Friday was an evening full of laughter and joviality at the Embassy Suites, where five new members of the Cal Poly Athletics Hall of Fame were officially inducted. The 2007 inductees are football legends Mark Davis, Burton (Bud) Chadwick, Chris Thomas and Dale Creighton as well as distance runner Teena Colebrook.
The event included a reception, formal dinner and induction ceremony, during which each athlete was personally honored and given 3-5 minutes to speak (although most spoke for closer to 15). Director of Athletics Alison Cone spoke briefly along with Cal Poly president Dr. Warren J. Baker before Master of Ceremonies Gil Stork took the stage.
Stork kept up an animated repartee throughout the ceremony and began by introducing current Hall of Fame members who showed up for the dinner. One by one, Stork asked the former Cal Poly athletes, some pushing age 90, to stand. When former wrestler Norm Gomes (who was a student in the late ’50s) stood, Stork quipped, “Stand up, Norm! Oh, sorry. I forgot about the elevation challenge.”
And so the evening continued with the light hearted banter that was enthusiastically received by the audience. There was a moment of silence to remember former Mustangs, followed by roars and a standing ovation at the introduction of the first inductee, Chadwick.
Chadwick played end for the Mustangs football team from 1953-55, lettering in all three seasons and starting every game. After graduating, he spent 1958-2004 coaching at several high schools and Santa Barbara City College. During the three seasons Chadwick played for Cal Poly, the Mustangs went 22-7. “It’s very touching to see everyone here,” said the clearly grateful Chadwick.
As he left the stage, the audience continued their show of appreciation for Chadwick, singing “For He’s a Jolly Good Fellow” and giving him three “hip-hip hooray’s.”
The next inductee was former Cal Poly distance runner Colebrook, who was a 13-time NCAA Division II All-American in track and field. She ran for Cal Poly from 1987-90 and still holds NCAA meet records in both the 800 and the 1500. “It’s wonderful to be back here in SLO-town, especially as I am older and slower,” said Colebrook to laughs from the audience. “If you wouldn’t mind giving me a four-year scholarship, I’m ready to come back!”
The vivacious Creighton stepped up next, a former nose guard for Cal Poly from 1965-68 and swimmer in 1967 and 1968. Named Mustang Defensive Lineman of the Year in 1966 and 1967, Creighton was one of only 33 in the country to receive an NCAA post-graduate scholarship. “I’m humbled when I look at the group of athletes over the years who have been inducted . how blessed I truly am,” said Creighton.
At the end of his speech, Creighton gave four thoughts worth mentioning, if not simply for their unadulterated optimism: one: “Dare to believe.” two: “Play any game, anything in life, with passion.” three: “Risk to live; and four: “Always have hope.” Creighton now owns Dale Creighton Farms, where he has been a cattle rancher and farmer for 40 years.
Next was Davis, who played as defensive back for Cal Poly from 1973-75 and held the record for career interceptions with 17 for over 25 years until last season when Kenny Chicoine took the lead. Davis is tied at No. 2 in the record book for having eight interceptions in his 1973 season. “I’m happy to be on the list with John Madden,” Davis said.
Davis received his bachelor’s degree from Cal Poly and then went on to earn his doctorate in exercise physiology/neural science from Purdue University.
Now living in South Carolina, he is a professor and director of the Exercise Biochemistry Lab at the University of South Carolina at Columbia.
Showing his loyalty to his hometown school mascot, Davis ended his speech with a “Go Cocks!” and, when it was met with nervous laughter, added, “In South Carolina that’s okay; I forgot I’m on the West Coast.”
Lastly was 1991-92 wide receiver Thomas, No. 8 in single-season receiving yards and No. 2 in single-game receiving yards. He was in the top 10 in NCAA Division II for kickoff returns with a 28.0 average. Thomas signed with the San Diego Chargers in 1993 and spent the next eight years playing for various NFL teams. He played in three Super Bowls, winning in 1999 with the St. Louis Rams (and yes, he is sporting the ring).
“In the NFL they have programs where you can get your degree. For me it wasn’t worth it unless that degree had Cal Poly’s name on it.” Thomas said.
He received a bachelor’s degree in English at Cal Poly and now is wealth manager with Merrill Lynch in Westlake Village, CA.
At the end of the ceremony, everyone in the Hall of Fame was invited back up to the stage for a photograph of the “latest version of the Cal Poly Athletic Hall of Fame”. The five new inductees bring the total number in the Hall of Fame to 92 individuals, a four-person relay group in track and field and the 1960 football team.
In an interview after the ceremony, Baker said, “It’s an impressive bunch. What they’ve accomplished, their feeling about the university; they are tremendous at life.”
The 2007 class was also introduced at halftime of Saturday night’s “Hall of Fame Game” against Northern Colorado in Spanos Stadium.