Athletics Program – Early Development

A photo of some football helmets and rib protectors in the locker room, taken back in 1974/75.

A photo of some football helmets and rib protectors in the locker room, taken back in 1974/75.

Physical Education was identified as an area of study in the memo to the Board of Trustees from Dr. Stephen Epler, the first President / Superintendent, on possible areas of instruction for the new college in October 1966.  And, of course, where there is Physical Education there is usually Athletics.  In the Board minutes Dr. Epler indicated formal program development would not take place in detail until a Dean of Instruction was hired.

The interest in the community about whether or not the new college district would have an athletic program its first year was clearly high.  The first Dean of Instruction, Mr. Carl Karasek, was hired on October 19, 1966 and reported to work on December 1, 1966.  This obviously prompted a call to District offices by the Argus, as the next day they published an article titled “Local JC District Setting Up Athletic Program.” (A-1).  Mr. Karasek was officially on board but the main source in the article was Dr. Duke, who would ultimately serve in the role of Athletic Director for the first year of classes.

Dr. Duke told the Argus the District was in the process of accepting applications for a physical education staff that would guide the college into “A full athletic program” simultaneous with the opening of classes that September.  He said this was part of the District’s attempt to present “a full college” right from the start.  He was careful to add that although applications had been accepted, they were not solicited.

Dr. Duke said when the new Dean of Instruction arrived the formal process of recruitment would begin quickly, once the Board of Trustees approved the positions to be filled.  He also reported the plan was to have inter-scholastic football, basketball, wrestling, baseball, swimming, track and other “major sports which most schools offer.”

That was quite a comprehensive list of sports for a college that had not hired any faculty or found any facilities for classes.  However, one can imagine District officials and the Board wanted to make the new college as attractive as possible for students.  This would be especially true for those who were going to, or planning to attend, other area colleges such as Chabot and Foothill.  The article delved into the Education Code as it related to student attendance at junior colleges and eligibility to participate in athletics.  The article concluded as follows:

Duke reports current thinking of the District is to plan for a school of 1,000 students on its own campus.  Presently some 1,500 Washington Township students have permits to attend Chabot College, and some 150 have permits to attend Foothill.  Some 350 other permits are scattered among various junior colleges.  Duke adds feelers have been sent to appropriate persons in junior college athletic circles on the possibilities of seeking entrance into a conference.  He reported… the school would have to play as an independent in the first season, but would have excellent chance to join a league in 1968.

In January 1967 the Board approved filling 20 faculty positions, including three Physical Education positions, two of which were designated to include coaching: one for football and the other for basketball.  At the same meeting the Board approved a Supplementary Salary Schedule Criteria for Instructors.  However, it was not without controversy.  One of the items in the schedule was coaches’ pay and this caused a division amongst the Trustees.  The actual schedule document has not been found in college files, but through Board minutes and Argus reports, the differing views can be sorted out.

Essentially the issue boiled down to whether or not coaching duties and pay for full-time Physical Education faculty should be treated as part of the regular contracted teaching assignment or paid as additional work outside the regular contract.  The common practice at the time was to have coaching part of the regular contract, which at the time was referred to as “release time.”

Dr. Epler recommended coaching be paid for outside the regular contract, which tended to be called “bonus pay.”  His argument was although most established colleges used the release time approach, it would be difficult for a new and small college to do so.  The release time approach would require additional part-time faculty to be hired to cover the teaching load of the full-time instructor during the season of the sport.  The starting budget for the college was very limited and it would be less expensive for the college to pay the full-time instructor the bonus pay than to hire part-time teachers to cover release time.

Dr. Blawie was a faculty member at Cal State Hayward (now East Bay) and Dr. Edmison worked there as Dean of Students.  Their orientation was the release time approach.  The other Trustees were more interested in keeping the budget under control.  Through a series of three Board meetings, involving significant parliamentary maneuvering, the issue was finally settled at the February 23, 1967 Board meeting in favor of the release time approach.  A provision for annual review and been added, which made it palatable to Drs. Blawie and Edmison.

In current times, full-time Physical Education faculty who coach have the assignment as part of their regular teaching contract.  However, it is not called “release time.”  Athletic team participation now carries academic credit for students and, thus, the coaching is assigned as part of regular teaching load.  If a part-time person is assigned to be a head coach for a sport (a common practice), he or she is assigned a teaching load (and must meet minimum qualifications) and paid at the adjunct faculty rate (which is much more expensive than the “bonus pay” approach).  At the next meeting, on March 8, 1967 the Board approved a similar approach for music and drama teachers.

After the final wrangling at the February 23, 1967 meeting, Trustees convened in Personnel Session at 11:40 pm and reconvened to Open Session an hour and 20 minutes later at 1:00 am.  In Open Session the Board announced the hiring of four full-time instructors including Mr. Richard A. Paynter, Physical Education.  He was also designated as Head Football Coach.  Dick Paynter was a physical education teacher at Newark High School and also athletic director and football coach.  Blawie publicly expressed her concern about the appointment.  She stated the junior college is committed to excellence.  She expressed a conviction that with the nationwide recruiting for faculty now underway, a person with experience and qualifications more suitable could be found.

With the hiring of Dick Paynter, the athletic program was officially underway.

Coach Paynter wasted no time in implementing his recruitment program.  As a locally established high school coach and athletic director, he was well aware of the various high school and college programs in the area.  An Argus sports section article (A-2) three days after his appointment to the position carried a banner headline, “Paynter to Talk to Every Gridder.”  In the article Paynter stated, “I hope to talk to every senior football player who wore a helmet last year.”

Although he would not be drawing a paycheck for his new job until September 1, the 35-year-old coach vowed to spend any free time he had available to explain to graduating senior athletes “the advantages of a junior college athletic program over that of a four-year school.” He added, “A two-year school gives a freshman and sophomore athlete a much greater opportunity to develop.  Freshman programs at four-year schools are much more limited than the JC program.”

Paynter seemed enthusiastic about starting a program from scratch.  “We’ll have to have kind of a pioneering spirit, but look at Laney College in Oakland.  In just two years they have an outstanding program and El Cerritos, a new school in portables, went to the Junior Rose Bowl in its first year.  I think a lot of kids in this area will want to go to this junior college.”

Several Fremont-Newark athletes including Rich Lockwood and Rich Baker from Irvington, Dave Avila from Newark and Ken Aro from James Logan had been standouts on last season’s Chabot College team.

On April 5, 1967 the Board voted to advertise for bids for uniforms and equipment for athletic teams in 1967-68 year.  On April 12, 1967 the Board approved the recommendation from the Student Advisory Committee for the official school colors: Forest Green, Green Bay Gold, and White as the official college colors.  On September 20, 1967 the Board agreed with the team nickname “Saints” recommended by the students, which would be changed to Renegades the following year.

On May 3, 1967 the District hired Richard “Dick” Walsh as a Health and Physical Education Instructor and Basketball Coach.  And on May 17, 1967 Barbara L. Walton (Knowdell), was added as a Physical Education Instructor, bringing the department up to three full-time instructors and two coaches (A-3).

In August Dave Russo and Rich Statler were chosen by Dick Paynter to be his assistant coaches for the first football season.  Russo, 32, had been a teacher and coach at James Logan High School for five years; while Statler, 24, had done student coaching at Cal State Hayward (A-3).

According to the Argus (A-3), the college had yet to identify practice fields, but had set up locker facilities on the temporary campus at the Serra Center.  The football field at Newark High School (Paynter’s prior employer) was made available for home games.  Practice was scheduled to begin September 1 (the “official” start date of Paynter’s contract).  The article gave a rundown of the first-year schedule:

Saturday, September 23 – Open (negotiating with Cal Ramblers)

Saturday, September 30 – Sacramento State at NHS, 11:00 am

Friday, October 6 – at Menlo College, 2:00 pm

Saturday, October 14 – Job Corps at NHS, 2:00 pm

Friday, October 20 – At Moffett Field, 3:30 pm

Friday, October 27 – at Santa Clara Frosh, 2:30 pm

Saturday, November 4 – At St. Mary’s, 8:00 pm

Friday, November 10 – San Jose State Frosh at NHS, 3:00 pm

Friday, November 17 – At San Francisco State Frosh, 2:30 pm

After only five days of practice, the Ohlone Saints football team travelled to West Valley College on September 8 for a scrimmage.  By this time, the team had found practice space at Walters Junior High.  The team had 23 players, which was expected to increase after several others completed physicals (A-4).

On the defensive line were George Vovodich and Paul Johnson at ends, Chuck Bist and Fred Remer at tackles, and Rod Morin at middle guard.  Linebacker starters were Dave Milburn and Grant Citer with Vince Conde and Jim Spurlin at halfbacks.  Five players including Bist, Morin, Milburn, Conde and Spurlin would play both offense and defense.  Steve Smith was the quarterback with Jack Coffey at halfback and Dave Avila at tailback.  At flanker, Spurlin was listed as starter with Vince Conde at tight end and Leroy Mendez at split end.  On offensive line were Morin and Jim Marshall at tackle, and Dough Lynch at center (A-4).

Also by this time, it had been set for Ohlone to join the Coast Conference in 1967-68 after the first year of independent play, which would include West Valley.  After the West Valley scrimmage the team was slated to travel to Gilroy for a scrimmage with Gavilan College on September 11.  The first regular season game had also been set for September 23 against the San Quentin Prison squad.

The Ohlone athletic program went on to include cross country, basketball and baseball in the 1967-68 year.



Argus Newspaper Archives – a number list of articles used for citation are listed separately below.

A-1 (12/1/66) “Local JC District Setting Up Athletic Program.”

A-2 (2/25/67) “Paynter to Talk to Every Gridder.”

A-3 (8/4/67) “Statler, Russo, Assistant Coaches”

A-4 (9/8/67) “West Valley Provides Ohlone Opponent.”