Get fired up and be proud of the Gauchos

John Franz

How many people know that the Gauchos Men’s basketball team is ranked No. 3 in the state, or that the football team made it to the American Bowl last fall. Most recently, Lauren Molina is leading the softball team with both her pitching and batting skills..

The excitement of college athletics is at your doorstep. Division I schools get all the hoopla on ESPN, but what about community colleges?

At first, it surprised me to hear how many professional athletes attended a community college, let alone how many are alumni of Saddleback College.

Mark Grace attended Saddleback for two seasons, 1983-84. After playing for the San Diego State Aztecs, he went on to play first base in Major League Baseball for 16 years, first for the Chicago Cubs and then for the Arizona Diamondbacks. He is currently on the ballot for the MLB Hall of Fame.

Grace earned honors like most hits by any player in the ’90s and also the most doubles in the decade while being named to the Cubs all-century team.  He started the ninth inning rally against Mariano Rivera and the New York Yankees in the 2001 World Series where Grace attained his long-awaited World Series ring while gaining the respect and admiration of this writer’s favorite player from when I was three until today. He was almost drafted by the Twins.  However, the next alumnus mentioned chose that path.

Nick Punto, a 1998 Saddleback graduate, is currently a starter for the Minnesota Twins, playing third base and shortstop. Other MLB current players who attended Saddleback include Rob Johnson, currently in the Seattle Mariners’ minor league system.

After a short stint at Colorado, Colt Brennan dazzled the Gaucho faithful in 2006 when the team took the State Title. Where he then transferred to Hawaii and broke several NCAA records and was a Heisman trophy candidate. Brennan now is a member of the Washington Redskins.

Our basketball team’s most famous alumus is Anthony Carter who plays for the Denver Nuggets. Carter earned Orange Empire Conference MVP honors both seasons he played during the 1994-96 and 1995-96 seasons.

You just never know when it comes to athletics what you are seeing at this stage in life. Athletes who currently attend Saddleback College work tirelessly and train very hard while attending also attending classes.  I think it is us, whoever we are, that love sports as much as we do, should rally around our athletic teams.
As a former athlete, I think the crowd pumps an athlete up, especially if it is on your home floor. The students of Saddleback owe these athletes our countless support. Go to a game, whatever you fancy the most, I guarantee you will be thrilled. A lot of the spring sports are just getting started including baseball, softball, tennis, swimming and diving. The basketball season is winding down, where both men’s and women’s teams are in the hunt for playoff berths.

Get on down and see another aspect of college that may be hidden from current students, go see our athletic teams play. It’s worth the wait and plus in five – ten years, you may see one shining in one’s own right. Go Gauchos!

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