CV’s Hall of Fame Introduces Its New Class
By Brandon HENSLEY
It has been a year of sorrow for the CV softball program, but last Saturday night at Angeles National Golf Club, the Falcon community came together to celebrate.
Both the 1986 softball team and its coach Dan Berry were inducted into the CV Athletic Hall of Fame along with eight other athletes in front of friends, family and former coaches.
Berry, who passed away last October, was considered the architect of Falcon softball. He coached a total of 27 years at CV from 1983 to 2011 and his teams won 20 Pacific League titles, compiling a record of 570-117.
“Coach Berry undoubtedly figured out where his passion, abilities, personalities and experienced converged in his life and made the most of his 27 years as Crescenta Valley’s head softball coach,” said girls’ athletic director Peter Kim.
Kim shared a story from former player Kris Janitor, when Janitor was having trouble adjusting to the varsity level. Janitor would take a step back every time the ball was hit to her, so Berry one night had her position up against a brick wall and he hit balls to her until she was comfortable stepping forward. The lesson for Janitor was not just about softball, but about letting go of past worries.
“Coach Berry’s passion was to help people succeed in life. Not in softball, in life,” Kim said.
Berry’s 1986 team was the first girls’ team at CV to win a CIF title.
“When my girls, the swim team, won its CIF title in 2001, Coach Berry made sure to tell me, ‘Congratulations young man, but remember, we won the school’s first,’” Kim recalled.
One of Berry’s daughters, Jen Shaver Berry, a pitcher on that team, recognized her father was as touched by the community as they were of him.
“I just want to thank everyone here,” she said. “You were his family. We were his blood, but CV was his family.”
Eleven players from the 1986 team were present, including Janitor, star pitcher Heather Lindstrom and third baseman Lisa Tibbets. As they received their hall of fame medals, they turned to go to the back of the line and high-fived each other.
“If there ever was a Falcon team that belongs in the Crescenta Valley Hall of Fame it is the 1986 CIF championship softball team. What a team it was,” said Sam Nicholson, who was principal in 1983 when the school hired Berry.
Indeed, the Falcons that year went 24-4, and those four losses were by a combined four runs. They went undefeated in the Pacific League and had an 18-game winning streak. They defeated Woodbridge 5-4 to win the title.
The youngest inductee was Lauren Hawthorne, a standout tennis player who was All-CIF from 2001 to 2003. Her overall record was 216-16. Her coach, Tom Gossard, remembered when Hawthorne was an incoming freshman at a summer camp.
He joked she weighed about 50 pounds and that her racket was of no use. So the coaches watched her struggle, gave her a new racket, “and the rest is history. She became the finest tennis player that ever played at Crescenta Valley,” Gossard said.
“It’s great to be a Falcon, and all of this is one of the best examples why,” Hawthorne said. “CV athletics brings together not only the campus, but the community. If you’ve been a student-athlete at CV then you know the feeling of having an entire support team behind you.”
Harper was the CIF water polo player of the year in 1976, when he scored 128 goals. He went on to become a leading scorer for Long Beach State. He recently became interested in coaching, and that has worked out well for him: he was a 2009 coach of the year in the state of Utah.
Harper made it a point to thank his father, who passed away last decade.
“He was one of those guys that embarrassed us,” Harper said. “He was one of those guys that showed up to practice and watched. I never realized that I was so lucky.”
Steinbacher played nose guard for the 1973 CV football team that won the CIF title. He was part of a defensive unit that then-assistant coach Dennis Gossard said is “still the greatest defense in the history of the school.”
Steinbacher made the All-CIF defensive first team that year, when the Falcons recorded shutouts their first eight games. He went on to play at Glendale College and Cal State Northridge.
Zwart-Bell was the state shot put champion in 1978. She also was the CIF and Master’s champion that year and in 1979 she was again Master’s champion. She went to USC and became an All-American in the Pentathlon.
Sweeney was All-CIF and All-League in 1976 for water polo. The comedian of the night, Sweeney came up and gave the audience something to laugh about.
“First of all I’d like to thank Coors Light, Patron tequila, whatever else the committee members were drinking that night they elected me to this,” he said.
He also used the words “cool” and “awesome” in his speech several times and said it was a “killer honor” to be an inductee, displaying that he was indeed a product of Southern California.
Dr. Nada Kawar was a standout track and field and basketball player, and was the CIF shot put champion in 1991 and 1992. She holds the school shot put record, at 45 feet, 9½ inches. Kawar was also Pacific League MVP in basketball in 1993. She earned a scholarship to UCLA after high school.
Beer played two years of baseball at CV. He was an All-CIF pitcher in 1985, as well as league MVP. He pitched at College of the Canyons and then at USC, and was eventually drafted by the Chicago Cubs. He has been an assistant coach at CV since 1991.
Beer briefly played basketball as well, and thanked former CV basketball coach John Goffredo for instilling a better work ethic in him.
“What I learned from Coach Goffredo was how to work hard, never give up, do the extra work and it will pay off in the end … it allowed me to get to that next level both academically and as a baseball player.”