There are a variety of ways to tell the story of a community and recognize the accomplishments of its residents, and in Colusa County, one group of dedicated individuals is doing just that as they seek to preserve the area’s remarkable athletic tradition through the Colusa County Sports Hall of Fame.
The idea originated in 2002, when two Williams High School alumni, Vance Boyes and Wally Dowell, each outstanding athletes in their own right, decided to replicate the Hall of Fame concept that Dowell had seen in Woodland.
Boyes, a multi-sport star for the Yellowjackets in the 1970s who went on to play football at Yuba College and Fresno State, along with Dowell, a star in the mid 1940s and senior Olympian who passed away in 2015, then set about enlisting the support of others involved in the local sports scene over the years.
One person the pair turned to was Maxwell’s Bill Barrett, Sr., a fixture in the community, and from there, the idea became reality with the inaugural class being inducted in 2003.
While the committee has changed somewhat over the years, a core group that includes Ed Martinez, John Scheimer, Russell Gardner, Joe Pearson, Bill Barrett, Jr. and Gary Roper in addition to Boyes and Barrett, Sr. remain the trustees of Colusa County’s athletic history.
As Boyes explained, “We wanted to document historically the great athletic stories belonging to the county’s athletes and teams. Additionally we wanted to recognize the top senior athletes in the county as a way to blend the past with the present.”
Since its inception, 86 athletes have been inducted in into the Hall of Fame, with six more receiving the honor last Saturday, July 13, at the 17 th annual awards banquet held at the Community Room at the Colusa Casino.
New inductees Derek Lee and Barry Marvel from Colusa, Tom Marengo and Jeff McKinley from Williams, Maxwell’s Alfonso (Butch) Martinez and Eleanor Cain Mathews representing Arbuckle, have transcended the generations epitomizing not only the commitment necessary to become serious athletes, but the desire to become leaders as well.
The point guard on the Redskins’ 1990 state basketball championship team, Lee, a three sport athlete at Colusa High School, went on to excel in track at Yuba College and later at Stanislaus State in the early 1990s.
Accruing over 1500 points and acknowledged as one of the great scorers in the history of Colusa High School basketball, Marvel was equally as good on the tennis courts, yet stuck to the hardwood going on to play all four years at the University of the Pacific in the mid 1990s.
Teammates Marengo and McKinley are simultaneously installed into the Hall of Fame as they part of a golden era in Yellowjacket sports, where both played integral roles on the 73-74 North Valley co-champion football team and league champion basketball team that completed the regular season 25-0.
Martinez was a four sport athlete for Maxwell in the late 1950s lettering in football, baseball, basketball and track then after returning from a year long stint at Yuba College, embarked on a 20 year endeavor as a player-manager in both fast an slow pitch softball.
Forty years before Title IX Eleanor Cain Mathews was excelling in volleyball, basketball and baseball for the Pierce Bears then continued to participate in the Women’s Athletic Association at both Sacramento Junior College and San Jose State College, as they were known at the time. Mathews returned to Arbuckle where she taught physical education, became an avid golfer and now joins her husband Doug, a 2005 inductee, in the Hall of Fame.
In addition to the six inductees, the Hall of Fame committee also honored three others with special awards.
Receiving the Director’s Award was Mark and Sandy Ottenwalter, who were recognized for their more than 25 years of dedication to athletics throughout the county, while former longtime Maxwell coach and athletic director Tim Heck received the Coach’s Award.
Rounding out the program was the presentation of the county’s top senior athletes from the class 2019, which included Colusa’s Abigail Huskey and Connor Saso, Maxwell’s Cody Pearson, Pierce’s Sarah Vann and Matthew Tapia, Princeton’s Isabel Burgarin and Josue Sullivan along with Williams’ Lizbeth Aceves and Hunter Povlsen.