Four athletes whose graduating years span 38 years, from 1964 to 2002, have been elected to the Napa High School Athletic Hall of Fame and will be honored at a dinner and induction ceremony this fall, selection committee chairman Duey Green announced Sunday.
Don McConnell (Class of 1964), Bill Merrell (Class of 1982), Brent Farris (Class of 1991) and Michael Yanover (Class of 2002) were selected by a committee for the Hall of Fame, which is now in its 22nd year.
“This class of four that is going in this year, it’s an outstanding class,” said Green, who is the vice president and a member of the board of directors.
The Hall of Fame’s selection committee votes on the nominees after reviewing the nominations and hearing presentations by nominators. A successful nominee needs 75 percent of the total points possible.
Individuals may be nominated in one of three categories for the Hall of Fame: athlete, coach and special.
To date, there are 143 members of the Hall of Fame, whose membership dates to 1912. The NHS Athletic HOF Foundation is a nonprofit organization.
In 1997, the Hall of Fame was formed, with 36 inductees in the inaugural class.
The purpose of the NHS Athletic HOF Foundation is to honor the school and its athletics department by recognizing the achievements of former athletes, coaches and others who have made significant contributions to the school’s athletic programs.
To be eligible as an athlete, an individual must have graduated from Napa High at least 15 years ago (2003 or earlier).
The Hall of Fame has awarded $90,000 in scholarships to student-athletes over the years. The scholarships are funded by contributions.
This year’s Hall of Fame class will be honored between Napa’s junior varsity and varsity football games on Oct. 12 against Casa Grande-Petaluma at Napa Memorial Stadium.
A dinner and enshrinement ceremony is the following night, Oct. 13, at Embassy Suites Napa Valley. A social hour begins at 5:30 p.m. and is followed by dinner at 7 p.m.
A look at this year’s Hall of Fame class:
* Don McConnell: McConnell was a starter and the leading scorer on the 1962-63 and 1963-64 basketball teams for Napa, and as a senior led Napa to the North Bay League title and was selected to the All-NBL team. Napa was invited to the Tournament of Champions in Oakland.
“It was pretty outstanding for a team from Napa to get into that Tournament of Champions,” said Green. “To go out and watch Napa play basketball back in ’64 was pretty exciting. Just outstanding, fun to watch. They filled the gyms back then.
“At the time, Napa only had one high school. To be a starter on that team from all the kids that grew up in Napa, really speaks a lot for how good Don was and also how he helped that team go so far.”
McConnell played basketball on a scholarship at San Jose State from 1964-68. He was a starter and co-captain.
He played for the U.S. Navy Sub-Pacific basketball team from 1969-1971 and was selected for the All-Navy team for both seasons.
McConnell is on the NHS HOF Foundation’s board of directors, and has served as president and selection committee chairman.
* Bill Merrell: Merrell wrestled for three years for Napa.
As a sophomore, he had a 22-4 record and won the Monticello Empire League title at 157 pounds.
He finished fourth at the CIF State Meet as a junior, a season in which he won MEL and Northwest Sac-Joaquin Sub-Section titles, and was third at the Sac-Joaquin tournament.
Merrell placed fifth at the state meet as a senior. He had a 44-2 record with 33 pins and won MEL, Sub-Section and Section titles.
He received a wrestling scholarship to Cal Poly-San Luis Obispo and also wrestled in college for Diablo Valley College-Pleasant Hill, the University of Nebraska and Chico State.
* Brent Farris: Farris was all-everything in basketball for Napa – All-State, All-Sac-Joaquin Section, All-Superior California, All-MEL and All-Napa County.
He was honored as the MEL and Napa County Athlete of the Year.
Farris went on to play basketball at Napa Valley College and Saint Mary’s College. He was named to the All-West Coast Conference team for Saint Mary’s.
Despite a brush with the law, in 1992, Farris was accepted to Saint Mary’s, as then-Gaels coach Ernie Kent believed in him and gave him an opportunity to play in an NCAA-Division I program.
“Ernie told me if his team had seven or eight Brent Farris’ those couple of years that he played there, they would have walked into that NCAA Tournament with their heads held high and would have done real well,” said Green.
“He has nothing but admiration for Brent, his work ethic, and just everything about Brent was just outstanding in Ernie’s eyes.”
* Michael Yanover: Yanover was a four-sport athlete for Napa, playing soccer, football, basketball and baseball.
He was the All-Napa County Player of the Year as a junior in soccer.
He had a tremendous senior year, receiving MEL MVP and All-County Player of the Year honors in soccer as team captain, All-County kicker for football, All-MEL, All-County and team MVP as team captain in basketball, and All-County in baseball as team captain.
Hall of Fame
The board of directors consists of Tom LeMasters, president; Green, vice president and selection committee chairman; Carol Stein, secretary/treasurer; Marshall Jaeger, Don McConnell, Bill Carden, Terry Simpkins and Bob Zanardi.
The Hall of Fame’s website is napahighhof.org.