Feb. 21, 2010
Northridge, Calif. - More than 400 family, friends, Cal State Northridge President Dr. Jolene Koester and avid supporters of Matador Athletics honored the newest members of the CSUN Hall of Fame in an emotional luncheon Sunday afternoon at the Warner Center Marriott Hotel.
Terry Craven (the Matadors' first baseball All-American), Dorothea "Granny" Heitz (the greatest sports fan in Matador history), Garrett Noel (a two-time Cal State Northridge track & field All-American), Priscilla Rouse Becker (a CSUN softball All-American) and the 1967 Junior Rose Bowl team are the newest members of the prestigious Matador Hall of Fame.
The 2010 Hall of Fame class joins an elite group of 105 other student-athletes, former administrators, coaches and one other team representing 18 sports into the Cal State Northridge Hall of Fame. The first Hall of Fame members were inducted in 1981.
Among the large contingent of people at the luncheon were numerous members of the Matador Hall of Fame including CSUN's winningest head basketball coach Pete Cassidy, legendary softball head coach Gary Torgeson, former basketball great Mark Cooley, Joe Buttitta, CSUN's first sports information director, former athletic director and former head baseball coach Bob Hiegert, and former softball great Beth Onestinghel Woll.
The Matador Hall of Fame was established in 1981 to recognize the men, women and Matador teams who distinguished themselves in athletics, either by sport or by meritorious efforts on behalf of athletics while an undergraduate or years after leaving the University.
Dr. Koester began the day's celebration with a congratulatory message.
"I am delighted to welcome you (the 2010 Hall of Fame class) to today's celebration where we pay tribute to the talented student-athletes and coaches whose daily dedication and commitment, both on and off the field, honor and inspire us all."
Matador Athletic Director Rick Mazzuto stated - "This Hall of Fame group recognizes the wonderful men and women who played such an important role in the development of University campus life. This year's induction class represents an outstanding group of individuals who have contributed so much to the University."
Priscilla Rouse Becker earned her way into the Matador Hall of Fame by helping Cal State Northridge win two NCAA Division II national championships in softball (1985 and 1987) and three straight California Collegiate Athletic Association (CCA) league titles (1985-87).
"I never dreamed of this honor, but now that it has happened, I am so honored and thankful," said Rouse Becker. "Thank you to the many people who have helped to make this day happen. To my teammates - you are my heroes."
During the 1987 national championship season, Rouse Becker hit a team-leading .475, which is still the fourth-best single season figure in school history Her six triples in 1987 are second-best in school history. She also collected 19 stolen bases (sixth-best for a single season) and her 23 sacrifice hits rank seventh-best in the Matador record book.
For her efforts in 1987, Rouse Becker gained first team All-American, All-Region and All-CCAA honors.
Over her three-year CSUN career (1985-87), Rouse Becker batted .355, which is fourth-best in school history.
Terry Craven earned distinction as an outstanding baseball player and later as head baseball coach and administrator at San Fernando Valley State College (now Cal State Northridge).
Craven earned the distinction of being the first baseball player in Matador baseball history to earn All-American honors. Craven only played one season for the Matadors (1965), but what a special season it was. Craven helped the team win the school's first league championship (CCAA) in baseball and advanced to the NCAA Regional.
"No one is more proud than I am to be associated with Cal State Northridge," said an emotional Craven. "What a tremendous honor. Thank you to all of you - my family, teammates and friends."
Craven led the team in batting, RBI's and home runs in 1965. Craven's 12 home runs led the nation. For his efforts, Craven was named an All-American, team MVP, first team All-CCAA (California Collegiate Athletic Association), CCAA MVP, and All-Pacific Coast first team.
After his playing days concluded, Craven returned to the Matador campus to begin a career as a successful assistant baseball and football coach, then head baseball coach. Craven also has been a highly successful administrator and editor. Craven taught Physical Education in the General Education and Professional Education Departments for 18 years.
Dorothea "Granny" Heitz's school spirit and devotion to Cal State Northridge and the Matador athletics program is still talked about.
Granny is highly admired and honored as arguably the all-time greatest sports fan in Matador history. Granny symbolized the loyalty, tradition and the school spirit of Cal State Northridge.
"Granny would have been so honored to receive this tremendous accolade," said Chad Charton, who accepted the Hall of Fame award on Granny's behalf. Granny passed away at age 92 in 2007. "Granny had a great passion for life, and you could see it with that effervescent smile. It was contagious. She loved all people. And she certainly loved Cal State Northridge. She impacted so many lives."
Granny started a Matador spirit squad called the "Granny Girls" in the 1960's, the unofficial campus ambassadors. Through the years, she embraced her role as an unofficial campus spirit leader. She attended numerous community, academic and athletic events to increase the spirit of the University.
In recognition of her leadership and appreciation of her loyalty, the University's award for Outstanding Volunteer Leadership appropriately bears her name. This award is the highest honor bestowed upon a CSUN volunteer leader.
In 2005, Granny and dozens of others made initial contributions to create the Granny Heitz Legacy Scholarship. Just a few weeks prior to her passing (August 12, 2007), Granny learned that contributions to the scholarship fund were sufficient to create an endowment.
Garrett Noel is regarded as one of the greatest track & field athletes in Cal State Northridge history.
Noel was a two-time NCAA Division I All-American (1992, 1993) in the javelin. Noel's career-best javelin throw (247-8, 75.48m), set in 1993, is still a Cal State Northridge school record. Noel still holds the freshman school record in the javelin (210-4, 64.10m), set in 1969.
After graduating from Cal State Northridge in 1993 with a degree in Communication, Noel continued his track & field career and eventually competed at the 2000 United States Olympic Track & Field Trials.
Noel was escorted to the podium with his two daughters, Alexis and Hannah. Noel thanked a multitude of people for the success he enjoyed while a student-athlete at Cal State Northridge, but it was his daughter Alexis who said it best.
"I am so proud of my dad," said Alexis. "He is my hero."
Numerous members of the 1967 Junior Rose Bowl team attended Sunday's Hall of Fame ceremony.
"This was a band of brothers," said their head coach Dr. Sam Winningham, who is also a member of the Matador Hall of Fame. "It is remarkable that after 42 years we have this wonderful turnout of players. The University should be proud of their efforts. Many of these players have gone on to careers in coaching, teaching, and education. They are a credit to the way they have lived their lives."
During the 1967 Matador football season, enthusiastic crowds flocked to the Matadors home stadium to witness a team deep in talent, experience and great team chemistry.
Even today, people still talk about the "old times" when the Matadors took to the gridiron to tackle the best teams in the highly respected California Collegiate Athletic Association (CCAA).
Back then, the league was one of the best, if not the best College Division football leagues in the country. The Matadors were league members and during the 1967 campaign battled their way to a respected 6-3 regular season record. The Matadors finished second in the CCAA behind national power San Diego State.
For their outstanding regular season efforts, the team received and accepted an invitation to play powerful West Texas State in the Junior Rose Bowl in Pasadena, Ca. on Dec. 2, 1967 before 23,802 fans.
Matador fans in 1967 witnessed a high octane Matador offense that averaged more than 32 points per game. The offensive standouts were many including record setting quarterback Bruce Lemmerman, receivers Gerry Peters and Dick Billingsley, and running back Mike Vogel.
The defense was described as "tougher than a boot," according to Matador fans. It was led by such standouts as Myron Bayless, Dick Baxley, Ed Lombardi, Bob Misko, Harry Cook, Dick Flaherty, Don West and Al Weil.
Dr. Winningham also acknowledged the seven members of the team and one assistant coach who have passed away - Myron Bayless, Harry Cook, Add Fancon, Mike Hannin, Ron Harris, Tom Jennison, Rudy Suarez, and assistant coach Bill Cullum.