Sports Hall of Fame enshrines 16th class

Colusa County’s top senior athletes were honored during the 2018 Hall of Fame banquet on Saturday. (From left to right): Alondra Cervantes, Manuel Espinoza, Brenda Cano, Angel Velazquez, Lauren Ornbaun, Dutch Kalfsbeek, Liz Hernandez, Will Kalisuch, and Sydney Lay.

On Saturday night, five outstanding Colusa County athletes from years past were inducted into the Colusa County Sports Hall of Fame during the 16th Annual Hall of Fame Dinner.

In addition, ten senior high school athletes – two each from Princeton, Pierce, Colusa, Williams and Maxwell – were honored for their accomplishments in prep sports, and the Hall of Fame Committee also gave out a Team Award, a Director’s Award and a Coach’s Award.

Paul Miller, Luke Steidlmayer, John Watson, Brent LaGrande, and Gerald Reckers composed the Colusa County Sports Hall of Fame’s class of inductees this year. Will Kalisuch, Sydney Lay (Colusa), Brenda Cano, Angel Velazquez (Maxwell), Dutch Kalfsbeek, Lauren Ornbaun (Pierce), Alondra Cervantes, Manuel Espinoza (Princeton), Liz Hernandez and Jorge Rodriguez (Williams), were the senior athletes honored. Curtis Parks received the Coach’s Award, and John Troughton received the Director’s Award.

“I thought it was another very successful Hall of Fame banquet, and I thought everything went per expectations,” said Vance Boyes, Colusa County Hall of Fame Chairman. “We had some wonderful stories that we were able to tell about people and athletes in our county. I think all sharing all these stories and documenting them for future generations to see helps build character in the community. I think one of the messages that we try to bring across is that even though you’re from a small town, you can compete with anyone if you really try.”

The event was well attended, as more than 160 people gathered to support their friends, family, and teammates who were being inducted or honored.

“It was really special to have the sort of crowd that we did,” said Colusa County Sports Hall of Fame Director Ed Martinez. “We had to go and get more tables – and while that was a little hectic at the time, it shows the sort of support this event has.” 

While the induction ceremony was the primary focus of the night, the Hall of Fame Dinner also brought together former teammates and opponents, coaches and players, and the athletes of yesteryear with the athletes of today. Williams High School’s head football coach and athletic director Dan McDonald – who was a guest of high school honoree Liz Hernandez – realized during the dinner that he had played with inductee Brent LaGrande in the Golden Valley Conference All-Star game in 1977, and sought him out before the night was over. 

“There were some other connections there too. It’s a small world,” Boyes said.

Luke Steidlmayer and Will Kalisuch sat next to one another and spent much of the night talking sports – with topics ranging from professional basketball to the benefits of playing multiple sports at a small school like Colusa. Around 20 members of the Crystal Dairy Woman’s Softball team – which was also enshrined on Saturday night – dined together and recalled their decades of dominance in the 1970’s and 1980’s. 

That atmosphere is part of what makes the dinner so special, organizers said. 

“I know a lot of people, probably a dozen came up to me before, during or afterward, and talked about how much they enjoy program and how important they think it is,” said Martinez. “Part of it is because they get so see people they haven’t seen for a long time, and it kind of reconnects them with their past. The atmosphere is great, and it’s something I’m really happy and proud to be a part of.” ν

Brian Pearson is the former Managing Editor & Reporter for the Williams Pioneer Review. Brian joined the Williams Pioneer Review in June 2016 and is committed to bringing hyperlocal news to its readers. A few of his projects included reporting local government and the sports page.