Thursday, April 24, 2014

Bellotti, Curry to join Northern California Hall of Fame


When the Northern California Sports Association hosts its annual dinner April 6, the Hall of Fame induction ceremony will have a decidedly Davis feel.

Among the eight area athletic giants to be feted are Mike Bellotti, a former Aggie and the winningest football coach in University of Oregon history, and women’s basketball pioneer Denise Curry, arguably the greatest athlete in Davis High history.

Association president John Rice says he is delighted to have the pair accept invitations to attend the banquet, which will be in Yuba City’s St. Isidore’s Church multipurpose room.

Bellotti — a branch in the extensive Jim Sochor UC Davis coaching tree — was a three-sport standout at Ygnacio High (Concord) before playing for his legendary mentor in the early 1970s.

(Sochor also is among a handful of Aggies who are association Hall of Famers.)

After assisting Sochor and baseball coach Phil Swimley at UCD, Bellotti had a sparkling five-year run as Chico State’s football coach before heading to Oregon.

As the Top Duck in Eugene, Bellotti became the winningest coach in the school’s grid history.

He led Oregon to 12 bowl appearances in 14 years and took the Ducks to two Rose Bowls.

Bellotti spent time as athletic director, installing his former assistant Chip Kelly (now coach of the NFL’s Philadelphia Eagles) and putting Duck football among the nation’s elite programs.

Curry, a charter member of the Davis High School Blue & White Foundation’s Hall of Fame, led the Blue Devils to the first two Sac-Joaquin Section girls basketball titles in the mid-1970s.

Curry — along with Nancy Lieberman and Ann Meyers — became a pioneer in leading women’s basketball into a world of respectability.

After a storied career at UCLA, Curry became a two-time Olympian, winning the gold medal in 1980 and pacing the women’s national team for eight years. Curry excelled as a player in Europe and coached in the United States at Cal State Fullerton and Long Beach State.

Want a nifty trivia question?

Q. Who is the all-time leading scorer in the UCLA basketball program?

A. Denise Curry: 3,198 points.

No, not Lew Alcindor (2,325) or even the Bruin men’s top basketmaker Don MacLean (2,608). Just for yucks, throw into your answer that Curry also is the Bruins’ greatest career rebounder (1,310) — men or women.

Curry was a three-time All-American who averaged a double-double during her four-year career (24.6 ppg and 10.2 rebounds). She was the all-sport UCLA athlete of the year in 1981 and was named French player of the decade for the 1980s.

Curry most recently joined former teammates for a 1977 team reunion at DHS in 2011 and currently runs basketball camps and clinics while helping with the family business in Orange County.

Joining Bellotti and Curry as inductees will be Mark Cartwright (Yuba City pitcher and former Yankee prospect), longtime Honker softball and basketball coach Richard McKray, Pac-10 footballer George Nicholau (California) and Rex Chappell. Chappell spent 21 years as the Sierra College football coach after an accomplished career at the old Grass Valley High.

Also being honored is former Winters High standout Byron Randolph, who went on to play AAA ball in the Dodgers’ organization. With the Warriors, Randolph was 42-3 with a 0.58 ERA.

Homer “Buzz” Ostrom also will be inducted posthumously. Ostrom was a Grass Valley High wrestler, football and track star who excelled at Chico State — including being crowned the 1949 Far West Conference middleweight boxing champion.

Melissa Mahoney of Woodland High and Shasta’s Blake Zufall will be two of the six recipients sharing $15,000 in association scholarship money, Rice told me.

Mahoney — who also excels in golf, basketball and volleyball — won both hurdle events against the Blue Devils in Wednesday’s Battle for the Spade. A 4.3 GPA-earner, Mahoney is headed to either Cal or UCLA.

Zufall, whose 4.27 GPA got him in UCD, will be running for the Aggie track team next spring.

Interested in attending?

Tickets are $25 and can be secured by calling either Joel Guthrie at 530-743-2089 or Rice at 916-296-1501. The festivities begin at 4:30 p.m. with a reception; dinner follows with awards at 6:30 p.m.

While I Have You Here: Curry joined Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (nee Alcindor), Bill Walton and Meyers as the first four UCLA basketballers to have their jerseys retired. Curry is one of only 15 women in the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame.

It’s a fun search, visiting Look up Curry in the “Hall of Famers” link. An interesting profile and video of her 1997 acceptance speech await.

— Bruce Gallaudet is a staff writer for The Davis Enterprise. Reach him at or 530-747-8047.

Bruce Gallaudet


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