It was a long and fun journey to fill the offseason and we've once again arrived to induct a new class of 5 Golden Bears to the CGB Hall of Fame. We'll take a closer look at our current Hall of Fame and the new members below.
Thanks to all the folks that helped out with the profiles and postings, and special thanks to all of you that voted! GO BEARS!
Ladies and gentlemen, I'd like to proudly present to you the 2013 California Golden Blogs Hall of Fame Class. It was a long summer of profiles and voting but after starting with 64 candidates we managed to whittle the group down to four members from the four regions and then we we added a fifth member in the Last Chance vote.
And now, the Class of 2013: Alex Morgan, Jorge Gutierrez, Carli Lloyd, Valerie Arioto, and Pete Newell.
Number 1 seeds Alex Morgan and Jorge Gutierrez cruised through the Joe Kapp and the Brick Mueller Regions with little opposition and were never really challenged, and rightly so. Number 2 seed Valerie Arioto won the Pete Newell Region while Carli Lloyd was victorious in the Pappy Waldorf Region. And then, Pete Newell triumphed in the last chance vote, rounding out our 2013 class.
Alex Morgan is somewhat of a cult heroine on CGB (mostly on the DBD) because of her wholesome good looks. But she is not CGB HOF-worthy simply because she has so many admirers among Cal fans. Alex Morgan is CGB HOF-worthy because she might be the greatest Cal women's soccer player ever there was. And since Cal is the alma mater of Joy Biefeld Fawcett, that is saying something.
Alex closed her Cal career as the third leading all-time scorer in California women's soccer history with 107 points (45 goals). She was the team's leading scorer in her senior season (2010) despite missing several games due to being called up to play games on the USA National team. She led the nation in scoring for much of the season and it's not a stretch to say she would have won that title easily had it not been for her commitment to USA Soccer.
The accomplishments don't stop there. Alex's career is dotted with achievement: ● First team All-American as a senior ● First-team All-Pac-10 selection four times ● First Cal player ever to be named as a finalist for the Hermann Trophy, the Heisman of women's soccer ● Led Cal to the NCAA tournament in each of her four years ● Second-team Freshman All American in 2007
She started playing regularly for the senior U.S. Women's National Team in 2010 and had her breakthrough in 2011. She scored vital goals all along the way for the Red, White and Blue and ended up accomplishing her goal of earning a Gold Medal.
Alex was also drafted first overall in the 2011 Women's Professional Soccer draft by the Western New York Flash where she helped them win the championship the same year. She is currently a member of the Portland Timbers Women's Soccer club, who play in the W-League.
I'm pretty sure I speak for more than just myself when I say that Jorge is one of my favorite Cal athletes to watch, not only in the past few years, but also in my lifetime. I always felt like no matter whom we were playing or how the game was going, as long as Jorge was there we had a chance. I knew that he would never quit and would be right there to take a charge, dive on the floor for a loose ball, or hit a huge shot at the buzzer. Simply put, he was an exciting player and one that embodied everything that Cal athletics represents. It was a privilege to watch him play and I'm glad he was a Golden Bear.
When we first watched Gutierrez, it was hard not to love him. Jorge was just a high energy bundle that wasn't terribly focused, but it always seemed to spark the team when he was really able to get into it. Here was a guy who struggled to dribble, struggled to pass, struggled to shoot, and there he was locking down James Harden, spearheading a double digit comeback against the Furd, dunking and throwing an and-one layup high in the air to clinch a Pac-10 title.
Love does funny things to you. It makes you forget about turnover rates and field goal percentage and free throw rate because numbers be damned, watching Jorge was a joy. You discard those things because you like to imagine you can play with that sort of wild desperation, put that much effort into something you love that much. With that type of effort, that type of confidence, and just enough skill, anything is possible.
I've watched Cal basketball seriously for four years, and having Jorge be part of those experiences made it not just worthwhile, but meaningful. Watching almost every big momentum-changing steal, every forced turnover; every grimace; every sell of a call, every race he made toward a basketball regardless of what might be in the way, every time he went to the ground and we held our breath, until we realized it was Jorge and he'd be up in thirty seconds because that's who he was, every little inch he refused to give to his opponent, every chestbump from an inspired teammate, every spontaneous standing ovation we gave him for some random Jorge thing he'd do, every little thing he did do that we thought he couldn't do--those moments added up.
The first recruit signed by head coach Mike Montgomery at Cal (mid-May 2008), Gutierrez is a versatile guard who can play several positions on the court ... proved to be an invaluable reserve coming off the bench ... consistently one of the hardest-working players whenever he's on the court ... named the team's Defensive Player of the Year last season.
Senior guard Jorge Gutierrez, the heart and soul of a Cal team that chased the conference championship until the final day of the season, became the first player named Pac-12 Player of the Year and Defensive Player of the Year on Monday.
"Jorge just wins, and he has done that for us for four years," Cal coach Mike Montgomery said. "Coaches appreciate that part of it, without getting stuck on numbers or the spectacular athleticism. I'm not trading Jorge for anybody."
NorCalNick: College softball is a sport dominated by amazing pitchers. Top ERAs routinely hover in the 1.00-2.00 range. Often, games feel like a frustrating game of chicken, while you wait for one team to make a mistake that allows a solitary run to cross to break a 0-0 deadlock.
Which only makes what Valerie Arioto did even more amazing. She destroyed college softball pitching in a way I didn’t think was possible, and in the process received the Barry Bonds treatment from opposing pitchers despite being surrounded with players good enough to start for the #1 team in the country. Her senior year numbers still seem unfathomable:
137 at bats
23 home runs
94 walks (17 intentional)
On Base Percentage: .474
Almost half of her hits were home runs. About 17% of her plate appearances ended in home runs. If pitchers had challenged her, she could have approached 40 home runs on the season. And these numbers are for an entire season in the Pac-12, perennially the toughest conference in the country, and the playoffs, where offense goes to die.
The fences at softball fields are much closer than the fences at baseball fields, for obvious reasons. The pitching is tougher to hit, the heavy balls don’t fly as far, female hitters aren’t as strong as male hitters, etc. Arioto made Levine-Fricke field look like a little league diamond. Her home runs were no-doubters, moon shots sailing well over the fences erected to protect cars in the parking lot of the Strawberry Canyon Recreation Area, or laser beams that exited the field almost before you could react.
I know for every non-Giants fan, the name Barry Bonds is near-verboten. But for about five years or so, I watched the most dominating individual athlete I can ever recall. Bonds toyed with a sport renowned because you fail most of the time. And when it was over, and he retired, I thought that I would never see another athlete stand at the plate and control the game the way I saw him do it. And then a leftie came along who crowded the plate, but could turn on any ball with her bat speed. She wasn’t afraid to take a walk, but never let those walks take her out of her rhythm the next time a pitcher actually decided to challenge her.
Oh yeah, and she could pitch.
From BTown85: "The anchor of Cal's Pac-10 Champion women's v-ball team and National POY, leading the Golden Bears to the NCAA Finals only to lose (again) to Penn St. What a stud !!!!"
She is only the second player in Cal women's volleyball history to be a three-time All-American, and the only setter to win AA honors. This past year, she led the Bears to a program best 30-win season, their first-ever Pac-10 championship, and their first-ever national championship match. In recognition for her amazing play, she was also named the National AVCA Player of the Year. She is the first Cal woman to ever earn this prestigious award.
"Carli Lloyd and Meagan Schmitt, the lone seniors on the Cal volleyball team, were taking a walk on Sunday night, only hours after the NCAA tournament bracket was released.
The cool, crisp November air seemed to hint at the end of the season, the end of the year ... but also the beginning of a new one.
Suddenly Schmitt stopped. She turned to her friend and roommate and asked her if she would be satisfied with getting to the final four, like they did as freshmen in 2007. "Would that be enough for you?" she inquired.
Lloyd looked at her and answered with the intensity that has become her trademark quality in four years at Cal. "Absolutely not," she said. "I can't imagine anything other than winning.""
As a representative for the US, she helped Team USA win two gold medals and bronze medal. She is the only three-time selection to the USA A2 National team in the program's history. Now that she has graduated, Carli is working out with the U.S. Women's National Training Team in hopes of making the 2012 Olympic team.
Carli ended up making the team as an alternate and is well positioned to take a prominent position on the national team in the future.
Carli is currently playing professional volleyball overseas in Italy. Off the court, she has inspired fan videos like the following:
NorCalNick gives up the scoop on Coach Newell:
What I know about Pete Newell is likely very similar to what you know about him. He’s a legendary head coach, universally regarded as one of the great innovators. Bob Knight thinks he’s the greatest. John Wooden couldn’t take over the conference until he left. He won a national title and his team took down Oscar Robertson. He won an Olympic medal with Oscar Roberson. He became known as a big man guru and introduced the reverse action offense. Perhaps most importantly, the iconic picture of him nervously chewing a towel doubles as an iconic visual metaphor for Cal fans.
Unfortunately, that picture hints at a problem: Newell retired from coaching at the age of 45 due to stress, leading to a gigantic ‘what-if.’ It’s hardly unusual for respected coaches to keep going well into their 60s or 70s. If Newell had stayed active, would Cal basketball have fallen into a 50 year wilderness of only occasional relevancy? Would John Wooden be the same Wooden? Perhaps Cal would be the west coast blue blood.
In any case, Newell compiled a record of 119-44 while at Cal, then became Cal’s athletic director until 1968. I can’t begin to vouch for his abilities as an administrator, although I doubt anybody would look back at the 60s as a golden era for Cal sports. Considering the climate on campus at the time, perhaps there wasn't much anybody could do.
If the CGB hall of fame were identical to the Cal hall of fame, Pete Newell would be a charter member as perhaps the best (and most influential) coach in school history, in any sport. Alas, few if any of us were able to witness Newell’s teams in action.
So there you have it, the CGB Hall of Fame Class of 2013. Congrats to all of the recipients!
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