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Caltech Athletics Inaugurates Hall of Honor

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Inaugural Members of Caltech Athletics' Hall of Honor
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Credit: Caltech Athletics

Angie Bealko (BS '96) received a pioneer award for "student athletes who were involved as a catalyst for change within Caltech Athletics."

Bealko came to Caltech as a seasoned basketball player. She initially played for the men's team, but in her sophomore year, she says, "I recruited four volleyball players and put out a general call to the women on campus saying, 'If you know what a basketball is and show up for practice, you can be on the team.'" Bealko formed the 1995–96 women's basketball club team. Today Caltech has an NCAA women's basketball team.

Credit: Caltech Athletics

The coach award—for "positive impact on students and the community" and "dedication as an educator and role model"—went to Tom Gutman, head coach of the Caltech wrestling team from 1966 to 1978, and of the football team from 1968 to 1979.

Gutman has fond memories of his first year with the football team, when they broke a 34-game losing streak and beat UC San Diego 34–31. Gutman remarks, "At Caltech you have a chance—you have a chance to participate, even if you have never performed in a sport, and with the mentoring of the coaches and your fellow students, you can succeed."

Credit: Caltech Athletics

The 1969–70 wrestling team won the SCIAC (Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference) title outright. The squad featured four wrestlers who won the league title at their respective weight class, and five who finished as runners-up.

Wrestling is often thought of as an individual sport, but the captain of the winning 1969–70 wrestling team, Randy Lewis (BS '72), told attendees at the Hall of Honor inaugural event that their success was "all about teamwork."

Credit: Caltech Athletics

Fred Anson (BS '54) has been described as one of the best men's basketball players in Caltech history. His 1,199 career points stood as the school record for 43 years. Anson was captain of the 1954 SCIAC championship team and led the league in scoring during his sophomore, junior, and senior years. Anson is now Caltech's Elizabeth W. Gilloon Professor of Chemistry, Emeritus.

"I was coming to Caltech this weekend to celebrate my 60th class reunion, which went swimmingly," says Anson, "but this unexpected award adds frosting to the cake."

Credit: Caltech Athletics

C. Alan Beagle (BS '70) was a two-time SCIAC champion in wrestling and captained the team that won the league championship. He also earned football all-conference honors as a defensive player during the 1969 season.

"Many of us here were educated in a very special way at Caltech," says Beagle, "where it was okay to be excited about learning, where students collaborated, and where athletics were encouraged not to enhance the enrollment or the endowment or certainly not to help the cash flow, but because a sound and healthy mind and spirit reside in a sound body."

Credit: Caltech Athletics

Phil Conley (BS '56) represented the United States and Caltech at the 1956 Olympic Games in Melbourne, Australia, where he placed 10th in the javelin competition. During his time at Caltech he won the SCIAC javelin title three times, competed in football and basketball as well as track and field, and was captain of each team.

Conley passed away March 12, 2014. Accepting the award on behalf of Conley was his friend Bruce Kennedy, who shared a letter Conley wrote describing appropriate goals for a Caltech student, including to "broaden one's activities to include focused efforts across the street"—that is, at the Caltech Athletics facilities.

Credit: Caltech Athletics

Glenn Graham (BS '26) earned the silver medal in the pole vault at the 1924 Olympic Games in Paris. Graham captained the 1926 track and field team that tied with Occidental for the SCIAC championship.

Graham passed away July 19, 1986. Current track-and-field coach Mike Stevenson accepted the award on Graham's behalf, noting that, to this day, Graham would score fourth or fifth in an SCIAC pole-vault championship, though when Graham set his 12' 11-1/2" record, he did it "with a wooden stick and no landing pads."

Credit: Caltech Athletics

Lynn Hildemann (BS '80) won the SCIAC one- and three-meter titles in diving a combined six times. She was also on the Caltech swim team and started on the first Caltech volleyball team in 1979.

"I joined the women's swim team as a freshman, the very first year there was a women's team," says Hildemann. "There were six other women on the team, which is quite impressive if you consider there were only 40 female undergraduates on campus total. With so few women on campus, it was easy to become a multisport athlete."

Credit: Caltech Athletics

Fred Newman (BS '59) was an all-SCIAC selection in four of the five sports he played (baseball, basketball, football, soccer, track and field). Newman earned all-conference honors a total of eight times. After graduating from Caltech he established numerous world records in basketball free-throw shooting.

Newman passed away February 25, 2014. Fred's son, Lance Newman, accepted his father's award. "One of the things I learned from my dad," says Newman, "is that in Chinese philosophy, there's a yin and a yang, and that in athletics and academics, you must follow the same balance."

Credit: Caltech Athletics

Celia Peterson (BS '81) won the 1977 SCIAC cross-country championship, and then in 1978 set a U.S. record in the marathon (2:41.48) in the 18-year-old age class that stood for 33 years and was at the time one of the top 10 women's finishing scores in the world. SCIAC honors Peterson with an annual award bearing her name that is presented to the cross-country runner exemplifying great character, sportsmanship, and athletic ability.

Peterson passed away December 21, 1989. Peterson's brother and sister commented via video on Peterson's running career. Says her sister, "I remember Celia as my cute, brilliant little sister. I never really realized how accomplished she was as a runner until that 1978 marathon."

Credit: Caltech Athletics

Dick Van Kirk (BS '58) played basketball, football, and track and field for Caltech, and was named an all-conference performer eight times in three sports, and still holds the Caltech school record for long jump (23' 4-1/4"). At graduation, he was honored with the Frederic W. Hinrichs, Jr., Memorial Award for most outstanding member of the senior class.

"For Caltech's current and future athletes," says Van Kirk, "I want to remind you of the words that sent the ancient Greeks into the Olympic arena: 'Ask not for victory, ask only for courage. For if you can endure, you bring honor to yourself. More important, you bring honor to us all.'"

Credit: Caltech Athletics

Some of the inductees from the inaugural class of the Caltech Athletics' Hall of Honor were able to be on site to celebrate with friends, family, and Caltech athletics staff.

From left to right: Gary Zieve (BS '73), Angie Bealko, Ken Bickford (BS '73), Coach Tom Gutman, Randy Lewis, C. Alan Beagle, John Morton (BS '74), Doug Wood (BS '71), Dick Van Kirk. Zieve, Bickford, Morton, and Wood were members of the 1969-70 wrestling team. Fred Anson was also present.

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On May 18, 2014, Caltech Athletics established a Hall of Honor to recognize alumni for their athletic achievements. Awards were given in four categories: pioneer, coach, team, and individual. In this inaugural year, honorees spanned 60 years of Caltech history, from Glenn Graham (BS '26) to Angie Bealko (BS '96).

Caltech seniors were on hand at the inaugural event to tell their stories of competing at Caltech. Albie Lavin, a mechanical engineering major, says, "In high school, I was all about myself: how much time I would have on the field, how many hits I would get. At Caltech, I've really learned about teamwork. Caltech baseball has taught me to be a leader. Not to look to myself, but to my teammates and coaches. At Caltech, I played for everybody else, and everybody else played for me."

Rebekah Kitto, a chemistry major, echoes Lavin's sentiments, saying that "coming to Caltech really taught me to be part of a team." A tennis player, Kitto also went out for volleyball, starting the sport from absolute scratch. "Caltech teaches you that you can learn anything," says Kitto, "from science to a completely new sport."

The Hall of Honor was established by Director of Athletics Betsy Mitchell. As she puts it, "Initiating an athletic Hall of Honor at Caltech is an important step in our celebration of the value of educational athletics for young people. Caltech has a history of commitment to athletic competition, and that history is dotted with excellent scholar-athletes who can serve to inspire and motivate those who follow in their footsteps. Recognizing and celebrating this history has been long overdue. It was inspirational to be a part of the celebration."

Additional inductees will be announced in future years.

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