By Bob Vazquez, Assistant Athletic Director (Media Relations)
Northridge, Calif. – Stand around greatness and you will always learn something special.
Near the sports information bureau at Cal State Northridge is the office of Quincy Watts, a first-year Matador assistant track & field coach. Watts bleeds Trojan Cardinal & Gold. A friendly hello is often met with a raise of his right fist, a smile and the proud sound of "Fight On, USC."
Watts always enjoys the friendly banter about the merits of Trojan sports compared to other great Pacific-12 schools including Stanford and UCLA. Watts calmly listens, and then simply reels off some of the great moments in Trojan sports history including some of his exploits as the greatest 400 meter runner (1989-92) in USC history and his memories as a wide receiver on the Trojan football team in 1990.
On this one particular day, Watts casually mentions he will be extremely busy next Saturday night. Dinner plans are on the agenda and his fellow diners will include Clarence Davis (one of USC's all-time great running backs), Keyshawn Johnson (one of the most prolific wide receivers in USC annals), Randy Johnson (A future major league Hall of Famer pitcher from USC), Tony Boselli (a two-time USC All-American offensive lineman and a future NFL Hall of Famer), Lindsay Benko Mintenko (a 21-time USC All-American swimmer), Brian Ivie (a USC volleyball player and the most dominant men's player of his era) and Tina Thompson (one of the world's greatest women's basketball players).
That's a pretty impressive dinner list. Hey Quincy, what's the occasion?
Seventeen Trojan luminaries, including Watts, will be honored as the tenth class of USC's Athletic Hall of Fame at an induction dinner on May 12 at USC's Galen Center.
Watts' accomplishments deserve entry into the USC Hall of Fame. The four-year (1989-92) letterman won the 1992 NCAA 400 meters in a meet record time of 44.00 and also ran the anchor leg on the USC school-record 1,600 meter relay team that placed second (3:00.58).
Watts continued his 1992 season by winning gold medals at the Barcelona Olympics in the 400 meters (an Olympic and still-standing USC record time of 43.50) and in the 1,600 meter relay in a world record time of 2:55.74.
"It was one of the greatest feelings in the world," recalls Watts after crossing the finish line to win the gold medal in the 400 meters. "You're standing on the (gold medal) podium, the national anthem is being played, and you wonder 'how did I get here?'"
Watts was ranked in the world Top 10 in the 400 meters for four consecutive years (1991-94), including #1 in 1992. As a member of the United States 1,600 meter relay team at the World Championships, Watts helped the U.S. to a silver medal in 1991 and a gold medal in 1993 in world record time.
Watts arrived at USC as a specialist in the 100 and 200 meter dashes from Taft High School in Woodland Hills. But injuries dogged him during his early years at USC. But the Trojan coaches continued to have faith in Watts' potential and Watts would eventually become a 400 meter runner by the time he reached his senior season.
His athletic exploits have earned Watts a well-deserved spot in the Trojan Hall of Fame.
"You definitely appreciate the great USC athletes who have come before you and have set the bar high," said Watts. "When you say your going to be a Trojan for life, it's for real."
Matador Memo …
Quincy Watts is one of four Olympic gold medalists who are now coaching at Cal State Northridge … Jeff Stork, CSUN head women's volleyball coach, was the starting setter on the 1988 U.S. Olympic volleyball team that captured the gold medal … Stork will be inducted into the Volleyball Hall of Fame in October, 2012 ... Tairia Flowers (head women's softball coach) and Natasha Watley (volunteer assistant softball coach) were members of the 2004 United States softball team that captured the gold medal in historic fashion … The 2004 U.S. softball team was anointed as the "Real Dream Team" on the cover of Sports Illustrated and their performance will go down in history as one of the most dominant ever in Olympic Games history … Stork, Flowers and Watley have all been nominated into the U.S. Olympic Hall of Fame.