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So, I spent the greatest part of my professional life participating in a process called Fullerton College. It used to be Fullerton Junior College or just FJC, but in seventies and eighties, we had to take on a more “grown up”, maybe prestigious sounding name.
Here are a couple of the remembrances that come to mind as FC prepares for its centennial celebration.
I came to FC from UCLA, where I had coached for three seasons. Many people told me that our decision (my wife Linda and me) to move from a Division 1 institution to a junior college was “professional suicide”. What I found to be true was something that could not have been further from the truth.
The first thing I felt, upon arrival, was the sense of community. I was able to live in the area and feel that I was really a part of the experience that painted the daily directions of our workplace. At UCLA, the commute that most of my colleagues participated in each day negated that possibility. At first we were in Rowland Heights. My travel time was reduced to roughly twelve minutes; as opposed to the wonderful, daily one to two hours across the LA sprawl to Bruin Land. Later, we moved to West Yorba Linda and this trip was shortened to nine minutes. Immediately, it allowed for me to participate more fully in the raising of our three children. As a matter of fact, each of the kids soon became students at Fullerton College, and having lunch with the squirrels was a neat off shoot of the Hornet experience. All good. Our youngest competed on the Hornet Track and Field Team. Our eldest was a part of the Baseball program and enjoyed the direction given him by Uncle Nick Fuscardo. Our middle girl was part of the Cosmetology program and encouraged her dad to get cheap haircuts.
Upon arrival, I became part of the Physical Education Division. Immediately I was taken under the wing of Hal Sherbeck. I know…a lot has been written and celebrated about Hal. I know, he sometimes can be depicted larger than life. But, in retrospect, every accolade that he received was well earned. He was a tireless, self-effacing leader. He taught his coaches as much as he led them. Expectation was the order of the day...every day. You could easily get your “butt in a wringer” if you came to your teaching or coaching obligation under prepared. He fully expected you to realize that what you did was an opportunity and responsibility (as well as a privilege) that should never be taken for granted. How good is that? His efforts were always to try and give you what you needed to do the job in the best way. We rarely had resources that would allow anything grandiose, but we were encouraged to be creative and to justify the use of any resources we received. As the Head Football Coach and Athletics Director and Department Chairman, he could have been accused of being a demigod. I found this not to be the case. He participated with us as opposed to the common practice of working for a boss. In our years together, he missed one home Hornet Track Meet. He took care of the finish line for me. This was unheard of in other quarters. Now, as then, I cannot relate the depth of respect and gratitude I had to be part of the program under Hal’s direction.
I was, initially, assigned to be part of the Faculty Senate. My first experiences were painful. I had a problem with “shared governance”. As a coach, I was used to seeing the problem, planning the direction, and executing the plan. In those first days, I was not used to dealing with so much discussion. As I matured, the faculty had some real issues that had to be worked out for the betterment of the entire FC experience. I began to understand. Later, the questioning and reasonable and equitable approach on the part of a young Joe Carrithers gave me hope in some difficult times. His ability to share his pointed wisdom with that deep South twang, I shall never forget. I spent eighteen years representing our interests on Faculty Senate.
I found my colleagues to be collegial in my very early years at the college. That had been a word to me...simply a word. But, the shared respect between members of the diverse disciplines became something that I embraced and enjoyed. Members of the faculty would regularly meet for morning coffee in the lounge and discuss, joke and get their brains primed to meet their students. Sharing experience from different points of view was encouraged and even respected. I made so many friends during this time, and we spent many holidays breakfasting together and many Hornet Football Games “tailgating” together. I miss that a lot, but can recall so many joyful episodes and so many loveable and amazing characters that were the staff of Fullerton College. There was a lot of laughter.
Holidays were special at Fullerton College. I had high school, community college and university experiences on my travels to FC. Something unique in our Division was the number of “kids” (former jocks and jockettes) that returned to see their respective mentors. So many young people (and later “not so young”) would return again and again to spend some time sharing their experiences at Fullerton College. Young men returning to see the indomitable Ezra Van Horn…to be in the presence of a guy who got up every day to share time with them in the face of immeasurable pain and physical challenge told volumes of his character. The lines to see CR (our beloved Colleen Riley) were amazing. What a role model for young women. Guys lined up to have Coach Al validate their new experiences as gggrrrreeeeaaattt (as only Coach Feola could). Marv and Glen had guys coming in; to just share a few words and confirm that maybe their experiences at FC were the best they ever had. It really felt like family...Heck , it was family.
So, to put an end to this before it becomes a saleable product; FC represents, in large part, an era in my life that will never be forgotten. Carl Schwartz, one of our wonderful and respected past Presidents in Senate once finished an idea by referring to FC as “our beloved institution”. He couldn’t have expressed the idea of FC more meaningfully. The ideas of respect and honest discourse are treasured memories. The love for the opportunity we all shared in teaching and preparing our students will always be there, and the call to GO HORNETS will follow me forever.
"FC represents, in large part, an era in my life that will never be forgotten."