It’s hard to think of high school Girls Volleyball in the City of Antioch without the name Abernathy jumping to the very top. It could possibly mean Antioch Sports Legends Inductee Gabrielle who set volleyball records at Deer Valley High many thought unattainable for future athletes or this year’s Inductee, her younger sister, Jennifer who took her sisters lead and went on to write her own amazing record book story both at Deer Valley and the University of Arizona. Coached by Lou Panzella, this year’s Inductee in the category of Outstanding Coach, Jennifer would go on to become one of the elite women athletes ever to come out of Antioch.
Jennifer is what we at Sports Legends call the very “Best of the Best”. Her spectacular high school career included being named Contra Costa Times Female Athlete of the Year, not once but twice. She was named to the 2nd Team All-State Volleyball Team by CalHigh Sports as a Senior and was a member of the United States Junior Volleyball Team after her Junior year at Deer Valley. Jennifer was the Contra Costa Times Volleyball player of the Year and followed that by being named the BVAL’s Most Valuable Player her senior season. She was a 3-time 1st Team All-BVAL selection and was honored her junior and senior years by being named Deer Valley’s Female Athlete of the Year.
Her high school accomplishments earned her a full ride scholarship to the University of Arizona where today she still ranks as one of the Top-10 volleyball players of all-time on the Wildcat record list in 7 different categories. Jennifer was a 4-time letter winner at U of A and Pac-10 Player of the Week her Sophomore, Junior and Senior seasons. On top of that she was named National Player of the Week during her sophomore season. During her Senior season Jennifer was awarded national honors being named 3rd-Team All-American by the American Volleyball Coaches Association. She capped off her senior season by being named 1st Team All-Pac 10.
Jennifer played two years of professional volleyball for Aguadilla in Puerto Rico and one year for Piacenza, Italy
A three sport star at Antioch High, Rebecca Beal wrote one of the most outstanding careers in the pool during her prep career. Beal played basketball for three years, before sitting out her senior season to focus on water polo and swimming.
In the pool Beal was amazing as part of the inaugural girls water polo team at AHS in her junior year. She followed that up with an amazing senior season where she scored a spectacular 94 goals in leading her Panther teammates to tournament victories at Novate and Pinole on the way to an undefeated 25-0 season and a North Coast Section Championship. Rebecca was named Athlete of the Week by the Contra Costa Times, 1st team All-BVAL and capped the year by being named 2nd Team All-American by the National Interscholastic Swimming Coaches of America.
Rebecca was a four year letter winner in swimming culminating her career with team MVP honors in 1994. She was the BVAL champion in the 100 meter breaststroke, while setting a school record and participated in three consecutive North Coast Section championships finishing 5th in 1994. Beal excelled in the classroom as well being named a Scholar-Athlete for four consecutive years.
After graduation Rebecca enrolled at San Diego State on a partial swimming and water polo scholarship, extending that to a full ride scholarship after her sophomore season. Beal was a four year letter winner in water polo leading the Aztec women to four consecutive post season appearances that resulted in a 2nd Place finish in 1995, third place finishes in 96-97 and a seventh place finish in 1998 at the NCAA Championships. She was also named All-Western Athletic Conference Scholar Athlete.
She was also a four year letter winner in swimming as well, as she capped her career as a finalist in the 100 meter breastroke at the Western Athletic Conference Championships. At the time of her graduation from SDSU, Rebecca was ranked in the top three All-Time performances in three separate swimming events .
A 1943 graduate of Antioch High, Jim Boccio learned his leadership qualities under legendary AHS football coach and 2007 Sports Legends Hall of Famer, Jack Danilovich. Under Danilovich, Jim was a standout two way player. He culminated his senior season by being named team MVP. After graduation he served in the U.S. Navy from 1943-46. He returned to Antioch and met his wife to be, Phyllis and they were married in 1949 and raised four children. Jim worked with Fibreboard and Dupont from 1949-1986 when he retired.
During his work career and after Jim served as a community leader in so many ways. He was Commodore of the Antioch Water Sports Club, President of AHS Parents Club, President of the Holy Rosary Church Dad’s Club, Chairman of the Antioch Drug Council (later known as the REACH Project), Chairman of the Cannery Lady Statue Committee and Board Member of the Bedford Center and St. Vincent de Paul programs for the needy.
Jim also served five terms as President of the Antioch Historical Society, being an instrumental part of the development and implementation of the Antioch Historical Society Museum. He has logged thousands and thousands of hours as a volunteer and “fix-it man” at the museum. In 2005, he along with Tom Menasco, Eddie Beaudin, 2008 Sports Legends Inductee Leo Fontana, and Dave Sanderson co-founded the Antioch Sports Legends. Jim has volunteered endless hours in getting Sports Legends off the ground and maintaining its excellence throughout the years.
Jim has received the Bedford Center Recognition Award for many years of unlimited service as well as, in 2017, being honored with a Lifetime Achievement Award by the Antioch Chamber of Commerce. Jim is the patriarch to the first three generation family of Sports Legends, joining his son Jim, Jr. (2009) and grandson Brian (2017) as inductees. Jim and Phyllis celebrated their 69th anniversary this past February. In addition to their four children, they have nine grandchildren, 15 great grandchildren and three great, great grandchildren.
Chris Hernandez burst onto the Antioch running scene in the Fall of 1996 earning first team BVAL honors in cross country. He followed that up with an outstanding fifth place finish at the NCS Championships, earning him a spot on the NCS first team and a berth in the California State Meet, becoming the first sophomore boy to accomplish that feat in Antioch history. He was named Ledger-Dispatch Athlete of the Week and completed the season being named team Most Valuable Runner.
Chris followed that with a spectacular junior season, again earning first team all-BVAL and finished second at the NCS Championships to post another first team NCS selection and advance to a second consecutive California State Meet. Hernandez finished in a very respectful 55th place at state and was again voted the most valuable Panther harrier. That year Chris was named one of the top 50 Male Athletes by the Contra Costa Times.
Hernandez did not slow down his senior year as he became a three time first team all-BVAL selection and named to a third consecutive NCS first team with a third place finish that catapulted AHS to the team NCS Championship. Hernandez led his team to the State Meet where he placed 35th individually, with a very spectacular time of 16:11 over 5,000 meters on the hilly Woodward Park course in Fresno. Chris is the only AHS cross country runner to ever to qualify and run in three consecutive state meets.
Upon graduating from Antioch High in 1999 Chris attended Diablo Valley College and ran cross country. He led the Vikings his freshman year with a second place finish at the conference meet. He followed that up the next week again finishing runner-up at the NorCal regionals that qualified him for the California Community College State meet where he wrapped up his running career with a top 5 finish.
When one thinks of combining athletics and academics there is no better example of this than Eric Johnson, Antioch High School’s 1999 Athlete of the Year and Class Valedictorian.
Eric’s high school athletic accomplishments are many. He was a 2-time 1st Team All-BVAL award winner in football and set the Antioch High school record for the longest field goal ever at 53 yards with 21 of his 35 kickoffs going for touchbacks. In his senior year he had field goals of 53, 48, 47 & 45 yards. In addition he handled the punting duties for the Panthers averaging 43.2 yards per punt.
Eric’s kicking skills were recognized well beyond the local level. He was named #11 on the Contra Costa Times Football “Cream of the Crop” list in 1999. Super Prep Magazine named him to their All-West Region Football Team and the Contra Costa Times and the San Francisco Examiner named him to the All-Area Team. His high school awards only got better as he was named by CalHigh Sports to the State of California Football All-State 2nd team after his senior season.
Eric also played golf and soccer at AHS. In golf he was 4 time 1st team All-BVAL, 3 time MVP and captain of the 1998 BVAL championship team,
Eric’s academic and athletic skills led him to Stanford University where he earned a full ride athletic scholarship for football. He was a 3-year starting punter for the Cardinal and averaged 42.9 yards per kick his senior year. In 2003 he was named to the 2nd-Team All- Pac 10 Team and was voted Stanford University’s Football Special Teams MVP. Eric was a member of the 1999 Rose Bowl and 2001 Seattle Bowl Teams. In 2004 he signed a free agent contract with the Tennessee Titans and played in 3 preseason games.
While at Stanford Eric also lettered in Golf in 2003 and 2004. In 2004 he was named the recipient of the “Traditions” Award which is awarded annually to the player who exhibits leadership, strong work ethic, academic excellence and understanding of the traditions of Stanford University and Stanford men’s golf.
Dan Kaleialii was one of Antioch High’s most dominant two-way lineman in the history of the school. As an offense tackle he was a tremendous blocker that paved the way for the vaunted Panther running game. On defense he used his exceptional quickness to cause havoc for opposing offenses, often times drawing double and triple teams to try to stop him. At 5-11, 215 lbs. he was not big but was blessed with great explosiveness and the desire to excel on both sides of the line of scrimmage.
In 1980, as a junior, Dan was voted 1st Team All-DVAL as an offensive lineman. He was also voted 1st Team All-DVAL as a defensive lineman. That season was just a prelude to what he would do in his senior season of 1981. In one of the most decorated seasons for a lineman at AHS, Kaleialii was recognized again as All-DVAL 1st team selection on both the offensive and defensive line. Dan was also All-East Bay 1st Team as an offensive lineman and was selected to the All-Northern California 1st Team as an offensive lineman
Dan was the recipient of the Gino Marchetti Award for Most Outstanding Lineman as a senior at Antioch High and was voted captain of his 1981 football team. Kaleialii was selected to the Contra Costa-Alameda County All Star game following his senior year. He was also a standout in the classroom as he was a recipient of the National Foundation and Hall of Fame award for his scholar-athlete accomplishments.
After high school Dan attended Los Medanos College where he continued his prowess on the girdiron and was selected on the All-Coast 1st Team at Defensive Tackle and All-Camino Norte Conference 1st Team Defensive Tackle. Injuries ended his playing career as Dan transferred from LMC to UC Berkeley, where he earned his degree. In late 1989 Dan was selected to the Antioch Ledger’s 1980’s All-Decade Team for football as a defensive lineman.
A three sport athlete at Deer Valley High, Lindsay Lopez made the basketball court her domain. Lopez completed an amazing three year varsity career with a spectacular senior season. She led the entire region in scoring with a 24.7 points per game average added to 6.5 rebounds per game in leading the Wolverines. She was a two-time team MVP and two-time first team ALL-BVAL selection. Lopez received league MVP honors, first team All-Metro by the San Francisco Chronicle, Top 100 athletes by the Contra Costa Times, Cal High Sports/Power Bar Player of the Week and the United States Army Outstanding Scholar Athlete. Lindsay ended her Deer Valley career with a school record 1,524 points, which still stands. She was the top ranked tennis player at DVHS and third in the BVAL her senior year when she was crowned Most Outstanding Female Athlete at Deer Valley. Lopez received a scholarship to St. Mary’s College in Moraga.
Lindsay played all four years and excelled at St. Mary’s. She was named team captain her junior and senior seasons. Lopez capped off her collegiate career by being named to the West Coast Conference All Academic Team, with the second highest GPA in the conference (3.89). She graduated Summa Cum Laude with a bachelor’s degree and later went on to receive her master’s degree in Kinesiology.
She returned to her alma mater and coached basketball for five years winning the BVAL every year and advancing to the Nor Cal State Tournament three times. She later coached at Las Positas College for three years. Lindsay is now the Principal at Antioch Middle School. She and her husband, Nick Wisely have two children Kylie and Ryan.
Mark commenced a brilliant golfing career spanning over 50 years by leading his Panther teammates to a league championship in his sophmore season. He took 2nd in the league championships his senior year at AHS in 1969, where he was named team MVP. He continued his dominance on the links by being named team MVP for Diablo Valley College in 1970 and was the Most Valuable Golfer at the University of Pacific in both 1971 and ’72.
Since graduation, Mark has been one of the most decorated amateur golfers locally and in all of Northern California. Over that period of time Miller has won five Antioch City Championship titles, has been named Northern California Golf Association (NCGA), Senior Player of the year three different times, and in 2017 was named the NCGA Super Senior Player of the Year. In addition to winning over 30 titles in NCGA minor points events he also captured titles at the very prestigious San Francisco City Championships, the Alameda Commuters Tournament and the California State Fair Tourney.
He has played on numerous NCGA cup teams where he compiled an outstanding 7-3 record in match play. Mark was one of six players to represent Northern California in the State Championships where they vied against Southern California’s top six amateurs including an amazing teenager by the name of Tiger Woods. He also won the NCGA Senior Fourball championship three separate times with different partners each time.
Miller did not keep his dominance limited to just Northern California but, also on the national stage. Mark actively entered United States Golf Association (USGA) tournaments over the years and won the national field Golf Week Senior Amateur by four shots in 2008 as well as being crowned champion at the highly touted Trans-Mississippi national event. He played in four U.S. mid-amateurs in a six year stretch and was a medalist qualifier twice. He was also a medalist qualifier at the U.S Senior Amateur that vaulted him into match play.
Chris Munoz became an athlete to watch at Antioch High School when he surprised people by becoming a starting defensive back on the varsity football team as a 10th grader. But unlike many athletes that specialize in one sport Chris wanted to play them all. He went on to star not only in football but basketball and baseball as well. Over his three year varsity career, Chris would earn 8 varsity letters in the three sports and play on 6 DVAL championship teams. He was 1st string in football all three years, 1st string in basketball his junior and senior seasons and 1st string in baseball as a senior.
Chris began to get recognized beyond Antioch High School his junior year when he was named to the 2nd Team All-DVAL football team. As a senior in 1985 the Panther Team Captain was voted to the 1st Team All-DVAL football squad and followed that up by being named to the 2nd Team All-East Bay Football Team. He was chosen to play in the Contra Costa/Alameda All-Star Football game and the San Francisco Examiner named him Honorable Mention on the Examiner All-Star Football Team. His coaches recognized his efforts that year by presenting him with “The Hardest Hitter of the Year” award. In addition he was awarded the Lesher Sports Award for football.
In basketball Chris’s leadership shown through again as he was named Team Captain for the Panthers and in a 1984 holiday tournament was named to the Stonebarger Basketball All-Tournament Team.
After basketball it was on to baseball where Chris continued to hone his skills and was rewarded by the league coaches naming him 1st Team All-League. His AHS coaches recognized his improvement and commitment by presenting him the Antioch High School “Most Improved” baseball player award.
After high school Chris continued to play both football and baseball at LMC where he was a starting defensive back and second baseman. He transferred to San Diego State where he received his degree in Physical Therapy. Today Chris helps both young and aging athletes recover from injury as a physical therapist at Antioch Physical Therapy.
It’s not very often one can use the term “The Greatest” but in Janie Nolan’s case it is absolutely true. Since high school girls Cross Country became a sport over 40 years ago, she remains the city of Antioch’s greatest female XC runner ever. Coached by Mike Amorosa, Janie literally burst on to the XC scene. As a ninth grader she was the 3rd fastest freshman in the Division 1 State Meet and was 1st Team All-North Coast Section, qualifying for her first State Meet where she finished as the 3rd fastest freshman runner in the State of California in the Division 1 race and the 4th fastest NCS runner regardless of grade. Janie capped off her Track season by setting a school record in the 3200 meters with a time of 10:51.15, breaking Sports Legends Hall of Fame Inductee, Shane Felix’s school record by nearly 20 seconds.
As a sophomore in 1999 she would only get better winning her first league title and being named 1st Team All-North Coast Section for the second year after leading her team to the BVAL and NCS Titles. However, the best was yet to come. In the California State Meet she finished 2nd overall and led her team to a 3rd place finish in the Division II race. This is 2nd highest placing ever for an Antioch High School team in head-to-head competition, surpassed only by the 1988 Sports Legends Hall of Fame wrestling team.
Near the end of her sophomore season Janie was dealt a serious setback, contracting mononucleosis which carried over into her junior cross-country season. Despite this hurdle, Janie overcame the obstacle and though not 100% won her second league title and her third 1st Team Al l-North Coast Section award. She would help her team qualify for the State Meet and would go on to finish 1st for her team and 15th overall in the championship race. Janie also qualified for the State Track Meet as a freshman, sophomore and junior, was named to the CC Times top 50 female athletes list all three years and was AHS’s 2002 valedictorian.