panthers piled up more than 50 wins during that time.

Though passing the ball, scoring and playing defense are all huge in water polo, swimming and speed are at the forefront of success. Carson has been a local legendary figure in teaching those skills.

With his wife Paulette they established the Carson Swim School (C and P Aquatics Inc.) in Brentwood in 1985 and still exist. He established the same school in Antioch in 2007.

Carson estimates that over the past 26 years, he has taught more than 30,000 children how to swim, and at the very least, “given them an appreciation for the water,” he said.

Frank Beede

Football

Antioch High School 1991

The name Beede is synonymous with the city of Antioch. There is Beede Auditorium, Beede Park, Beede Way and Beede Lumber Yard. It’s hard to imagine a family history with a stronger bond to Antioch.

That’s a large legacy to live up to, but 6-foot-4, 296-pound Frank McNulty Beede III was up for the challenge.

The mammoth guard and center played five years with the National Football League, Seattle Seahawks and six with the Arena Football League, San Jose Sabercats. He played 48 games with the Seahawks, starting eight, before helping the Sabercats to Arena League titles in 2002, 2004 and 2007.

The 1991 Antioch High School graduate was a three-sport standout, earning the Bay Valley Athletic League heavyweight wrestling championship as a senior. He also lettered in track and field.

Football, of course, is where he excelled, earning first team All-BVAL honors and second-team All-East Bay recognition by the Oakland Tribune. He was selected to the Contra Costa-Alameda All-Star football team, and then earned a scholarship to Cal where he played three seasons.

Beede started in the 1993 Alamo Bowl and earned All-Pac 10 Conference honorable mention honors in 1994.

He transferred to Oklahoma Panhandle State and earned second team NAIA All-American honors in 1995 and was honored by being appointed by the newspaper, The Daily Oklahoman as State college “All Century Team” in 1999. In January of this year Frank was nominated to the 2015 class to be inducted into OPS Hall of Fame. All proving OPS head coach Rick Hassl’s quote “He was the most dominating linemen in the conference.”

Though not drafted, he signed with the Seahawks in 1996 and became the first free agent in franchise history to earn a starting position. His finest award might have come after he retired from professional football.

He coached and taught at both Antioch and Oakley-Freedom and in 2010, the NFL honored him with its “Teacher of the Year” award during a surprise assembly at Freedom. It caught him completely off guard, much like his professional football career did. “I was in the Young Teachers Association when I was in high school and I always knew I wanted to go into education,” he said at the time of the award.

He thanked a pair of Park Middle School teachers, Loraine Clayton and Jim Lunsford, for steering him to education. Beede deflected attention about his athletic achievements and, in fact, noted that he wasn’t terribly gifted.

He often told his players: “It is not about the skill, but it’s about the will,” he said. “I really didn’t expect to have a NFL career. I wasn’t even thinking about it, then I was fortunate enough to make it.”

Gerald Gamble

Track and Field

Antioch High School 1984

At 5-foot-10 and 185 pounds, Gerald Gamble didn’t look much like a track and field shot put and discus athlete. Then again, he didn’t perform like an ordinary one either.

The 1984 Antioch High School graduate ranks as the best discus thrower the school has ever produced and second best shot putter. His best in the discus is 182 feet, 3 inches is almost 10 feet further than the next best mark in school history. His personal best in the shot put of 59-9½ is an inch short of Pat Zech’s school record of 59-10½. Zech is a member of the 2009 Sports Legends Hall of Fame class.

Gamble, who transferred from College Park following his freshmen year, made up for his lack of size with impressive strength — he could bench press 360 pounds — work ethic and superb technique taught to him by Coach Willis Ball. “Most of the people I go against are usually 6-4 and 250,” Gamble told Antioch Ledger reporter Larry Espinola in 1984. “”I’m able to beat them because I have better form. They look at me and wonder how I can do it.”

Gamble was known for his resourceful and determined nature. During his senior year, an Antioch bus taking the team to an out-of-town destination was boxed in by a Volkswagen Bug. Gamble and another teammate lifted the front end of the VW and moved it to allow the bus to move.

None of what Gamble accomplished in the ring or parking lot surprised Ball. “I’ve never worked with an athlete who had a better personality, that works hard and has more determination than (Gamble) has,” Ball said Gamble’s senior year. “If I had athletes like him every year I would never retire.” Gamble didn’t even catch on to the weight events until his sophomore year, when he started throwing the discus at 110-0. By the end of the year he threw 162’- 10 3/4, earning first-team All-Diablo Valley Athletic League honors.

After a solid junior year, which featured an Oakland Tribune Athlete of the Week award for winning the discus (159-11) against Pittsburg, Gamble broke loose as a senior.

He won the North Coast Sections Meet of Champions in the discus (177-11) and place second in the shot put (57-3), becoming one of the first Antioch athletes to qualify for State in two events. He advanced in trials in both events and took home a State medal by placing sixth in the shot put, while taking eighth in the discus.

Showing off his athletic prowess that year, he also long jumped 21-0 and high jumped 5-10, almost unheard of marks for a weights athlete. Gamble was the obvious choice as his team’s Most Valuable Player award. Though Gamble was disappointed with his finish in the State meet, Ball put it all into perspective:”There’s a lot of good discus throwers in California that didn’t make this meet,” he said. “You can’t take anything away from Jerry. He’s the best weight person I’ve ever worked with and I’ve worked with some good ones.”

After high school, Gamble took up the javelin and placed second at the State Junior College championships for DVC. He had a season best mark of 215-0.

Jerry Bertolani

Baseball

Antioch High School 1982

Some kids develop later. Some make the most of their opportunities. Some get that chance and run with it.

In the case of 1982 Antioch High graduate Jerry Bertolani, he ran, hit, fielded and threw, turning himself into one of the best baseball players the city has ever seen or developed.

The versatile shortstop is one of 13 Antioch High or Deer Valley high school players to reach at least the AA level of minor leagues or higher.

Bertolani joined fellow AHS standouts like Jeff Pico, Alex Sanchez and Doug Snyder in the 1980s and before that quartet, Ralph Holding (1950s) and Butch Rounsaville (1960s).

In the 1990s, the trio of Aaron Miles, Brian Oliver and Manuel Bermudez reached at least AA, followed by Daniel Denham and Taylor Stanton from Deer Valley 2000 to 2010. And later with Nick Pasquale and Taylor Creswell with a short stint in AA.

Few ever thought Bertolani would reach such a plateau.

“The classic late bloomer,” said his JV coach Leroy Murray. “He exceeded everyone’s expectations. He was just one of those guys you couldn’t tell him he couldn’t do it. He just got better and better and better.”

Considering Bertolani wasn’t called up to varsity until late into his junior season, his climb toward the major leagues was very impressive.

“The off season before his senior year he would be out until it got dark hitting and hitting,” Murray said. “He’d hit out there in the rain. There was a definitely reason he improved so much. The class and era he played in was very strong. There were a lot of really great athletes. But Jerry just wanted it.”

The proof was in the pudding or the bat in this case.

As a senior first baseman, he hit .406 and earned first-team All-League honors. “No one saw that coming,” Murray said. “But he turned himself into a heck of a hitter and a very good fielder too.”

Bertolani was just getting started.

At Los Medanos College, he earned first-team All-State honors after hitting .386 with 24 RBIs and 21 runs. He was selected Co-MVP of the team with fellow LMC teammate Steve Ochoa.