There were tears and laughter Saturday evening when Monache High School inducted its second class of athletes and coaches in the 2nd Annual Monache Athletic Hall of Fame Ceremony held at River Island Country Club.
Inducted into the hall of fame were former multi-sport athletes Jesus Guzman (1968-1972), Kim (Goodin) Rafanan (1974-1978), Jim Short (1977-1981), and Don Townsend (1978-1982), as well as the 1991 Valley champion baseball team and former boys basketball head coach Rick Vafeades (1970-2005).
Current athletic director and head baseball coach, AJ Watts, thanked attendees for coming and commended the inductees on their achievements before introducing them with a video tribute.
First to be recognized was the 1991 Division I Valley champion baseball team who defeated the state’s second-ranked and top-seeded Bullard of Fresno in a 5-4 victory to bring the city its first CIF Central Section baseball title. Their tribute video included the play-by-play of the final moments of their win.
Monache’s road to a Valley title included a 4-2 quarterfinal win against Clovis West and a 15-4 rout of Bakersfield. The team went 13-2 in the East Yosemite League and finished with an overall record of 20-7.
Paul Begin was the Marauders’ head coach and Travis Fiori, Kurt Takahashi, Jon Farmer, Daniel Doty, Steve Cox, Brandon Vossler, Tony Emerson, Rusty Loflin, Curt Zimmerman, Brett Wingfield, Matt Jones, Dennis Watson, Eufracio Benavides, Scott Grimsley, Brett Bailey, Randy Montecinos and Armando Moreno were the players. Eight of the 17 players were in attendance for the team’s induction.
“I want to thank all of you guys for your effort and for your determination and for your ability to work together,” Begin said before addressing each player. “It was a sight to behold.”
Jesus Guzman (1968-72) made attendees laugh as he took them through the challenge of being just 5-foot-5 and playing basketball. Although Guzman laughed at himself and the way a fan asked why his teammate passed the ball to the “little guy,” Guzman’s talents on the court were undeniable. He played basketball all four years in high school and as a three-year varsity player had two second-team All-EYL selections and was named the league’s Most Valuable Player his senior year.
Guzman also played baseball and ran cross country for three years. In cross country, Guzman was two-time Most Valuable Runner and helped lead Monache to the school’s first-ever league championship.
“It’s a great honor for me, it’s something that I’m going to cherish for the rest of my life,” said an emotional Guzman in his acceptance speech.
Kim (Goodin) Rafanan (1974-78) came onto the athletic scene just as Monache began implementing Title IX rules that opened up more sports to girls that were not previously available to them, and made a name for herself in three sports, competing in volleyball, basketball and softball. Rafanan graduated as the Most Outstanding Senior Female athlete, accumulated four team MVP awards in basketball and softball, and was an All-EYL second team selection in basketball.
Rafanan’s competitive attitude was still alive as she finished her acceptance speech letting the attendees know, “I do not like to lose, still. I’ll beat anybody in this room in basketball at the kids fun center...I just beat a little kid last week.”
In his acceptance speech, Jim Short (1977-81) thanked God as well as his family and others for all that he had accomplished.
“It’s quite an honor and I really appreciate it,” Short said. To me it’s another testament to God’s vast capabilities, cause I didn’t give him much to work with.”
Short was a three-sport athlete who competed in baseball, football and wrestling. He received the Double M Award his senior year and made the All-Valley team his senior year.
All of the inductees thanked their families, friends and people who inspired them before rehashing tales of the old days in their acceptance speeches. Coach Rick Vafeades spoke of how he had his teams play “chaotic” basketball and thought he was going to get fired for it while Don Townsend learned early that in wrestling you could fight without getting in trouble.
Vafeades spent 16 seasons as the head coach of the Marauders boys basketball team beginning in 1986 and led his teams to nine East Yosemite League titles with a 107-49 career EYL record, a runner-up finish in the 1989 Valley tournament and a trip to the CIF State playoffs. He also coached cross country, baseball and track and field at Monache before retiring in 2005 after 37 years in education.
Townsend is noted as one of Monache’s most accomplished wrestlers. In his senior year he was a Yosemite Divisional and Valley champion, took second in the state championship tournament and finished with an overall record of 48-2. He also won the EYL championships in his sophomore (138 pounds), junior (145) and senior (155) years. As a sophomore he placed fourth at both the Yosemite Divisionals and Valley championships, while his junior year he improved to third-place finishes at the events. As a junior he finished the season with a 31-5 record and was a CIF State qualifier. He was also an alternate state qualifier in his sophomore year.