Mesa Musings: OCC sports unites five Athletic Hall of Famers

October 31, 2011|By Jim Carnett

On Saturday night Orange Coast College will induct five luminaries into its Athletic Hall of Fame.

The ceremony begins at 4:30 p.m. in the Peterson Gym Foyer. The inductees will be introduced later that evening during the halftime ceremonies of the OCC-Golden West football game in LeBard Stadium. Kickoff is set for 6 p.m.

Inductees include former Pirate volleyball and basketball coach Bob Wetzel; football and baseball star Ken Moats; basketball standout Nancy Hatsushi-Rogers; rowing great Chris Clark; and volleyball and basketball icon Steve Timmons.


I've known Wetzel for more than 50 years. A genuine nice guy with a great sense of humor, "Wetz" has been a gifted athlete for the entirety of his life. He was a world-class racquetball player for many years.

Wetz graduated from Newport Harbor High School in 1953. He attended OCC from 1953-55, and played baseball and basketball. A flashy infielder and agile guard, he played for the college's first baseball and basketball coaches, Wendell Pickens and Miles Eaton.

Wetz hit .434 during his sophomore season as a Pirate. Wetzel led Coast to a 21-7 record and an Eastern Conference championship.

He went on to play several seasons in the minor leagues.

Wetzel was a Costa Mesa High School coach from 1961-64. That's when I got to know him. He was my physical education teacher.

Wetz returned to OCC's campus in 1964 as a P.E. instructor. He taught there for 31 years, and coached the men's basketball and volleyball teams.

For three seasons, Wetzel guided OCC's men's basketball fortunes. His 1966-67 and 1967-68 teams combined for a 47-20 record, and rank as the top two scoring teams in OCC's 63-year basketball history.

Wetzel's two squads scored in triple digits on 29 occasions. They exhibited an exuberant up-tempo style of play. I watched them perform on numerous occasions in a packed Peterson Gym. Since those two magical seasons, OCC's men's hoops teams have scored in triple digits 35 times in about 1,100 games.

Wetzel's two great teams featured an array of outstanding players, including John Vallely, Bruce Chapman and Craig Falconer. All three still rank among OCC's top 20 all-time career scorers. Vallely, who's still No. 1 on OCC's scoring list, went on to start for two national championship teams at UCLA, and had a stint in the NBA.

Chapman played at University of Nevada Las Vegas.

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