Oxy's Elite Eight


Fall13_Elite8

A closer look at the eight Oxy greats—four living, four deceased—who were inducted into the 2013 Athletics Hall of Fame

When Jim Mora '57 got the call that he was going to be inducted into the Occidental Athletics Hall of Fame, the former NFL coach "kind of got tears in my eyes," he recounted during the hall's second annual dinner ceremony October 18. "I was here last year for the [induction of the] first class, and was hoping someday I might get in."

Mora was one of eight Oxy greats—four living, four deceased—who were inducted into the hall this year. NCAA women's track champion Jacqui (Dent) Ivey '92 and NCAA women's tennis champion Jean Marie (Sanders) Szakovits '84 were also on hand for the ceremony on Bill Henry Track at Jack Kemp Stadium, while Alphonzo Bell 1895 (tennis) and track stars Percy Hagerman 1906, Fred Thomson 1910, and Cliff Argue '24 were recognized posthumously. Legendary coach and athletic director Grant Dunlap '46, who first donned an Oxy uniform as a student in 1943, was unable to attend.

"It's just the second year that we've celebrated our incredible athletic legacy like this, but you can feel the excitement growing," said Jaime Hoffman, associate vice president and director of athletics, who championed the creation of an all-sports hall of fame. Here's a closer look at this year's esteemed class.

Jim Mora '57 played Oxy football as a tight end alongside his lifelong friend, the late Jack Kemp '57 (whom he inducted posthumously into the hall's initial class last year) and later served as head coach for three seasons. In 1965, his Tigers beat Whittier at Patterson Field and went on to win the SCIAC championship. "Of the years I coached here and played here, that was probably the highlight," says Mora, who went on to coach the USFL's Philadelphia Stars to two titles. In his 15 years as an NFL head coach in New Orleans and Indianapolis, Mora's teams went 125-106 and made the playoffs six times.
 
Fred Thomson 1910 lettered in football and baseball for the Tigers, but the track was his domain: The summer after graduating from Oxy, he won the first of three all-around national Amateur Athletic Union titles (the others while he was a student at Princeton Theological Seminary). Thomson became a popular silent film cowboy in the 1920s before dying of tetanus at age 38.
 

Percy Hagerman 1906 was one of Oxy's first great track-and-field athletes. He captained the Tigers as a senior, when he set a College record in the broad jump of 23 feet 4.5 inches. At the 1904 Summer Olympics, the Hamilton, Ont., native finished sixth in both the long jump and triple jump as a member of team Canada. Hagerman (left, with trainer Guy White) was once named the Southern California Athlete of the Year and also Oxy's Athlete of the 1900 Decade.

Alphonzo Bell 1895 became Oxy's first Olympic medalist at the 1904 Summer Olympics in St. Louis—winning a bronze in men's tennis singles and a silver in men's doubles. At Oxy, the future developer and philanthropist ranked nationally in both ­singles (fifth) and doubles (eighth). The Westside Los Angeles residential community Bel-Air is named after Bell (shown with his wife, Minnewa, in an undated photo).

Cliff Argue '24 led the Tigers to three SCIAC track crowns and sprinted his way to a College record of 9.8 seconds in the 100. Argue ­competed in the 1924 Summer Olympics in the pentathlon and later served on the Southern California Committee for the Olympic Games, founded in 1939 after the success of the 1932 Games in Los Angeles. (His son, the late John Argue '53, was instrumental in bringing the Olympics back to L.A. in 1984.)

Jean Marie (Sanders) Szakovits '84 and her tennis racquet led the Tigers to four straight trips to the NCAA ­Division III nationals, winning a national championship in doubles in 1982—the same year Oxy won its first-ever national title in women's tennis—and a national singles crown in 1983. "Not only was she this incredible athlete, but she's really smart," says her former coach, kinesiology professor Lynn Mehl. "Jean Marie was a physics major at a time when not many women were physics majors." Szakovits, now a senior engineer with Northrup Grumman Corp., is currently working on the James Webb Space Telescope, which will replace the Hubble Space Telescope.

Jacqui (Dent) Ivey '92 M'95 stole the show at the 1992 NCAA Division III Outdoor National Championships, winning national titles in the 400m and 800m events and a third as the anchor of Oxy's first-place 1,600m relay team. She holds Oxy records in the 400, 400 relay, 1,600 relay, and the 800. Amazingly, Ivey was a novice to the sport when she arrived at Oxy as a freshman, on crutches, with a knee injury. Coach Bill Harvey '67 asked her to try running, "and I said no, I'm a basketball player," she recalls. "He asked me again, and I said no. He asked me numerous times. He saw something in me, even when I was injured, and I finally accepted the challenge." In Harvey's words, "She turned out to be the finest female runner in Oxy history—the first woman to qualify for the Olympic trials."

Grant Dunlap '46 was an All-SCIAC baseball and basketball player for the Tigers who would play Major League Baseball for St. Louis in 1953. In 1955, he returned to Occidental and coached the baseball and basketball teams, to nine and five conference titles, respective­ly, before retiring in 1984 as a professor ­emeritus. For all of Dunlap's ­success on the field and the court, in the final measure, ­however, "his players are his legacy," says Dick Dorfman '68, manager and statistician for his 1967 and 1968 teams. Dunlap, who lives in Vista, ­published a novel based on his playing days in the Texas League: 1998's Kill the Umpire, which he says he wrote in about a month.