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Vintage High School Athletic Hall of Fame

Vintage High School Athletic Hall of Fame: Stories of Crushers' nine new inductees

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Vintage High sports are strong across the board these days and one reason is that many of the school’s coaches have ties to the school’s greatest athletes and coaches from its storied past.

Six of those athletes and two coaches will be honored, along with the man who helped publicize their accomplishments via the airwaves, at halftime of the varsity football team’s home game Friday night against Cardinal Newman.

The nine will be inducted into the Vintage High School Athletic Hall of Fame on Saturday at the Napa Elks Lodge on Saturday. After a cocktail hour from 5 to 6 p.m. and a champagne toast at 6 p.m., dinner will be served at 6:30 p.m. with the induction ceremony starting at 6:45 p.m.

Here is some information on each inductee, as provided by Vintage Athletic Director Cam Neal.

Roger Gunn, Class of 1980

Gunn played only one sport at Vintage, golf, but he played it very, very well.

“I wasn’t able to make the starting team as a sophomore, but earned my way onto the starting team as a junior. The team was so good that I was inspired to practice and play so that I could make the team.,” he said.

“Ultimately, my teammates, mainly Bert Buehler and Dale Riley, were players I could watch and hope to play straight up with some day. I was lucky enough to do so. When I was a senior, and team captain, we won the California state championship at Pebble Beach.”

He calls Buehler one of his most influential people, along with coaches Dan Pineretta, Joe Marelich and Jim Hardy.

Gunn went on to start for UCLA and make the All-Pac-10 Conference First Team, and also played professional golf around the world for a number of years. A member of the Southern California PGA Teaching Hall of Fame, he’s now a golf instructor at the Golf Development Complex in Moorpark.

“My time at Vintage was a foundation for my golf for years to come,” he said, “certainly some of the best times of my life.”

Jennifer (Clifton) Washington, Class of 1991

The three-sport athlete was voted Vintage’s Female Senior Athlete of the Year and Napa Valley Female Athlete of the Year in 1990-91.

She was All-County and All-Monticello Empire League in volleyball as a junior and senior after helping the Crushers win MEL titles both years. She was All-County for three seasons in basketball and all-league for her last two. In softball, she was All-County and All-MEL her last two seasons and helped the Crushers win the 1991 league title.

“I was fortunate to be part of the Vintage High Softball team that was rated No. 1 in the state during the 1991 season,” she recalled. “My basketball coach, Dan King, once wrote about me, ‘She was one of the most coachable kids I ever had. She did everything I asked of her and was well-liked by her teammates and respected by her opponents.’ These words captured what I tried to be in high school — a great teammate, coachable, and respected as a competitor.

“My inspiration and drive to compete was that I loved sports, loved winning, and hated losing. I enjoyed every moment of my experiences and always wanted to do better for my coaches. My teammates were such close friends and I loved to see all of us succeed.”

Washington considers the most influential people in her sports career to be all the coaches who helped her during her four years at Vintage.

“Coach Norma Hill coached me in volleyball and softball and constantly encouraged me to do my best,” she said of the 2017 Coach inductee. “She paid attention to me not just as an athlete, but as a person. She nicknamed me ‘Permagrin’ because I would just keep smiling throughout the practices and games, no matter the circumstances. Basketball coaches (Bob) Soper and King saw potential in me early on, believed in me, and as a result, I believed in myself.”

Washington starred in volleyball at Sonoma State and was inducted into the SSU Athletic Hall of Fame in 2011. She was presented by then-SSU head coach Kelly Van Winden, who has since coached at Napa Valley College and Napa High.

“After college graduation, I tried the business world, but it just didn’t work out,” Washington recalled. “So I went to the police academy at Napa Valley College and ended with a career I love. Being a police officer was incredibly fulfilling. Now my full-time job is being a mom to three wonderful children.

“Playing sports taught me to never give up and pursue goals until they’re achieved. I learned discipline, endurance, and the importance of hard work. I also learned the importance of having a great team, and that is what I have with my family and friends in current times.”

Ira C. Smith, Special Category

Known as “The Voice of the Valley,” the sports director for KVON (1440 AM) and KVYN (99.3 FM) is in his 47th year of calling games on the radio in the Napa Valley.

“I can’t think of a better way to spend my professional time,” Smith said. “The athletes, the schools, the coaches, and everyone else involved work hard to play their best and I enjoy bringing the action to life.”

Asked what his most memorable moments have been, Smith said “Way too many games to even try to pick a few. But beyond the games, I have truly enjoyed working with wonderful people such as Kent Fry, interviewing devoted coaches and school staff and calling games at Memorial Stadium, the new one and the old one.”

Smith was also the arena announcer for the Sacramento Kings from 2000 to 2007 and has done voice-over work for the NBA 2k2 video game.

The Indiana native summed up his notable accomplishments since 1975 as “calling some of the greatest games the Napa Valley has ever seen. There have been some great wins and some tough losses and I enjoyed trying to bring those moments to life for the listeners.”

Glen Loban, Class of 1975

Vintage had only grades 10-12 when Loban attended and he played football and competed in track and field all three years, getting named Senior Male Athlete of the Year.

He was named Player of the Week five times in football. He was a team captain as a senior and earned an All-City Defense award.

In track, Loban helped the Crushers win the MEL title while also a team captain.

“My inspiration for playing football came from my father, who inspired me from his own football and track career,” he said. “I was influenced by several coaches, especially Coach Bill Williams (in track) and Coach Burl Autry and coaches Jim and Les Franco (in football). These coaches taught me how to work hard on and off the field. Their life lessons have stuck with me to this day.”

After high school, Loban played college football and rugby. He also coached the Razorbacks, a semi-pro football team, for several years.

He married his high school sweetheart, Missy, and they raised three daughters who also played sports at Vintage.

“I continued to coach sports over the years, but now just enjoy watching my grandkids play their sports,” he said. “I have been very successful in running several businesses and am always looking for new ways to give back to this community, where I was blessed to be born and raised.”

Loban was the main sponsor of former professional auto racer Brad Lloyd, a 2009 Vintage graduate.

“My high school years were the foundation for the man I am today, and I still enjoy sharing these memories,” Loban said. “The teenage years are so impressionable, and I hope that I have helped make the athletes I coached have the same love for their high school days as I do.”

Daniel Murphree, Class of 2003

Though known mostly for being one of only two Crushers to win a boys wrestling state title, as a 145-pound senior, Murphree was also part of the Crushers’ great soccer legacy. Playing all four years, he helped Vintage finish second in the MEL and make the Sac-Joaquin Section playoffs as a senior.

In wrestling, he was a three-time league champion and three-time state meet qualifier. He was a section runner-up as a sophomore at 140 pounds and went 1-2 at state. As a junior, he won at sections at 145s and went 3-2 at state. As a senior, he won both the section and state title at 145s.

“My inspiration evolved over the years from a place of fear to a place of personal growth and optimism,” he said. “I think I needed to prove to myself that I could achieve whatever I put my mind to. In order to train at a high level, I would have to motivate myself by reaffirming my goals. I had an honest conversation with myself when I would train. I would pick a fight with myself. I would focus on how beautiful Napa is when I was running around town. I spent a lot of time running around Napa, alone, with my Discman and ‘running mix’ CD.

“Westwood Hills was one of my favorite places to train, without the Discman. I remember the first time I went there, I was still a kid, and the hills tore me up. Fast forward 10 years later, I was running the course two times. We would run this challenging, meandering route through the park, ending with a sharp incline towards the end. If you could run it without stopping, that was good. Then I would run sprints at the end. Sprint, then jog back down. Sprint up, then back down, sprint back up, then jog back down, etc., until I tapped out. That last part is essential, the sprints at the end. That is striking while the iron is hot. That is where the change happens.”

Murphree said he made the starting lineup for the UC Davis wrestling team by beating a teammate who had defeated him when he was a high school sophomore. He graduating from UC Davis with an art degree.

“With that degree, I have been working on a lot of projects, mostly building houses,” said Murphree, who also has a contractor’s license. “I love hiking and hanging out with my girlfriend and dog.”

He considers his influential people to be “all the coaches, teammates, parents, family and, especially, the people who I lost matches to. So many people were influential in my sports career, I can’t remember everyone. My dad (Carl) was the one who put me on the mat to begin with.

“I use a lot of the knowledge from VHS in my everyday life, starting with the education I received. On a daily basis, I use science, math, physics and art. The experiences I had have helped me become the person I am today because they are me. They are the foundation of my life.”

Emilee Murphree, Class of 2002

She was undoubtedly an inspiration for her brother Daniel after winning a wrestling state title herself as a senior — at almost the same weight he did, 144 pounds. She wrestled all four years at Vintage, competed in JV soccer and cross country as a freshman and sophomore, and was a “proud” member of the school newspaper staff.

Murphree placed in a number of wrestling tournaments throughout her high school career, including first at the Napa Valley Girls Classic as a senior before winning state. She placed at nationals that year, as well.

“I’m proud to have been part of a growing sport with women’s wrestling,” she said. “It’s wonderful to see the success of the Napa Valley Classic tournament and sport in general. Being part of an emerging women's sport provided a lot of inspiration. To be at tournaments and on a team with other women who were part of growing the sport was a huge motivation. We all encouraged and supported each other.”

She drew inspiration from her brother and her father, Carl, who was her head coach not only at Vintage but also at Missouri Valley College. Emilee placed fifth at nationals and earned All-American status in her final year of college wrestling.

“My teammates, especially the other women I trained with, and the other coaches and wrestlers who were supporting women’s wrestling throughout the state also had a big influence,” she said. “We had a great network of women and we often trained together over the summers and supported each other at tournaments.”

Murphree now lives in St. Louis, Mo., with husband Noah and their 4-year-old son, Desmond. She is the Director of Communications and Marketing for Pedal the Cause, a nonprofit cycling event that funds cancer research.

“To be part of growing something in its early stages is very special. I got to witness incredible support networks form and watched fellow athletes do things that hadn’t been done before,” she said. “I learned so much watching the collaboration, innovation and determination of all the people involved in building tournaments and teams from the ground up.

“I learned a great deal from wrestling as a sport — the important balance between flexibility and strength, the relationship between individual and team success, and how improvements are built through small, yet consistent efforts.”

Keith Pahre, Coach

He was Vintage’s athletic director for 10 years, from 1986 to 1997, and could relate to many of the coaches under him because he’d coached three sports himself — cross country from 1972-74, JV boys basketball in 1972-73, varsity boys basketball from 1974-86, and boys golf from 1985-97.

He taught at Silverado Middle School from 1965-68 and coached its track and eighth-grade boys basketball teams. He went on to teach at Napa High from 1968-72 and at Vintage from its 1972 inception through 1997.

Every team he coached at Vintage had a winning season, with the varsity basketball team winning the MEL title in 1976-77. Several of his basketball players and golfers went on to play in college. Of note was Mark Funseth, who earned a full-ride golf scholarship to Stanford. He said he coached many “fun to watch, exemplary high school basketball players” and his golf teams were consistently in the section finals.

Pahre found it fulfilling to be “respected and able to coach great kids and relate to students. I worked with dedicated coaches and faculty who supported sports. I tried to help kids improve, have fun, appreciate their team members and the power of teamwork, and know that I accepted them and their talents for who they were.”

He said his own high school basketball coach was “most important because he pushed me and helped me get a college basketball scholarship. Otherwise, I would not have attended college.

“No matter what you do with team activities, sports in my case, you learn valuable life lessons: humility, compromise, excitement, pride, teamwork, and sometimes just keeping your mouth shut in the face of criticism,” he said with a smile.

Jamillah (Titus) Little, Class of 2002

She excelled in cross country and track and field, and that’s not exaggerating.

Titus placed in the top 10 at the cross country state meet from her freshman through senior year.

Her biggest accomplishments were in track, where she made it to the state finals as a sophomore, junior and senior in the 400 meters, 800 meters and high jump. In 2002, she became the first Vintage athlete to place first at the state meet, winning the 800. She conquered multiple school and meet records in the high jump, 400, 800, 1600 and 4x400 relay.

Her best memory was winning the state meet and bringing the gold medal to her senior prom that night.

“We flew in from L.A. with the gold around my neck and my whole family behind me, including my coach,” she recalled. “We crashed the last hour of my senior prom just to break the news to my fellow Crushers, saying ‘We got the gold!’ We all celebrated that moment together.”

She said her physical education teacher at Silverado Middle School, Mike Schimke, was influential in that he persuaded her to try track and cross country at Vintage.

“I was a swimmer as well, but swimming and track had the same season so I was going to choose swimming over track,” she recalled. “But Coach Schimke just kept asking me to go out for the team as a freshman. I gave in and never looked back. I ran one meet as a freshman, the next meet I was bumped up to varsity.”

She said Coach Dave Muela was also a big influence.

“We dropped a lot of blood, sweat and tears on that dirt field almost every day,” she recalled. “He kept me challenged and never let me give up until I gave all that I could give, even making me practice with the boys every day. He saw a champion in me from Day 1.

“My family kept me going most, though, because without them there is no me. My parents were right there keeping any doubts and negativity out of my head. I always enjoyed representing myself and my school as best as I possibly could. That was motivation enough, along with the support of my teachers, classmates, teammates, family and coaches. I had a duty to be great. I never had a meet that I went to without being able to look up in the stands and have a family member there supporting me, from sun-up to sundown, with PB&J, strawberries and a Capri Sun (juice box) ready at all times.”

Little received a full-ride scholarship to South Dakota State University for track and cross country and performed well in both sports there. She graduated with a degree in psychology. She now work in the medical field as a phlebotomist. She’s been married “12 years and counting to my amazing, supportive and loving husband, Deandre. We have two incredible boys, Malcolm, 8, and Jordan, 9, which I hope to one day continue my legacy in the sport of their choosing.”

Little said she hasn’t stopped pushing herself to excel.

“I took the drive to be the best person that I could possibly be with me to this day,” she said. “I always try to do whatever I can to make others happy, to give support in any way I can, just like I was given at Vintage. It really makes a difference having someone in your corner — not just family, but friends, coaches and teachers as well. I appreciate every moment, the good, the bad and the ugly. It all helped me become such a well-rounded individual.”

Bob Tedesco, Coach

During his 30-plus years as a Vintage teacher, Tedesco coached varsity, JV and freshman football, was the wrestling head coach for six years, and assisted track and field head coach Bill Williams with the throwing events.

Tedesco was there for the first of only two feats in school history in each of two sports.

He was the wrestling head coach when George Moskowite became the school’s first state champion in the sport in 1976, wrapping up at 51-0 season in the heavyweight division. Only Dan Murphree has won a state title since, in 2003.

In 1980, Tedesco coached the defensive line when the Crushers won their first section title in football and also finished undefeated (13-0). Only one team has ruled the section since, in 1986, and he was part of that one, too.

“I was a JV coach in 1986, but (line coach) Bill McGrath let me send in defensive signals for the varsity team that won the section championship,” he recalled.

Tedesco also coached the defensive line and special teams for the only other Vintage football team to reach a section championship game, the 1983 squad that fell just 15-12 to Christian Brothers in the final.

“I was more of a motivator than a game planner,” he said. “I coached my teams and players to always give it their best — don't complain, do your job. As far as injuries, I told them they can be hurt after the game; there's no time to be injured now.”

He lists as influential people during his coaching career football coaches Mike Koontz, Bob “Bull Rider” Herlocker, Les Franco, Mike Scrivner, Jim Costan, Ben Cassinerio, Bill McGrath, Bill Forsythe, Clarence Tye, Bill Williams, Larry Scorza, Steve Porter and Bubba Andrade.

“I met so many incredible people while teaching and coaching at Vintage,” he said. “These people have helped me remain humble and thankful for all the great relationships and memories I have experienced.”

You won’t see Tedesco on the sidelines much any more.

“I go fishing and duck hunting as often as I can. I also try to exercise as much as I can to fight off old age,” he said. “Most importantly, I love playing with my grandson, Rocco.”

Sue Bird has called time on her career after her Seattle Storm side failed to advance in the WNBA Finals. The Aces held off the Storm 97-92 in Game 4 in the best-of-five semi-final series to progress to the final. Bird announced in June that the current WNBA season would be her last. She finished her final game with 8 points and 8 assists. "Obviously, so thankful for 20 years here. I’m going to miss it so much. I’m not going anywhere. But I’m going to miss it," Sue Bird. Bird, the No. 1 overall pick in the 2002 WNBA draft, is the league’s all-time assists leader and a 13-time All-Star. The 41-year-old played her entire career with the Storm, where she won four championships. She is seen as one of the best point guards of all time. Sue Bird’s Achievements 4x WNBA Champion 13x All-Star 5x Olympic Gold Medalist 2x NCAA Champion 5x Euroleague Champion

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