Three standout Occidental athletes have been named to the inaugural class of the Los Angeles Unified School District's Athletic Hall of Fame: Pat Henry Yeomans '38 in tennis, Sammy Lee '43 in diving, and Jack Kemp '57 in football.
ll three graduated from Los Angeles city high schools - Yeomans from Los Angeles High, Lee from Franklin, and Kemp from Fairfax. But it was at Occidental that all three student-athletes first rose to national prominence.
Yeomans is no stranger to halls of fame: she was inducted into the Southern California Tennis Association Hall of Fame last year. She won the national junior title in 1935, becoming the first woman to be awarded an Occidental athletic letter. She went on to sweep the College Girls Invitational in 1936 and 1937, and beat the No. 1 player on the Occidental men's tennis team several times. Over the decades, she placed first in scores of singles and doubles USTA national and section tournaments, wrote a number of books on the game, and helped bring tennis back as an Olympic sport in 1984. At age 92, she still plays competitively.
Lee, the national U.S. Diving Champion in 1942, became the first Asian-American to win an Olympic gold medal when he competed at the 1948 London games, then became the first male diver in Olympic history to win back-to-back golds four years later in Helsinki. He was inducted into the U.S. Olympic Hall of Fame in 1990 for his record as an athlete and a coach, having served as an Olympic diving coach at the 1960 Rome games, coaching Bob Webster to gold medals in 1960 and 1964 and Greg Louganis to a silver medal in 1976.
Kemp played football at Occidental for four years. An All-Conference pick in the Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference, Kemp was the nation's third-ranking small college passer and a Little All-American honorable mention his senior year, as well as a record-holding javelin thrower on the track team. He was named one of the NCAA's "100 Most Influential Student-Athletes" in 2006. After graduation, Kemp was drafted by the NFL's Detroit Lions but it wasn't until he signed with the Los Angeles Chargers of the fledgling American Football League in 1960 that his professional career took off. By the time he retired in 1969, he had led the Buffalo Bills to four division titles and two AFL championships in seven years and held all-time AFL records in pass attempts (3,055), completions (1,428) and passing yardage (21,130).