Swimmer Natalie Coughlin, winner of 11 NCAA titles and 12 Olympic medals, heads the seven-member 2014 class of inductees into the Cal Athletic Hall of Fame.
Also part of Cal’s 29th Hall of Fame class are gymnast Tom Beach, swimmer Anthony Ervin, golfer Sarah Huarte, track and field athlete Grace Upshaw, football coach Ray Willsey and contributor Rick Cronk, who earned the Hall of Fame Service Award.
Induction ceremonies will be held Oct. 17 at the Greek Orthodox Church Conference Center in Oakland. Ticket information for the event can be found at www.bigcsociety.com.
Here’s a capsule on each inductee:
– Tom Beach (1974-77): Beach earned an individual NCAA championship on vault in 1975 when he led the Golden Bears to the national team title. He also tied with Bart Conner for the USA Gymnastics all-around crown. The following year, he captured the NCAA high bar championship and was the runner-up in the all-around competition. Later in 1976, Beach secured a place on the USA Olympic team that competed in Montreal, where he finished 32nd in the all-around.
– Natalie Coughlin (2001-04): A three-time Olympian and winner of three gold medals and 12 overall medals – a total unsurpassed by any woman in U.S. Olympic history – Coughlin remains one of the premier swimmers in the world 10 years. As a Golden Bear, she won the 100-yard backstroke and 100-yard butterfly four times and the 200 back three times at the NCAA meet, capturing NCAA Swimmer of the Year and Pac-10 Swimmer of the Year (2001-03) three times each. She also has won 20 medals at the World Championships, eight of them gold.
– Anthony Ervin (2000-03): A four-time All-American, Ervin is also a three-time Olympic medalist. In 2000, he tied with Gary Hall Jr. for Olympic gold in the 50-meter freestyle while also picking up gold as a member of the 400 medley relay and silver on the 400 free relay. He was a three-time NCAA champion in the 100 free (2000-02) and voted the Pac-10 Swimmer of the Year in 2002. In addition, Ervin claimed the NCAA titles in the 50 free and on the 400 medley relay as a freshman in 2000 and on the 400 free relay as a junior. Between individual and relays, he won nine Pac-10 crowns.
– Sarah Huarte (2001-04): Huarte captured the 2004 NCAA individual championship, becoming the first golfer in school history to win the event. Her 10-under-par 278 total set an NCAA and school record and 10 years later, the mark still stands as the No. 2 score vs. par in the NCAA record book. Following her achievement, Huarte received the Honda Award, which is presented to the nation’s outstanding women’s golfer. As a senior during the 2003-04 season, she established a then-school-record 73.82 scoring average and earned first-team All-American honors. She completed her Cal career as a two-time All-American. Currently, she is the head women’s golf coach at USF.
– Grace Upshaw (1995-97): Upshaw is a two-time Olympian in the long jump who placed 10th in 2004 (21-9.50) and eighth in 2008 (21-7.00). She ranked No. 1 in the United States in the long jump three times (2002, ’03, ’07) and rated among the country’s top 10 every year from 2001-09. At the national championships, she won the event three times and was a four-time runner-up. A three-time qualifier for the World Championships in track & field, Upshaw was also the 2002 USA indoor champion. Upshaw’s personal best in the long jump was 22-7 in 2008 and she set an Edwards Stadium record with a leap of 22-3.75 in 2009.
– Ray Willsey (1951-52/football head coach 1964-71): A quarterback and defensive halfback for the Golden Bears under head coach Pappy Waldorf, Willsey helped Cal to an 8-2 record and No. 12 ranking in 1951 and to a 7-3 mark in 1952. In the 1952 Big Game, he stepped in at quarterback after an injury to the starter and led the Bears to a 26-0 win. Willsey went on to capture three Grey Cups playing in the Canadian Football League. Willsey returned to his alma mater and served as Cal’s coach from 1964-71, overseeing the program during a tumultuous period in the school’s history that included the Free Speech Movement and war-time protests. Still, Willsey was able to hold the team together and produced a record of 40-42-1 over eight seasons. In 1968, he oversaw the famed “Bear Minimum” defense, leading Cal to a 7-3-1 record – the only Cal team to win at least seven games from 1951-75. Following his tenure at Cal, Willsey won two Super Bowl titles on staff with the Raiders. He died last November at the age of 85.
– Rick Cronk (Hall of Fame Service Award): The Service Award is given for outstanding long-term contributions to Cal Athletics and presented to an individual for demonstrating exemplary leadership and setting a standard for excellence in enhancing the student-athlete experience. Cronk, who earned his degree in business administration and was a member of the Cal water polo team, has directed much of his energy to supporting the University as a whole and Cal Athletics in particular. Along with Ned Spieker, Don Fisher and Warren Hellman, he helped create the Splash Club to benefit Cal Aquatics. Cronk is a member of the Director’s Advisory Board and was a major donor to the Simpson Center for Student-Athlete High Performance. In 1993, he was named the Haas School of Business Alumnus of the Year. Cronk is the retired president of Dreyer’s Grand Ice Cream.