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From good to grand
Honor: Four PC standouts join elite class
Most collegiate athletes spend a few years playing the sport they love only to forget the glory days.
Athletics become a part of their past, something they rarely talk about, not to be rekindled again.
Not so for Trish Childress, Shirley Spuhler, Scotte Stokes and Robert Malseed.
The former Porterville College standouts crossed the line from good to great during Saturday night’s 16th annual Porterville College Athletic Hall of Fame banquet.
Childress, Spuhler, Stokes and Malseed joined a class of which only 78 have been bestowed the distinct honor.
“It’s a very special night,” said Rick Waller, fifth-year chairman of the PC Athletic Hall of Fame committee. “We look forward to the stories and the camaraderie of all the athletes coming back.”
First to accept the honor was Childress, a tennis player, who was presented her award by former coach Sev Garcia.
At Porterville College, Childress was undefeated in conference play and the 1971 Central California Community College Athletic Association singles champion with an 8-0 record.
Childress talked about how Garcia presented all of his players with white index cards before their matches. In between sets, Childress studied the piece of paper to make her competitors think she was reading a scouting report on them.
Although the card sometimes had nothing written on it, the game plan was simple: Try to get inside an opposing player’s head.
“[Garcia] taught me not only to come up with strategies and plans for tennis matches,” she said, “but for life. It’s a tremendous honor and it rekindles so many memories.”
Spuhler was next to take the microphone. Also an athlete who left her mark on the tennis court, Spuhler and Judy Forsyth won the CCCCAA doubles championship at 8-0.
Spuhler said she started playing tennis by accident. As a sophomore at Porterville High, the junior varsity coach came to her physical education class and recruited a few players to fill the team.
“I decided that if it got me out of those awful one-piece green gym suits we had to wear,” she said, “then I would give it a try.”
Spuhler is retired and lives in Lindsay with her husband, David. She still plays tennis twice a week at the PC courts.
“I enjoyed my time out here,” she said. “Coach [Garcia] was a great coach. We had a great team.”
Stokes made the trek from Brunswick, Georgia, to accept his honor. Stokes, an outstanding short-distance runner, attended Porterville College from 1992-93.
His 200-meter time of 21.01 was a school record. He also ran top times in the 4x100 (40.75) and 4x400 (3:11) relays with Robert Foster, Larry Harrington and others.
Stokes learned of his Hall of Fame achievement one day when Ted Ensslin, a founding member of the PC Athletic Hall of Fame, called him at work.
Stokes, the assistant manager of a finance company in Georgia, immediately drove home, crawled in bed and pulled the sheet covers over his face where he proceeded to mope.
“It took me off my feet,” he said. “I couldn’t believe it.”
Stokes said last weekend was the first time he came back to Porterville in 15 years.
“I couldn’t even recognize it,” he said. “A lot has changed.”
Malseed, who lives in Ireland with his wife and son, was unable to attend.
But former coach Tom Lionvale spoke on his behalf.
Malseed specialized in the 5,000- and 10,000-meter runs. At 37 years old, he is on target to qualify for the 3,000 in the upcoming Olympic Games.
All of the inductees said Porterville College played a crucial role in their lives.
“This was where it all started, right here,” Stokes said. “This school made me a man. The people I met are lifetime friends.”
-- Contact Alex K.W. Schultz at 784-5000, Ext. 1049 or email@example.com.