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San Marcos High Pays Tribute to Sports Royalty

School's 50th anniversary celebration continues with focus on athletics success.


San Marcos High inducted 12 new members into its Athletics Hall of Fame on Saturday night during a banquet at the Page Youth Center. The 1998 CIF champion boys’ soccer team was honored as part of the festivities and the Syd Bassow Memorial Service Award was bestowed on longtime coach Dennis Kittle.


The keynote speaker for the evening was UCSB men’s soccer coach Tim Vom Steeg, who got his start as a freshman soccer coach at San Marcos in 1988 and in 2006 guided the Gauchos to the NCAA national championship.

The 2008 induction list included notable Royals Chuck “The Iceman” Liddell, a 1988 graduate who skyrocketed to international fame as the 2005 Ultimate Fighting Light-Heavyweight Champion; Jon Pryor, a 1985 graduate and three-sport athlete who earned a full athletic scholarship to UCLA, playing four years for the Bruins’ football team and serving as a starting defensive tackle and nose tackle; and Dawn (Price) Schroeder, a 1984 graduate who went undefeated in the 100-yard breaststroke in the Channel League for three years, went on to swim for UCLA and UCSB, qualified for the Olympic Trials in 1984 and 1988, and is the founder of the local Momentum 4 Life triathlon and running team.

The full list of inductees includes Alan Stephenson (1966), Mike Gorton (1973), Nancy (Hufford) Wagner (1978), David Henderson (1983), Schroeder (1984), Pryor (1985), Liddell (1988), Todd Tressler (1992), Dare Holdren (1993), Det Hardy (1996), Jenny Hehnke (1996) and Kara Warkentin (1996).

The evening also spotlighted the 1998 CIF champion boys’ soccer team, which went 24-2-4 that year and had a playoff run that included three shutouts and three overtime games.

Kittle, who has served as a football and wrestling coach for decades at San Marcos, was surprised at the announcement of his name for the Syd Bassow Memorial Service award. The award, which was established last year after the death of longtime San Marcos athletics booster Syd Bassow, recognizes someone who gives exceptional time and service to the San Marcos athletic program and its student-athletes. Kittle has coached many notable linemen out of San Marcos, including Pryor and current Cal lineman Alex Mack.

Among those participating in the banquet’s organization were the San Marcos Athletics Booster Club; Rob Barthelmess; Jan Campbell, Abe Jahadhmy and John Nelson of the event planning committee; Gloria and Carl Easter; Cara Gamberdella; the San Marcos High leadership class; the San Marcos High video production staff and adviser Aaron Solis; and the San Marcos High yearbook staff and adviser Helen Murdoch.

Banquet sponsors included McConnell’s Ice Cream, Mission Linen Supply, Pacific Beverage Co., Kevin Young and Berni Bernstein of RE/MAX, and the Santa Barbara Independent.

Cara Gamberdella is a member of the San Marcos High Class of 1990.


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