The renewal of the Tracy Sports Hall of Fame, and Saturday night’s banquet at the Tracy Elks Lodge to induct 12 new members, highlighted the place of local sports in the heart of the Tracy community.
The inductees and the people who introduced them told a crowd of more than 350 people about the coaches who guided them, the city that supported them and the way sports in Tracy shaped their lives and gave them unforgettable moments of glory.
About half of the 1982 Tracy High football team, one of two teams inducted into the Hall of Fame on Saturday, was on hand to reminisce about a time when nothing could compete with Friday night football for the attention of the city.
“On Friday nights, the town would close down early,” said Raymond Silva, one of the captains of that 1982 football team. “If you wanted to do your shopping, you had to do it early. At home games and away games, our side was full. That’s Tracy pride.”
He added that being on the team, which won the Sac-Joaquin Section championship that year, was a dream come true for him and his teammates.
“We grew up as kids watching the older people playing football on Friday nights — we were playing Pop Warner — and I remember thinking, ‘Man, I want to be on that field.’ It all happened back in 1982.”
Dean Hunt, also a Bulldog football team captain from 1982, said the city’s love for its team made all the difference.
“As a 17-year-old athlete in Tracy, everything you’re going through, you don’t realize how much help everybody is giving you from the community, your coaches and parents, everybody who’s taking care of everything,” Hunt said. “It really was a great place to grow up, and as you get a little older, you realize how much other people are doing.”
Through the evening, speakers ran through the names of all the coaches who had affected their lives.
“All the coaching in Tracy, all the coaches, were good people,” said inductee Brandon Dennington, a two-time state wrestling champion.
“The town was full of people who cared about you. You don’t find that everywhere. You can go all over the world and people don’t care about you like in this town. This will always be my town.”
One coach’s name that came up over and over was Don Nicholson, one of Friday night’s inductees and a Tracy High coach for 39 years. Fellow inductee Greg Reed, who played basketball at Tracy High and Sacramento State and also played baseball, thanked Nicholson for helping him realize his potential on the baseball diamond.
“Coach Nicholson took a guy like me who could throw real hard and turned me into a pitcher. I appreciate that, Coach, everything you did for me, so it’s very special to be here with you tonight,” Reed told Nicholson, who sat in the front row of the banquet hall with his family.
Former football coach Wayne Schneider, coach of the 1982 Bulldogs, added that Nicholson set the standard for other coaches through his dedication to Tracy’s young people.
“Don cared so much for his students and players, and in return they had total respect for him,” Schneider said.
The most emotional tribute of the night, which drew a standing ovation, was for Loyce Singleton, Tracy High Class of 1960, the recipient of 10 varsity letters during his four years at Tracy High.
His son Zach Singleton, joined by his older brothers Clay and Loyce Jr., said their father was modest about his accomplishments, which included a football scholarship to the University of California, Berkeley.
“It’s through all of you guys that I’m learning all of these amazing things about my dad,” Zach Singleton told the Hall of Fame committee members.
Though Loyce Singleton didn’t speak on Saturday, Zach Singleton said that success in the classroom, in athletics and as Tracy High’s senior class president and student body president set the foundation for his father’s success in life.
“As we saw with all of you guys..., you guys were good in high school, all of you guys went on to do great things in college, and you all are doing amazing things now,” Zach Singleton said.
Saturday night’s event was the first time West High athletes were recognized by the Tracy Sports Hall of Fame, which last inducted a class in 1990, three years before West High opened.
The 1997-98 West High boys basketball team and 1998 West High graduate Michael Oliveira entered the Hall of Fame. Oliveira, who was also honored for his role on the West football team, said the individual accolades also belonged to his teammates.
“I couldn’t be happier that they are here with us and that we get to share this together,” Oliveira said. “In a team sport, if you don’t have the teammates by your side, you don’t get the individual accolades or acknowledgements.”
Former West basketball coach Steve Thornton was proud to see the team, which went to the Sac-Joaquin Section finals in 1998, reunite after 16 years to take its place among local sports greats.
“I look around this room and know that a lot of people are Tracy High graduates, but this is one of the groups that put West High on the map,” Thornton said.
“West High has had some very good athletic teams, and it’s been a great competition, a great rivalry between West High and Tracy High, and that’s something we developed with this team.”
Tracy Sports Hall of Fame
Tom Hawkins, superintendent, principal, teacher and coach at Jefferson School
Albert Moreno, baseball and softball umpire
Gary Barlow, Tracy High Class of 1985, San Joaquin Delta College football coach
Don Nicholson, Tracy High football and baseball coach and athletic director
Brandon Dennington, wrestling, Tracy High Class of 1986
John Gonzalez, football and wrestling, Tracy High Class of 1981
Michael Oliveira, football and basketball, West High Class of 1998
Trevell Quinley, track and field, West High Class of 2001
Greg Reed, basketball and baseball, Tracy High Class of 1965
Loyce Singleton, football, basketball and baseball, Tracy High Class of 1960
1982 Tracy High football
1997-98 West High basketball
Contact Bob Brownne at email@example.com or 830-4227.