Woodland Hills, Calif. – More than 300 family, friends, Cal State Northridge Interim President Dr. Harry Hellenbrand 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.
Bill Cullum (the longtime head men’s golf coach), Larry Ramirez (a legendary Matador pitcher), John Tronson (arguably the greatest soccer player in school history) and the 1983 Matador softball team (NCAA champions in 1983) are the newest members of the prestigious Matador Hall of Fame.
The 2012 Hall of Fame class joins an elite group of 109 other student-athletes, former administrators, coaches and two other teams representing 18 sports into the Cal State Northridge Hall of Fame.
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 in years after leaving the University.
More than 20 Hall of Fame members were in attendance at Sunday’s luncheon including Bob Hiegert and Dr. Judy Brame, who were instrumental in forming the Matador Hall of Fame in 1981.
Dr. Hellenbrand summarized the importance of the day’s event as the first speaker during Sunday’s ceremonies.
“This year’s Hall of Fame inductees accomplished greatness on the playing field,” said Dr. Hellenbrand. “And their day-to-day accomplishments in life have brought greatness to this campus (CSUN), their community and this country.”
Matador Athletic Director Rick Mazzuto stated – “These men and women have done much to enrich the athletic history of Cal State Northridge. This year’s induction class represents an outstanding group of individuals who have contributed so much to the University.”
Bill Cullum enjoyed a distinguished career as men’s head golf coach (1965-86) at Cal State Northridge. Under Cullum’s direction, the Matadors captured three NCAA Division II golf championships and finished second nationally twice. Cullum also coached the Matadors won to eight California Collegiate Athletic Association (CCAA) championships from 1969-77. Cullum, who passed away on July 12, 2003, is also a distinguished member of the Golf Coaches Association of American Hall of Fame.
“Bill was a man of integrity and character,” said Cullum’s presenter and long time friend Jim Kanter (’66). “We are happy to have known you, coach. I know you are here in spirit.”
Cullum’s son, Billy Cullum (’90), accepted the Hall of Fame trophy on behalf of his father.
“My father was a great role model, and was always there for our family,” said Cullum. “He was a loving, caring father. He was a great coach who always first celebrated the success of his players.”
Larry “Ram” Ramirez (’71, MA ’72) is one of the great pitchers in Matador history. Ramirez, who was the pitching ace during the team’s run to the NCAA Division II national championship in 1970, chalked up a 20-8 record in two seasons (1969-70) with the Matadors. Ramirez’ name is still etched into several categories in the Matador baseball record book. His career ERA of 1.99 is still second all-time in school history.
Bob Hiegert, then the head coach of the Matadors, served as the presenter for Ramirez into the CSUN Hall of Fame. “Larry’s whole body of work is important to recognize. Larry distinguished himself for his toughness, his leadership, his great competitiveness and for being a great teammate. His tenacity raised the playing ability of his teammates. Academics were also important. He worked very hard to become tenured faculty at age 32 at the University.”
Ramirez, who was inducted into the Native American Hall of Fame in 2003, thanked Cal State Northridge, remembered his parents and relatives, and relayed the tough environment growing up during the turbulent 1960’s. Ramirez also wanted to thank his teammates for his success.
“Thank to the great infield behind me,” laughed Ramirez, who credited his infield and his other teammates for his success. “Those guys deserve a lot of credit in helping me succeed on the field. They were also great teammates off the field.”
John Tronson (’90) gained fame at Cal State Northridge as one of the top soccer players in school history. Tronson played for the Matadors from 1984-86 and even after all these years, his name is still etched in the school record book. That includes third all-time in school history in career goals (43) and career points (109).
During Sunday’s Hall of Fame induction ceremony, Tronson was described as the ultimate teammate. And as expected, Tronson’s speech induction included the word “team”.
“First and foremost, I want to acknowledge all my teammates and coaches,” Tronson told the large crowd. “I got a lot of credit for scoring a lot of goals but I was under no impression that I was better than any player on the team. There are eleven guys out there and it is a team sport. It was a pleasure to represent a great University like Cal State Northridge. We were also proud to play in a great community like the San Fernando Valley. It’s been great to come back to tour the campus which has certainly become world class.”
Mike McAndrew (’88) is also a CSUN Hall of Fame member and a former teammate of Tronson. McAndrew served as Tronson’s presenter. Again the theme was “team work”.
“John (Tronson) was a great team leader on-and-off the field,” said McAndrew. “He led the team to greatness with his positive attitude.”
Legendary Matador head coach Gary Torgeson was the proud presenter for the 1983 Cal State Northridge softball team that captured the first of three straight NCAA Division II championships.
“Today we are here to honor a team that started a lot of the great tradition in softball at Cal State Northridge,” said Torgeson. “This was a real thrill to coach this group. Their induction into the Matador Hall of Fame is certainly deserving. We had the determination and the firepower to win it all. And when the smoke cleared after many hard games at the NCAA Tournament, we won a national championship. ”
The ’83 Matadors became the pioneer and foundation for other great softball teams at Cal State Northridge. That team was loaded with outstanding players, six of whom gained all-CCAA league honors. The team featured All-American pitcher Kat Slaten.
The team members included Kim Breeden Roter, Nancy Buell, Cathy Carter-McDougall, Rebecca Drake, Jamie D. Gray, Terri Lamoree, Terry Lewandowski, Stacy F. Lim, Linda “Champ” Lowande, Angela M. Lucero, Nancy Lucero, Michele McAnany, Karen “Rookie” Mobilia Jones, Gail Muzzey, Shannon Oakes, Sue Oran-Stuart, Kat Slaten, Kathy S. Toerner and Dana Vasquez. The coaching and support staff included Gary Torgeson (head coach), Debbie Ching (Assistant Coach), Armando Madrid (Pitching Coach), Judy Brame (Women’s Athletics Director), Linda “Ziggy” Hicks (Student Trainer), Beth Kittle Parker (Undergraduate Assistant), and Ron Yukelson (Sports Information Director).