The Cal State Northridge 1967 Junior Rose Bowl Football team and former head coach Dr. Sam Winningham brought the crowd to their feet on Sunday during their induction to the Matador Hall of Fame.
The team was the main attraction at the then, San Fernando State, as they took on the best teams in the California Collegiate Athletic Association and finished second in the league.
Winningham, who started the football program and brought the team to their only bowl game in just five years, had nothing but praise and appreciation for his former team of 42 years ago.
“In deciding what to say today about my feelings for this team, I kept coming back to the phrase ‘Band of Brothers’. I think that’s what fits us. To me this describes what’s good about being on a football team and being a member and making contributions,” Winningham said.
Matador spirit ran high as alumni and former athletes mingled in the lobby, where some were seeing each other for the first time since they graduated years, even decades ago.
“We have people coming from all over the country. So, this is really a big event. It’s really an opportunity to showcase the history of the university athletics program and it’s a lot of fun,” said Rick Mazzuto, CSUN athletic director.
There was a significant number of students in attendance including Associated Students, USU Board of Directors, Sigma Chi Fraternity, Alpha Phi Sorority and many more volunteers.
“Being predominately a commuter based campus, we (AS) always like to make students feel more at home, make them feel pride in their alma matter so having events like this where we’re bringing alumni back to congratulate them and also to highlight students who are here right now,” said Connor Lansdale, AS vice president.
Other inductees included Priscilla Rouse Becker (softball, 90’), Terry Craven (baseball, 70’), Garret Noel (track and field, 94’) and Dorothea “Granny” Heitz ( CSUN’s eternal cheerleader, 69’). The voice of Matador basketball Bill Courtland was Master of Ceremonies for the event that hit a record of over 400 attendees.
A black hat with a red ribbon and bow belonging to the late “Granny” Heitz sat atop the podium left by CSUN President Dr. Jolene Koester to honor and show Granny’s well-remembered school spirit.
Many had to hold back tears during their speech while they recalled the good ole’ days and the many friendships they made and some that still continue strong.
During All-American Craven’s speech, a former teammate yelled out from the crowd, “there’s no crying in baseball,” after Craven said he told people not to let him cry, causing the crowd to erupt in laughter.
The event ended with the handing out of crystal footballs to the 1967 Junior Rose Bowl team to former players and family members for those who are no longer with us.