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COC inducts ’09 HOF class

1981 baseball team, Reisbig and others honored Thursday night

Posted: January 22, 2009 11:00 p.m.
Updated: January 23, 2009 4:57 a.m.
 
College of the Canyons inducted four individuals and one team into its Athletic Hall of Fame Thursday night at College of the Canyons.

With humor, emotion and humility football coach Larry Reisbig, administrator Al Adelini, golfer Susan Latch, basketball player Jesse Boyd and the 1981 state championship baseball team were enshrined in the hall’s third class.

The headliner of the evening was the 1981 team, a seventh-seeded squad in an eight-team playoff that survived a loss to upset Los Angeles Harbor College in the championship game.

Seventeen members of the team and head coach Mike Gillespie returned to College of the Canyons after 28 years to accept the honor.

“We just wanted to win more,” said Steve French, the team’s ace pitcher before the ceremony. “We didn’t have that much talent, but we had clutch hitting, great base running, great defense.”

French, who lives in Oregon with his wife and two kids, flew in for the occasion.

He acknowledged that he might not recognize all of his teammates.

“I’m going to walk into someone and say, ‘Who the hell are you?’” he joked.

The baseball team was honored last.

First was former football head coach Reisbig, who led the team from 1973 to its demise in 1981, when the program was canceled.

Since 1981, Reisbig coached at Pasadena City College, Long Beach State, Orange Coast College and Long Beach City College.

He mentioned the program’s demise and resurrection in his acceptance speech.

“I was sick and I think everyone else was sick,” Reisbig told the room full of people. “These people brought it back (in 1998) and made it better than ever.”

Adelini followed.

A counselor and dean at COC, Adelini was honored for his 30 years of service at the school.

“My wife told me one time, ‘I think you love College of the Canyons more than me,’” he said. “(I replied) at least I love you more than Valley or Pierce (colleges).”

Latch was honored for her courage.

As a 19 year old, she gave up golf because she lost her drive when her father got cancer.

Nearly a decade later, after having three children, two of which were diagnosed with diabetes, she led the Lady Cougars to their first Western State Conference title in 2000. She was named conference Most Valuable Player that year and the following one, a year in which COC captured its first ever women’s golf state title.

Boyd, the school’s all-time leading scorer at 1,266 points and 23.9 points per game, told of how he was cut his first year, but came back to become a man and a great basketball player.

“Coach (Lee Smelser) released me that first year because the truth is, I couldn’t be at Hart High (for practice) at 6 a.m.,” said, who played between 1973 and 1975.  “It was too cold.”

cosborne@the-signal.com

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