Fullerton College Centennial


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To hear Hal Sherbeck tell it, his success of many decades guiding Fullerton College’s athletics department and its many programs — primarily the school’s football team — was simply the product of luck and good fortune, of being in the right place at the right time.

To accept this is to fail to attribute the many admirable traits Coach Sherbeck brought with him when he arrived at the small junior college in 1961: His work ethic, dedication, integrity, adherence to a high standard of excellence. Yet, his caring and compassion for his student athletes seems to be the quality most cherished by all those around him. Sherbeck treated everyone, whether students, faculty, staff or administration, as deserving of all the individual attention he could lavish upon them.

In spring of 1961, FC’s president, Dr. H. Lynn Sheller, invited Sherbeck to coach the school’s football team. The Montana native was then head baseball coach, assistant basketball coach, and freshman football assistant (and, post-retirement, football team consultant) at University of Montana. He had never really considered the idea of relocating his life and his career to Southern California — yet, he was so thoroughly impressed with Sheller and his commitment to Fullerton College that he accepted the job, serving as both football coach and athletic director.

In just a few years, FC’s previously unsuccessful team went from doormat to serious contender. Its 1964 season included the start of an incredible 47-game winning streak and a trip to the Avocado Bowl, and the 1965 season continued the streak and ended in a trip to the Rose Bowl and a national championship. The winning streak, bowl appearances and title remain to this day as one of the school’s — and one of Sherbeck’s — most monumental achievements. Throughout the 1960s, Coach Sherbeck recruited the best football players from local high schools, then motivated them to work together as a team, and he constantly preached his student athletes to develop a positive mental outlook. He also surrounded himself with a devoted staff whose philosophy toward student athletes mirrored his own. These individuals included Al Feola, the first coach Sherbeck hired when he arrived at FC and who was with him during the entire time at FC; Marv Sampson, who came on board in 1963; and John Pease, Larry MacDuff, Jeff Jesperson, Ray Ogas, Jim Moore, Howard Black and trainer Bill Chambers.

FC’s football team won national championships again in 1967 and 1983, and Coach Sherbeck’s 241 wins and three national titles make him one of the most successful coaches in community college history. More than 500 of Sherbeck’s athletes continued on to careers at the university and professional levels. These include Jim Fassel, who played quarterback at FC during the 1967 and 1968 seasons and had a notable career coaching the New York Giants; Brian Noble, who played with the Green Bay Packers; Washington Redskins defensive back Brig Owens; Saints quarterback Dave Wilson; Chiefs defensive back J.C. Pearson; Raiders and Bills offensive lineman Dave Ogas (Ray Ogas’ brother); Mike Horan, kicker for the Eagles, Broncos, Giants, Bears and Rams; and Steve DeBerg, quarterback for the 49ers, Chiefs, Buccaneers, Dolphins and Falcons.

Coach Sherbeck’s accomplishments at Fullerton College are now legendary. At the heart of his coaching philosophy was showing support and caring of, and love for, every last one of his players. This nurturing spirit wound up creating a virtual following among the hundreds of young athletes who went through the football program at Fullerton College and whose lives were transformed by it. In tribute to the man and his impact, in the spring of 1992, FC’s athletic field was renamed Sherbeck Field, while a statue of him is being unveiled in 2013 to coincide with the school’s centennial.

“Players came to Fullerton not hoping to win; they expected to win — and that’s the difference. One of the things that happened is that it just mushroomed. Once you defeated universities and colleges all around, opposing players saw that, and they wanted to be on a winning team.”
Coach Hal Sherbeck, January, 2011

“Getting young men, year after year, to buy into a program, and to be able to win in Southern California, and beating the teams we did, and winning 47 games in a row, was something that I felt was the best.”
Coach Hal Sherbeck, January, 2011

“I don’t deserve any special credit for our success. We had a great situation and things just fell into place. There are many others who were involved who deserve a lot of credit for that. The staff and I felt fortunate that we coached during ‘the golden years’.”
Coach Hal Sherbeck, November, 2012

“I never regretted living in a small town. I felt I was more privileged than any other young person because I was able to do so much.”
Coach Hal Sherbeck, January, 2011

“You have to treat people well and show them your love for them and that you care about them, and let them know that you are there for them.”
Coach Hal Sherbeck, January, 2011

“Being at Fullerton College was a fun time for me. I never felt any pressure. We had a great staff of instructors, and I would always go to talk to them about some of my players who were in their classes. I felt fortunate to have the opportunity to be on the campus with the staff and of meeting great people — the instructors and administrators.”
Coach Hal Sherbeck, November, 2012

“There was no better person at Fullerton College than Dr. Sheller. He’s the icon, as far as I’m concerned.”
Coach Hal Sherbeck, November, 2012

Being a Hornet, Sherbeck says, is “being a member of a family and of a program that you felt you could be a very meaningful part of. Once you became a Hornet, you felt you would always be a part of the program, and love and care about each other.”
Coach Hal Sherbeck, January, 2011

“I want to be sure people realize what fantastic assistant coaches I had at Fullerton College – they were incredibly important to the success we enjoyed.”
Coach Hal Sherbeck, November, 2012

“I’ve been very, very lucky. My whole life was unbelievable.”
Coach Hal Sherbeck, January, 2011

Date of Birth:

March 16, 1928

Dates at Fullerton College:


Department or Specialty:

Athletics Department (football, golf)


  • Dean of Physical Education Division, 1962-1992
  • Head Football Coach, 1961-1992
  • Athletic Director, 1962-1992
  • Head Golf Coach, 1962-1972
  • 3 Football National Championships (1965, 1967, 1983)
  • Golf team State of California championship, 1971
  • 241-70-8 career record (.768)
  • Winningest coach in community college history (at time of retirement)
  • Nationally ranked (top 25) 21 times
  • 16 conference titles
  • 13 bowl game appearances
  • 47-game unbeaten streak (1964-1968)
  • Coached more than 100 All-Americans
  • Sent more than 500 players to four-year schools
  • FC athletic field renamed Sherbeck Field (1992)
  • Commission On Athletics Hall of Fame Inductee (2001)
  • Fullerton College Athletics Hall of Fame Inductee (2005)
  1. Sherbeck, Hal. Videotaped Centennial Project interview, recorded and conducted by Jay Goldstein, January, 2011.
  2. Sherbeck, Hal. Telephone interviews with Eric Marchese, 1 Nov., 20 Nov. and 11 Dec. 2012.
  3. Sports Information office, Fullerton College.