Long before Bill Ayer became a member of this Hall of Fame, he had his own page in the online bible of sports statistics: The College Football Sports Reference website. As a redshirt freshman at Cal in 1990, the linebacker picked up a kickoff and returned it 10 yards.
Bill went on to much bigger and better things as a Golden Bear after a tremendous multi-sport career at Antioch High. The 1989 grad had a splendid senior season for the Panthers. He was the team’s Most Valuable Player, was selected to play in the North-South Shrine Game, and was the No. 8 pick in the Cream of the Crop, the Contra Costa Times’ rankings of the top 20 recruits in the East Bay. “He was an outside linebacker, tall and lanky,” said Steve Sanchez, the Antioch football coach. “He was steady all the time.
Bill was also pretty good on a baseball diamond. As a senior, he was an All-Bay Valley Athletic League First Team member and was elected Second Team All-East Bay.
At Cal, Bill focused on football. He was recruited to Berkeley by Bruce Snyder, one of the most successful football coaches in Cal history. Bill redshirted in 1989, then lettered in his next four seasons. As a starting linebacker in 1990, Bill finished third on the Bears with 43 tackles, including 10 against Washington. Cal was 7-4-1 that season and beat Wyoming in the Copper Bowl for its first bowl win in 52 years.
Eventually, the Cal coaching staff switched Bill to the defensive line. By 1993, under second-year coach Keith Gilbertson, Bill was the best defensive lineman on a defensive front that included eventual first-round pick Regan Upshaw from arch-rival Pittsburg High. Bill had 45 tackles and won the Brick Muller award that goes annually to the best d-lineman on the Bears. He capped his career at Cal by playing in the 1993 Alamo Bowl, where Cal clobbered Iowa 37-3. The Bears were 3-0 in bowl games during Ayer’s career. In addition to the wins over Wyoming and Iowa, Cal clobbered Clemson 37-13 in the Citrus Bowl played on Jan. 1, 1992. It was the last time Cal has played in a New Year’s Day bowl.
Nathan Bingham may be soaking up the sun in Hawaii today, but, back in the day, at Antioch High School, he was basking in success on the Panthers’ wrestling team.
In 2004, he was a force to be reckoned with in the 142 pound weight class. The year before he finished second in the North Coast Section tournament at 137 pounds. One year later he won the NCS title at 142 and was headed to the California Interscholastic Federation (CIF) tournament for the second time. To make it to the CIF tournament you must be one of the top 33 wrestlers in your weight class.
Nathan won his first two matches, and then suffered a defeat. He fought back hard and finished 7th place in the CIF State tournament. Nathan stated, “That had been my goal, I wanted to place.”
He was a two-time California State Meet qualifier, placing seventh in his class his senior year. Nathan also was a Bay Valley Athletic League champion in his junior and senior years, after placing second in his sophomore.
In addition to finishing first in North Coast as a senior, and second as a junior, he was named one of the Contra Costa Times Top 50 male athletes of 2004.
Bingham hadn’t planned to wrestle. A friend recommended he tryout, since, as a freshman, he was too short for basketball. He decided to give it a go and was immediately hooked. “We got a new coach in my sophomore year and things took off,” he said. “Wrestling was making a resurgence.”
Even though Bingham wasn’t part of a championship team, the Panthers won the title the year after he graduated, he was “happy to be part of the run up to that resurgence, after a long drought.”
And, it ran in the family, his younger brother, Jacob, was also a wrestler who won a title. “He was a big guy, 189-pound division. We were always doing things together.”
After high school Bingham opted to head west to Hawaii where he attended BYU-Hawaii and started a small business when he was 19. Presently, his business is going strong and he’s looking forward to celebrating his 10th wedding anniversary with wife, Martina.
When Brent Casteel graduated from Antioch High in 2004 and enrolled at the University of Utah on a full football scholarship, the star running back thought he would be playing for coach Urban Meyer. But Meyer was gone to the Florida Gators before Brent’s redshirt year had ended.
Casteel would play for Kyle Whittingham, and had a great career for the Utes. Shouldn’t have come as a surprise, given the numbers he put up for Antioch. He had 932 yards rushing, 400 yards receiving and 17 touchdowns as a junior in 2002. He was a First-Team All-Contra Costa Times team member and top 50 athlete. Brent was injured for much of his senior year, but he still was selected to the Contra Costa Times’ Cream of the Crop at number 16 among the East Bay’s top 20 recruits. Also on the team was Brent’s teammate from Antioch, wide receiver Aaron Straiten, who signed with Utah but wound up at UNLV.
Brent continued to star at Utah. In his first two seasons, Brent was used as a running back, receiver and kickoff return man. His versatility paid off. In 2005, he caught 39 passes for 426 yards, rushed for 208 yards and had 20 kickoff returns for 464 yards. He was picked as an honorable mention freshman All-American by The Sporting News. The following year the redshirt sophomore caught 10 touchdowns, had 600 yards receiving and rushed for 262 yards. He was Second-Team All-Mountain West Conference.
He missed all but one game in 2007 because of an injury, but he more than made up for it as a senior. He was second on the Utes with 564 receiving yards and third on the team with 43 catches. He scored the game’s first touchdown in the Sugar Bowl against Alabama as Utah stormed to a 21-0 lead in the first quarter and rolled the Crimson Tide 31-17. Utah went 13-0 and finished ranked No. 2 in the country.
Brent signed with the Cleveland Browns after college but was cut before playing in a regular-season game.
Casteel only attended Antioch during his junior and senior years. He went to Jefferson High in Daly City as a freshman, then played football at Armijo-Fairfield the next year. He was a three-sport athlete at Antioch, also participating in basketball and track.
Greg DeCristofaro may not have competed in a swim meet, but he is nonetheless a swimming legend at Antioch High School.
Greg, or Coach De as he is better known, oversaw the AHS swim and diving programs from 1971 through 2007. He left such a lasting impression, that in 2018 the AHS pool was christened Greg DeCristofaro Aquatic Center.
Although Antioch may have lost its first meet under Greg, the Panthers did set a record for the 200-yard medley relay. Later 1978 team, led by diver Cisco Gonsalves, was rated among the best scoring in wins over Liberty and De La Salle. Also, Gonsalves set a new diving record of 203 points in six dives against Ygnacio Valley.
Greg said that although Antioch did not have many winning seasons, he persisted in giving it his all and was gratified to coach some amazing athletes. Among them swimmer Dennis Boyd (HOF 2008) and Community College All-America Shaun Bogan (HOF 2007).
Greg is proud of co-founding the Antioch Swimming Relays with Craig Carson (HOF 2015) that ran from 1982 to 2004, along with starting up the Independent Water Polo League. In 1992 he also initiated the women’s water polo team.
Aside from the AHS team, Greg coached Delta Skimmers for 15 of years. “I had two families, the Panthers and the Skimmers.”
While at AHS he received the North Coast Section Honor Coach Award in 2019 and coached the Panther Water Polo for the North Coast Water Polo Tournament in 1975.
On being selected for the Hall of Fame, Greg said, “It is a great honor and a bit overwhelming. I am just a coach, not a former Antioch athlete like so many other honorees such as Steve Sanchez, his records, speak for themselves.”
Greg is also a member of the sports Stockton Hall of Fame for his success as a diver. In 1968 he placed second in the three-meter event at the Amateur Athletic Union Indoor Junior Olympics. Greg’s father also is a Hall of Fame athlete, he added, “We were always trying to outdo him.”
Greg so loved the water that he, and his family, lived on a 52-foot houseboat for 19 years. He moved around from Bruno’s Island to Outrigger to the Antioch Marina.
Currently, Greg is retired and living in Northern California near Paradise. His house was untouched by the Camp Fire, but he continues to run a food bank for those in need.
La’Sha Hill’s Deer Valley High School shot put achievements are many. She was a 2-time first team All-League performer, 2-time NCS-III-A champion and 2-time 2nd place finisher at the North Coast Section Meet of Champions. The MOC placing qualified her for trips to the CIF State Track and Field Championship meet in both her junior and senior years. Her throw of 43’ 1 ¼” at MOC not only qualified for the State Meet but set a mark that only one other Deer Valley female thrower has bettered since 2002.
In her senior year after a 10th place finish at the High School State Meet, La’Sha became a “Lady Bulldog” after accepting a full ride scholarship offer from Cal State University, Fresno.
At Fresno State she would exemplify what it means to be a student athlete combining not only superb athletic skills but academic awards to match. She would start her career by being named the Fresno State’s Womens Track & Field’s Most Outstanding Freshman. That year she would set a mark of 46’ 11 ¾” which as of 2020 still remains the best ever throw by a freshman woman.
La’Sha was named the FSU Outstanding Field Event Performer in 2004 and received the Coaches Award in 2006. A 3-time NCAA Regional Qualifier with a career best throw of 49’ 4 ¼ “ranks her 6th All-Time in Fresno State history. Not to be forgotten is her discus PR of 158’ 2”
La’Sha didn’t just shine on the track but in the classroom as well. She was on the FSU Dean’s List was named All-Academic Western Athletic Conference and Fresno State Scholar Athlete multiple times during her career at FSU. We tip our hat to La’Sha Hill and congratulate her on exemplifying what it means to be an outstanding student athlete.
In track and field Jeff Juhala was a “jack of all trades”. For most of his Antioch High School career he would compete in 3 and sometimes 4 events in every meet. However he really shined in one event, the pole vault. Brand new to the event as a sophomore he would go on to record the second highest AHS vault ever at 15’ 1 ½” achieved at the 1986 Stapleton Relays. On the way to that mark he would become an Oakland Tribune Athlete of the Week, a 2-time First Team All-DVAL Champion and would twice place 3rd in the North Coast Meet of Champions earning him 2 trips to the California State Track and Field Championships.
After graduation Jeff attended Diablo Valley College and as a freshman improved his vault mark to 15’ 7“ while adding the javelin and the decathlon. At the end of that season, he would be the Golden Gate Conference pole vault and Javelin champion and place 8th among decathletes statewide. As a sophomore he would be undefeated in both the pole vault and javelin in league competition and Golden Gate Conference champion in both events. He finished 1st in the Nor Cal Championships in the vault and was 2nd at the Junior College State Meet achieving along the way school records and personal bests of 16’ 3 ¾” in the pole vault and 194’ 9” in the javelin. His DVC vault record still stands more than 30 years later. In 2011 Jeff would be elected into the prestigious DVC Sports Hall of Fame.
His DVC marks earned him a scholarship to Liberty University in Virginia where, as team captain, he would go on to win the Southern Conference pole vault title and set school indoor and outdoor records of 16’ ½” and 16’ 6”.
In 2003, when Eric King was in his second season as an All-Conference shortstop at LMC, an assistant coach named Fred Corral from Sacramento City College was closely watching him play. Eric could do it all: excellent hitter, magnificent defense. He had four-year college offers from some of the premier west coast programs, including USC, Arizona, and Long Beach State. Corral wasn’t going to be deterred. He had accepted a new job as an assistant at the University of Tennessee, and he wanted Eric to join him. “Tennessee was my first recruiting trip,” Eric recalled. “I never went on another.”
The 2001 graduate from Deer Valley High was a star on the diamond in East County and in the Southeast Conference. At Deer Valley, he was First Team All-BVAL as a junior and senior. He was a four-year starter for the Wolverines. He led them to league titles in 1999 and 2001. In his senior year he had 19 RBI’s, 16 stolen bases, and batted .434, a school record.
Eric was even better at Los Medanos. He was a two-time community college All-American. He set Mustang’s single-season records for batting average (.449), hits (88), and longest hitting streak (28 games).
At Tennessee, Eric started all but one of the 129 games the Volunteers played during his two years at the school. His first season in 2004 was a preview of what was to come. He played sterling defense at second base and struck out only 13 times, fewest among the regulars. As a senior, Eric improved his batting average by 56 points to .332, and once again had the fewest strikeouts among the starters.
Having been switched to shortstop in the off-season, he led in assists by a wide margin with 205. The 2005 Tennessee Vols achieved their goal of going to the College World Series, only the fourth time in school history. Eric was ready to shine and batted a whopping .667 before the Vols were eliminated by Arizona State. It wasn’t until 2021 that the Vol’s got back.
Eric’s next stop was the minor leagues. He was the 2005 13th-round draft choice of the Houston Astros. King’s best season was his first. Back at second base, he hit .305 with the Tri-City Valley Cats of the Single-A New York-Penn League, and he made the all-star team. Eric continued to play in the Astros farm system for two more years, retiring after the 2007 season.
As a youth, Kerry Lewis was more at home on a soccer field, or in a swimming pool, than on a volleyball court. Growing up she was a member of both the Delta Youth Soccer League and the Delta Skimmers, but that all changed when she picked up a volleyball at Park Junior High.
She went on to play for the Antioch High School Panthers, where she was welcomed to the varsity as a sophomore. During her stint at Antioch, Kerry was First Team All-BVAL for her junior and senior years as well as team MVP. She also was key in the team improving its win-loss record to a second-place finish in the BVAL by her senior year.
Although Kerry enjoyed her time playing volleyball, in high school, she admitted that basketball was her love. She remained a three-sport athlete, also participating in basketball and track, and earned a most improved award for basketball. It was only in her senior year that she dropped the two to concentrate on volleyball, after learning college recruiters were interested in her.
Kerry is tall, 5-feet, 11.5 inches, which might have been the reason she was first approached in junior high. She indicated that height gave her an advantage for blocking and hitting.
“It just came naturally to me,” Kerry said, “but I was a terrible server in my first year. I served underhanded.” That may be why she started out as a setter.
“I’ve had amazing teammates,” Kerry said. “It made playing more fun and competitive. I learned a lot from Rachel Manning (ASL-HOF 2008), who was a senior setter. She was supportive.” Teammates Kris Gravelle (ASL-HOF 2017), and Stacy Johnson (ASL-HOF 2014), were also mentioned.
Paving the way, Kerry was the first East County volleyball player to earn a college scholarship. After receiving four offers, she committed to Sacramento State where she started for all four years. Importantly, playing close to home allowed her parents to attend her games. It paid off, Kerry, as a freshman, was named the MVP. Here, too, she reunited with Rachel, who was also a setter.
While attending, she was voted both Most Improved and Most Inspirational. Kerry finished in Sac’s Top 10: No. 5 in 7 kill hits (.846); No. 8 in hitting percentage (.355) and top volleyball player in 1993 and 1995.
Also, the team was invited to play in postseason tournaments where she set a Sac State record hitting percentage record of .846, which was later broken.
Kerry graduated in 1995 Cum Laude with a Bachelor of Arts in Humanities and in 2000 with a Bachelor of Science in Biological Sciences.
Following college Kerry played some club volleyball but now, re-located to Texas, she is busy raising her family. In the future, Kerry hopes to return to environmental education.
Jim “Jimbo” Magana is much more than an Antioch Sports Legend. He is really an East County Sports Legend who spent five decades playing, coaching, and teaching in this part of Contra Costa County. He retired from coaching in 2019.
Jimbo was a star receiver at Antioch High, then a football MVP and Athlete of the Year at Los Medanos College before moving on to Cal State Hayward. In two seasons with the Pioneers, he set several school receiving records, and earned recognition as a two-time All-Far Western Conference First Team player and Honorable Mention Small College All-American.
Jimbo was a reserve running back at Antioch when the coaching staff realized at 5’ 8” 155 pounds he could be a fine receiver. “He could really catch the ball,” said LeRoy Murray (ASL-HOF 2013), one of the coaches on Marv Comstock’s (ASL-HOF 2009) staff. “When it was third down, we’d send him in.”
Jimbo remembers those days. “I’d run a little sprint route, catch the pass, get the first down, and wait for the next third down to come back into the game.” Eventually, Jimbo was playing a lot more than just on third down. By his senior year in 1972, he developed into a Second Team All-Diablo Valley Athletic League receiver. The Panthers went 8-3, tied Ygnacio Valley for the DVAL title, and beat Miramonte in the Turkey Bowl. There were no section or state playoffs at that time.
Before starting college ball, Jimbo was selected as the punt returner for the Contra Costa Team in the Pre-College All-Star Football Classic against the Alameda All-Stars. Joining Jimbo, was Stanford bound John Olenchalk (ASL-HOF 2008).
Diablo Valley College was Jimbo’s next stop, but he transferred when LMC opened its doors in 1974. What a year he had for the new school, capturing First Team All-Conference in addition to being team MVP and the school’s Athlete of the Year. He was also in LMC’s first graduating class.
Then it was on to a record-setting career at Cal State Hayward. Jimbo was selected First Team Far Western Conference his junior and senior years. He set a school mark with 14 catches in a game, and then tied it later in his career (1975-76). Another mark was his 60 catches for 717 yards as senior and 117 receptions for 1,342 yards in two years. Going into his senior year, he was the Top Returning Receiver in Division II and garnered Small College All-American Honorable Mention First Team.
Joining in Magana’s last year of eligibility at Cal State were former Panthers quarterback Steve LeRoy, running back Norm Machado, Kevin Mouser, and Greg Spohn.
Post college, Jimbo played on the Antioch Hornet Semi-Pro Team’s inaugural 1980 season and retired due to an injury the following year.
A couple of years after graduating from Hayward State, Magana found his way back to East County and spent the next 37 years in the classroom and on the field. His first coaching job was at Antioch, and then he spent a short time at LMC before heading back to the Panthers. From there he joined the coaching staff at Deer Valley when it opened in 1996. Stints at Freedom and Liberty followed. He coached the corner backs when Liberty beat Sierra Canyon for a CIF state football title in 2018.
Don Mayjoffo began a 50 year celebrated and distinguished career in assisting the youth of Antioch in 1969 as a Little League coach and administrator. He led his Buccaneers to 7 league titles and twice coached Antioch All-Star teams to Division 4 championships. He served as a member of the Board of Directors of Antioch Little League for 50 years, serving both Antioch East and West. He coached Seaton Trucking in Babe Ruth Baseball for 5 years. Don also coached in the Junior Football League with the Turner Falcons and soccer in the Antioch Youth Soccer League.
He assisted in building Rademacher, Martin and Fenolio baseball fields in addition to those at the Fairgrounds. In 1979 he started the Antioch East and West Softball Programs.
Don’s reach in helping young athletes extended far beyond the city limits of Antioch as he represented Little League District 4 (comprising most of Contra Costa County) for 14 years as an administrator and on three separate occasions was the district’s representative to the Little League World Congress. In 2008 he was presented the prestigious Carlos Camacho Award by District 4 for over 40 years of outstanding service, guidance and leadership. Later in 2017 he was presented with the Ernie Lewis Award symbolizing a Lifetime Achievement award for his service to District 4 and the Antioch Little League. In 2019 Don was presented a Lifetime Achievement Award by Antioch Little League for his vast contributions and service.
Don touched the lives of thousands of youth in Antioch covering over six decades. The skills and lessons he taught was instilled in all his athletes and paved the way to great life success for many that he touched.