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Independent Voice

Hall of Fame Extends Athletic Legacies

Nov 20, 2023 04:23PM ● By Debra Dingman, photos by Debra Dingman
The Jim and Jeanine Cooper family are pictured with son Neil (holding his award) and Coach Tom Crumpacker below Neil’s large sports banner.


DIXON, CA (MPG) - Every wall of Madden Hall at the Dixon fairgrounds was covered with green drapes and lights substituting as stars twinkled across the ceiling. It was a grand night for Dixon High Athletics, as more sports record-breakers and a soccer team were added to the Dixon Hall of Fame.

“It’s not a class reunion, it’s more of a Dixon reunion,” said Martha Dukes, who was there with her son, Andy (Long) Rathbone, DHS Class of ’76, who already received his honorary green jacket as an inductee several years ago for wrestling.

Andy Rothbone DHS athlete 70s Martha Dukes

Andy (Long) Rothbone is a past inductee for DHS Athlete of the 70s Decade in wrestling who travels from Oregon every year to the annual Hall of Fame, and doubles the pleasure visit with his mom, Martha Dukes of Dixon. 


“I had 110 wins and was never pinned in four years,” he said, adding that wrestling was not as much of a sport as it was “an obsession” – he just wanted to win. He was inducted as Athlete of the 70s Decade at the 2018 ceremony and has attended every year since (less COVID).

“I come to this because, first of all, I get to see Mom, but I always see people I know and fellow classmates. It’s a great event,” he said. The large annual gathering included drinks by the Lions Club, appetizers, and a steak dinner perfectly grilled by the Odd Fellows.

The Hall of Fame is hosted by a group of dedicated volunteers on a mission to raise funds for the athletic programs at Dixon High School. This year, ten high achievers, a coach, a special contributor, and an entire soccer team were added to the long list of prestigious inductees.

Susan Haase-LaChance was there with her cousin Barbara Bulkley, Dixon’s Citizen of the Year. LaChance played volleyball, basketball, and softball and was on the team in 1980 - 1981 when they won the basketball championship. She talked of the strong loyalty to one’s hometown of Dixon.

“When you’re young, you can’t wait to get out, and then you can’t wait to get back,” she said with a laugh. “I’ve known some of these people since kindergarten.”

“Thousands of dollars are raised each year (from the dinner) and those funds have bought uniforms, equipment, and signs,” said organizer Linda Barrett who explained the group was formed to keep alive school traditions and to honor those persons who have excelled in one or more high school athletic programs. “We are trying to bring back the spirit of Dixon we grew up with,” she added.

Brett Peterson, who has served 11 years in Dixon Unified School District and seven of those as DHS’ athletic director, introduced the coaches and student athletes and said that the recognitions were not just about wins and losses but the dedication to the sport.

“We have 523 students involved in high school sports, which is half the student body,” he said. “Out of those, 215 made All League and we had two section championships. Dixon is a special place because of the way citizens of Dixon support DHS athletics.” 

In closing he drew a laugh from the crowd after saying, “If you can walk, talk, and chew gum at the same time, you should be in sports.”

A list of new Hall of Fame inductees:

Ed Seifert, Class of 1939, was a 4-sport athlete, participating in football, basketball, baseball, and tennis. In his senior year, he was named the Most Valuable Player of the Class A team. In football, Ed was known as the “powerhouse fullback” considered by teammates to be one of the best blockers and ball carriers. He also played tennis for three years, winning the league in doubles his junior and senior year with Russell Rohwer.  He was also active in Student Council including class president, vice president, and athletic manager for the student body. He supported Dixon sports his entire life, and his award was accepted by his son, Ted Seifert.

Warren Belden, Class of 1948, was also a 4-sport athlete with football, basketball, trace, and baseball. He was born and raised here and served on student council all four years and as president his senior year. During his sophomore year, Warren helped lead the Class B basketball team to become the Northern Section Champs, and the Class A basketball champs his senior year, the first Class A championship since 1923. Incredibly, during his senior year he was also part of the Class A Championship track and football teams – becoming one of the first Dixon High classes to win three Class A Championships in the same year.

Wayne Stark, Class of 1952, was another three-sport athlete: basketball, football, and track all four years. In his senior year, Wayne led the team to a league championship title along with Hall of Famers Farrell Funston and Alan Schmeiser. He also excelled in track in both high and low hurdles. When he competed at the Davis Picnic Invitational, one of the largest track meets in Northern California, he beat out top-ranked athletes in the state. He earned a Navy ROTC scholarship to Cal Berkeley and finished his Navy career as a pilot for Northwest Airlines. He lives in Washington.

Dennis Finney, Class of 1968, was an accomplished four-sport athlete and was the son of a college champion athlete and Hall of Fame Coach, Ira Finney. He started on 16 different teams, receiving 16 letters and playing in nine championships with seven of those led by his father. He was unanimously voted top punter in the league his junior and senior year, weekly Lion’s Club Award recipient, and was listed in the Examiner’s Top 50 scorers in Northern California in 1967. He played all four years in each of these sports and went on to graduate from UC Berkeley with a degree in English and teaching credential from CSU Hayward, and he received his Masters at Cornell University.

Les Cufaude, Class of 1971, grew up in Dixon with his parents Vesta (Schmeiser), who is in our Hall of fame as an athlete, and Dale Cufaude. He grew up playing baseball. In high school, he was a three-year varsity starter on the baseball team, serving as team captain and receiving All-League selection his junior and senior years. He was also selected for the Solano County All-Star Game his senior year. After high school, Les attended California State Fresno to play baseball along with Dixon High graduate Doug Elf. He became a real estate developer and builder in Colorado. Les also worked in the oil industry in consulting, exploration, and production in the United States and 14 foreign countries. He is the 3rd generation to be inducted into the Dixon Hall of Fame along with grandfather Vernon Schmeiser (2016) and uncle Alan Schmeiser (2019)

Daniel Williams, Class of 1982, was a two-sport athlete at Dixon High School, participating in football and wrestling. Daniel exemplified what it means to be a student athlete. He was not only a top student, graduating 6th in his class with a 3.8 GPA and winner of Outstanding Math and History student awards, he was a champion athlete. Through hard work and dedication, Daniel received 6 varsity letters – two in football and four in wrestling. He wrestled varsity and went undefeated in SCAL competition all four years. He not only won the SCAL wrestling tournament four times, but he also won the Delta League tournament twice, giving him six individual conference tournament titles which was a school record. He went to Colorado State University, lives in Dallas and has coached youth sports for over 10 years.

Neil Cooper, Class of 1997, was a track & field and cross-country star at Dixon High School. He started his high school track journey in the hopes of being a pole vaulter, but quickly found that he excelled at running. Cooper was a standout runner in cross-country, leading the team to win league all four years, ranking at Sub-Sections, first at Sections and making it to the California State Meet both his junior and senior year. He placed 8th at State his senior year, being the first Dixon High runner ever to finish in the top 10. He continued his success in track & field running varsity for three years, made it to the Meet of Champions his junior and senior year, breaking many school and meet records during his career. Most notably, Cooper set a school record in 800m running a 1:54 which he held until 2019, and the 1600m at 4:18, which he set at the Meet of Champions and still holds to date.

Kayla Riede, Class of 2009, was a star golfer at Dixon High School. She was a four-year starter and captain of the Dixon High golf team. She and teammate Michelle Bello led the Lady Rams to three CVC Championships. Kayla was voted MVP of Dixon High golf team all four years and CVC Conference Player of the Year three times. In her senior year, Kayla went on to place 1st at California Divisional Championships, 3rd in Sections and qualified for Nor Cals. After high school, she went to University of Tulsa on a golf scholarship, then in 2010, she qualified for the Women’s Amateur Public Links at the California Women’s State Tournament. After Tulsa, she went to the University of El Paso for graduate school where she received an MBA and was graduate assistant golf coach for the women’s golf team for two years.

Kristen Berryhill, Class of 2010, was a standout three-sport scholar athlete at Dixon High School. She played basketball, volleyball, and soccer for 3 years while maintaining a 4.0 grade point average. Berryhill was voted captain for all three teams, competing as a libero in volleyball, point guard in basketball, and midfielder in soccer. She was named All-Conference in all three sports and helped lead the basketball and volleyball teams to win conference championships. During her senior year, Kristen was named All-League in soccer, volleyball and basketball. She was also named All-League Honorable Mention in volleyball her sophomore year.  

Coach Tony Rico received a huge round of applause when called up. He coached soccer at Dixon High for 10 seasons, winning 16 League Titles and six Section Championships. He was a standout coach and athlete at DHS. His foundation came from playing the sport throughout his life and especially in high school. He played four seasons of soccer and was an All-League performer for three years at half back. He was named league Most Valuable Player his senior season. There were many seasons that his teams went undefeated and in fact, by many competitors, Dixon was known as the “Undefeatable Champions.” In the 1994 season, the undefeated team won the last three games of the season with only eight players on the field.

Del Luttges, Special Contributor, is the father of 2011 Hall of Famer Chris Luttges and the brother of 2013 Hall of Famer Jim Luttges. Del graduated from Dixon High School in 1956. While a student at DHS, Del was active in football, basketball, track, band, and served as student body president. He coached several Dixon youth sport teams over the years.

1981 Boys Soccer Team Co-Coaches Ed Eusebio and Bruce Jones and players Frank Alcocer, Rick Berger, Louis Castillo, Bill Corpening, Steve Corpening, Jim Kerr, Gustavo Lemus, Rob Lynde, Francisco Melgoza, Martin Rios, Nick Rotteveel, Nacho Villasenor, and Dennis White.

Dixon High Soccer in the 1980s, which was jump-started by the 1979 Hall of Fame Championship Team, was unparalleled. The 1980, 1981 and 1982 teams continued the rich winning tradition. At that time Dixon High soccer was known to be a powerhouse, winning league titles and making deep playoff runs year after year. And most notably, these teams were playing and succeeding as Division 1 teams!

In the finals, Dixon beat Bella Vista 3 to 1 to win the Championship. The team MVP Forward was Steve Corpening, the MVP Defender was Rick Berger and the MVP Midfield Player was Frank Alcocer. Alcocer, Berger, Corpening, and Martin Rios were also Delta League All Stars with Berger being named the Delta League Player of the Year. The 1981 team was the epitome of a true championship team – they were dedicated, hardworking and had a selfless “team first” attitude.

After the honorees received their awards, Linda Barrett thanked the many Hall of Fame supporters along with her sister, Dr. Sheila Barrett-McCabe, who presided over the evening. For more information, go to www.DixonHighHallofFame.com.

Dixon Hall of Fame

This year there were a dozen inductions to the Dixon Hall of Fame, composed of athletes, coaches, special contributors, and a soccer team. Receiving jackets in Dixon High School's color of green is part of the tradition.

 


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