The Elite Eight, you could call them.
Gridders and cagers, sluggers and hurlers, spikers and setters, rowers and swimmers, all of whom achieved athletic glory, on land and in the water, with individual stars shining brightly but never substituting personal glory for the greater good — the team.
These are the teams enshrined in the Athletics Hall of Fame at Loyola Marymount University. Established in 1986, the LMU Athletic HOF honors dozens of individual players, coaches and contributors in a wide range on men’s and women’s sports, and likewise has rewarded the accomplishments of a select group of teams. Here they are, in order of their induction:
1981 Women’s Rowing (inducted 1986): The 1981 team was the first LMU women's program to earn a national title in a team sport: the Collegiate Lightweight-4 National Championship. Thus, team members Eileen McAndrew, Virginia Hamer, Teresa Rosso, Erin Walsh and Taffy Walsh, plus Coach Mike Priest, were the first team to be inducted into the LMU Athletics Hall of Fame.
1969 Football (inducted 2003): Having discontinued its intercollegiate football program years earlier, Loyola now competed in the National Club Football Association (NCFA), comprised of more than 100 teams nationwide. Coached by Jim Brownfield, the Lions finished 8-1, ranked No. 1 nationally and were named the NCFA's national champions. Among its 50 players, two — Dean Jelmini and Jamie Sanchez — are in the LMU HOF as multi-sport athletes.
1990 Men’s Basketball (inducted 2005): Perhaps the most famous member of this group, the 1989-90 Lions captured the heart of the nation as they overcame the sudden death of teammate Hank Gathers in the West Coast Conference Tournament, and reached the NCAA Elite Eight. Coach Paul Westhead’s run-and-shoot team, led by All-Americans Gathers and Bo Kimble, set an NCAA scoring record by averaging 122.4 points per game, finished 26-6 and were ranked 19th by the USA Today/Coaches Poll.
1986 Baseball (inducted 2007): The only LMU baseball team ever to reach the College World Series, Coach Dave Snow’s Lions finished the season ranked sixth nationally (even reaching No. 1 on April 22), set a single season record for wins in a season and boasted three All-Americans — Tim Layana, Chris Donnels and Billy Bean, all of whom played in the majors.
1989 Women’s Rowing (inducted 2011): Continuing the tradition of rowing excellence at this oh-so-close-to-the-beach university, the 1989 team won the Lightweight-4 National Championship on June 4, 1989 at Lake Wingra, Wisconsin. Coached by Lori Pawinski, the team included Mary Huffman, Katie Burke, Julie Hackworth, Kelly Farley and coxswain Jessica Perez.
1950 Football (inducted 2011): Nationally ranked during the season, Coach Jordan Olivar’s 8-1 Lions rallied late to win three games, lost only to Santa Clara (28-26) and sent several players — Gene Brito, Skip Giancanelli and Donald Klosterman — to the pros. Even more important than its on-field success, the team refused to travel to El Paso to play Texas Western when the University of Texas’ board of regents refused to allow three African-American Loyola players to compete in the game (a story to be told in a future issue of Angelus News).
2004 Women’s Water Polo (inducted 2013): It was the first LMU team in more than 90 years of intercollegiate sports to play in a title game sponsored by the NCAA, finishing second at the 2004 NCAA Women's Water Polo Championship. Teresa Guidi became the first women's water polo player to earn first-team All-America honors while Devon Wright was named Player of the Year and head coach John Loughran was Coach of the Year.
1996 Women’s Volleyball (inducted 2015): The most successful team in program history at 26-3, Coach Steve Stratos’ Lions reached the NCAA Sweet 16 after winning their third of four consecutive WCC titles, and posting their second straight undefeated conference season. In the Pacific Regional semifinals, LMU lost a close match to Washington State, but still ranked ninth nationally. Three players are also in the LMU HOF individually: Kim Blankenship, Tracy Holman and Sarah Noriega (a member of the 2000 U.S. Olympic Team in Sydney).
Editor’s Note: In the upcoming months, Angelus News will profile some of Loyola Marymount University’s most celebrated athletes, teams and contributors.
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