Yucaipa High School Hall of Fame honorees are profiled - News Mirror: Schools

Yucaipa High School Hall of Fame honorees are profiled

In celebration of the 50th anniversary of Yucaipa High School, the stories of remaining five of the nine honorees for the YHS Hall of Fame are provided

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Posted: Friday, May 1, 2009 12:00 am

KIMI WELSH

Possibly having the most decorated letter jacket of the 2009 Yucaipa High Athletic Hall of Fame inductees is distance and track runner Kimi Welsh-Schumacher, who led Thunderbirds to trophies from coast to coast. Before her marriage to Greg Schumacher, she was known as the Kimi Welsh who left footprints at every high school course she ran.

Prior to making Yucaipa coach Jim Clendaniel’s Cross country team, the 14-year-old Welsh was a soccer player whose grandfather convinced her that she would some day be an Olympic long distance runner. “I wasn’t 10 years-old when he told me that,” said Schumacher. After graduation, Welsh accepted a scholarship to the University of Arkansas, where her career was halted by a hip injury. Welsh transferred to UC Santa Barbara, earning a degree in psychology and later received her Master’s from Cal State Fullerton. She and Greg live in Aliso Viejo and celebrated the birth of their first child, Callie who is four and a half months old. Welsh is on maternity leave from her job as a marriage and family therapist. Kimi has recently resumed running five to six miles, three days a week “just for fun.”

Some of Welsh’s accomplishments at Yucaipa High, compiled by Clendaniel, include: four years All-League, All-CIF, and All-State; three-time All Western United States; two-time National individual Foot Locker finalist; member of 1997 Yucaipa national championship cross country team; school record holder in 1,600 and 3,200 meter races; three-time CIF champ 3,200 meters; member of four CIF championship cross country teams and three State title teams; led cross country team top-four national rankings in 1995 and 1996; During four-year career teams lost a total of one race; member of four cross country All-CIF academic championship teams; three-time state finalist in Track; member of two All-American relay teams in 1998; seven-time track and field league champion; 1998 Hubbs Foundation San Bernardino County “Female Athlete of the Year” (only second female to receive honor).

Clendaniel recalled that as a freshman Welsh didn’t come out for cross country until a month into the season and was still able to make All league, All-CIF, and All-State. “Kimi’s real strength was in her determination that stood her apart from most other athletes. During the race she was so focused that you could see it in her eyes. She wouldn’t back down in a race,” said Clendaniel, who coached dozens of All-CIF and All-State runners at Yucaipa High from 1983-2003.

“As a freshman I knew that Kimi had the potential to be special. She had running ability, but there was something else. Everything was new and exciting. She constantly surprised herself and the coaches. Each week the fire and drive became stronger. I was fortunate to have Kimi, a big part of the most honored sports class at Yucaipa High. This group of girls won four straight CIF titles and three state titles and were nationally ranked in the top-four three straight years with a national championship in 1997. To make a pun ‘We had quite a run to the top.’”

Welsh said her husband has only recently learned of her accomplishments at Yucaipa. She never dwelled on it until lately, when Greg heard of her hall of fame selection. “He didn’t understand it, then when he read about me, he said, ‘Wow, you did all that!’” Welsh said her Thunderbird teams were close and she has many good memories. She will be the matron of honor in the wedding of former Yucaipa teammate Jenny Petite.

“Coach Clendaniel always pushed us and he is a big part of my nomination into the Hall of Fame. When I first heard, I got excited, then I got speechless,” said Welsh-Schumacher.

Welsh continued her winning ways in her freshman season at Arkansas, where she made All-Southeastern Conference in track and cross country; was SEC Freshman of the Year; member of Arkansas cross country team that placed second at 1998 NCAA Division I Nationals; and member of SEC triple crown title team.

CORKY MILLER

Yucaipa High baseball coach Jeff Stout didn't really think that Corky Miller would become a major leaguer during his playing days for the Thunderbirds. “Through phenomenal persistence and a burning desire, Corky has continued his career in the big leagues,” said Stout. On the strength of his exceptional baseball and football season's at Yucaipa High, Miller is a first-ballot selection into the Yucaipa High Athletic Hall of Fame.

Miller first made the Cinncinnati Reds in 2001 in a career that has covered 12 cities and five major league teams. He was released by the Atlanta Braves this winter but was invited to the Chicago White Sox this spring as a non-roster player. Miller made the team as the backup catcher for Chicago manager Ozzie Guillen and is off to his best start of his professional career.

“There never was one point where I thought I wasn’t going to make it. I wasn’t drafted after playing at the University of Nevada but I still wanted to play,” said Miller. “I was at a family gathering in Yucaipa when I got the call from someone asking if I needed a job. I answered that I needed a job and what did they have. They said they had a job as a catcher for the Reds. I wouldn’t have guessed it,” said in a telephone call before a game in Baltimore.

Miller was the catcher for Stout’s two-time CIF championship teams in 1993-94. He was an All-League defensive back and receiver for Jim Taylor’s football team. Taylor said that Miller was the backup quarterback who could have been the starting quarterback on most team’s in the area. He was picked for the 1994 national high school football All-Star game in Hawaii. “I had a couple of options to play football and baseball and sometimes still miss football. I started playing baseball when I was seven and always wanted to be a baseball player.”

He said that the small town atmosphere of Yucaipa was important to his professional growth, that 95 percent of Stout’s team had been together before Little League. “Growing up, we all hoped to someday play baseball at Yucaipa High. Coach Stout didn’t make it just playing baseball. We were family. He treats it just like minor league baseball. He was no nonsense and I still come back to learn from him — his approach and love for the game. Winning those two CIF championships is still the highlight of my career.”

Stout said Miller comes back every year to work out with his team. “It’s been a wonderful experience for us. Corky’s been outstanding for our program. He’s not flashy but you’ll get his best every day. He made the right decision to play baseball. He can pick apart any pitcher and correct their mistakes. He’s probably got the best percentage in the major's of throwing out runners. His forte is behind the plate,” said Stout.

“A lot of people would have decided to quit after going up and down like Corky,” said Taylor. “He’s determined to be a baseball player, which is what I always expected. It doesn’t surprise me a bit.” Miller said that being a backup catcher who has moved from team-to-team, has not been an easy job and the key is to remain ready. “I don’t give up and take the good with the bad and put in my work.”

He continued, “Growing up in Yucaipa and being on the first ballot hall of fame is an honor. It is a big deal. One of the White Sox announcers, Ed Farme, asked me if I was in the Yucaipa Hall of Fame. I’m in now and it is very exciting." According to the White Sox website, the Millers live in Calimesa.

JIM TAYLOR

Jim Taylor successfully linked the formative years of Yucaipa athletics into the modern era. From 1974 until 2007 Taylor served as the school’s athletic director and for 25 years was the Thunderbirds head football coach — long enough to teach 65 sets of brothers and five father-son combinations. In both positions, Taylor was the longest tenured at one school in San Bernardino County history.

Taylor says a lot of good came from Yucaipa being a one school community. When he first came to Yucaipa in 1972 from his native Kentucky, there were seven sports, which were for boys only. He helped the program grow to 21 sports for boys and girls by the time of his retirement. In 35 years YHS not one player was cut off the football team, other than for disciplinary reasons. 

Taylor will be inducted into the first Yucaipa High Athletic Hall of Fame with three of his former players, Jeff Brown, Corky Miller and Alan Taylor. He was selected in 2008 to the Citrus Belt Area Athletic Director Hall of Fame and was the 1997 Los Angeles Times Coach of the Year and 1994 California AD of the year. His 121-117-4 record makes him the fifth winningest in county history. Taylor won seven league titles and directed Yucaipa to 16 football playoff appearances. On his watch, YHS won eight consecutive San Andreas League all-sports championships and was selected as the 1997-98 County Athletic Program of the Year.

Current boys basketball coach Pat McLeod quarterbacked Taylor’s 1984 team to its first CIF championship game. Tim Padgett helped anchor that 1984 team. Taylor’s son, Bob, was the quarterback for the 1989 team, the only undefeated regular season team and at 10-0, held the #1 CIF ranking and #1 seed entering the playoffs. Taylor’s other son, Mike quarterbacked the 1987 T-Bird team. “It was fun coaching my son’s. I tried not to be any different to them. It was probably tougher on them, than it was on me.” Taylor’s daughter, Laura was a standout at YHS in volleyball, basketball, and swimming.

Taylor’s calm demeanor helped the Thunderbirds through many a close game, numerous comebacks, and a 7-1 record in overtime games. It took Cajon four OT’s to break Taylor’s CIF record setting seven straight. In a 1993 playoff game against Artesia, the T-Birds were trailing 28-7 at halftime, but came back to win 35-28. “It was the greatest comeback I ever saw,” said Taylor, who coached about 1,000 players. Among some of Taylor’s early standard setters were Andy Anderson, Ron Wood, Rocky Cobb and Tim Matlock.

Former Yucaipa High track coach Jim Clendaniel remembered that as a naive rookie coach in 1980, it was Taylor who guided him in the right direction. Clendaniel said Taylor taught him how to work with parents, how to fundraise and the importance of proper paperwork. “I was thankful that I was given the freedom to run my programs. Jim would be there to support my programs for more than 20 years. The trust that we built during my coaching career at Yucaipa High was great.”

Current Yucaipa High athletic director Mark Anderson said, “Jim Taylor put his heart and soul into YHS and the community. He developed an ethical, classy, upper echelon program with excellent coaches who are even better people. My hat goes off to him and I am pleased to work hand-in-hand with him to continue the Thunderbird tradition.”

Taylor resumed his career with the Yucaipa-Calimesa School District in November, when he was elected to the school board. He said that serving on the board has similarities to coaching, such as requiring a tremendous amount preparation. “Both jobs call for attention to detail and  organization,” said Taylor.

McLeod called Taylor probably the most demanding coach he ever played for. “I say that in a good way. You always knew who was in charge because he was a true leader, who stayed positive and got the most out of his players. “You can tell how influential he was by seeing how many coaches he produced and how many have come back to assist him.”

Taylor is the oldest of four children. He played high school baseball and football and graduated from Western Kentucky University. He has been married to Priscilla for 43 years. They are grandparents to Ryan, Jake, Madisyn, Beau, Jack and Robyn.

DENNIS HARE

Change has been the name of the game for Dennis Hare. He’s lived three lives, going from star athlete, to champion pro volleyball player then transforming to a nationally exhibited artist. Hare will add another title on May 1, when Yucaipa High Athletics inducts him into its first Hall of Fame class.

Hare was an 1964 All-CIF baseball and basketball player and made All-State honorable mention. He was the Desert Valley League basketball MVP. In that year’s Inland Empire high school All-Star baseball game, Hare got locked up in a pitcher’s duel with Upland High's Rollie Fingers. Hare said he was sailing along until he faced Bobby Bonds from Riverside Poly, who broke the game open with a home run off his fastball. “Bonds hit that ball so far that I heard it still hasn’t landed,” said Hare.

“Dennis could jump, was long-legged, had long arms and was a great outside shooter,” said Hare’s former YHS basketball coach Kent Hayden. I didn’t know what to do with him as a junior. I tried using him as the point guard and finally moved him to the two-guard as a senior. It really opened things up  and he made me look real good. He averaged 27 points without the shot clock or three-point shot, or I don’t know how many more he would have gotten.”

After two seasons at San Bernardino Valley College, Hare transferred to San Diego State to play baseball. One day he saw a Aztec volleyball match and became intrigued by the sport. “I was losing confidence with baseball and basketball and quit. I became fascinated with volleyball and made the San Diego State team. In the Army, I made the All-Service team,” said Hare.

With professional beach volleyball becoming somewhat of a recognized sport, Hare teamed with doubles partner Fred Zuelich to win the first Volleyball World Championship held at the San Diego Sports Arena in 1974. They went on to win eight more open tournaments. “We won a trophy and a free dinner,” said Hare. Some European pro volleyball tours now have purses in excess of $7 million.

Hare was a 2008 selection into the Professional Beach Volleyball Hall of Fame, headquartered in Manhattan Beach, . He qualified for the Senior Volleyball Olympics where he won three gold medals from 1999-2001 with doubles partner Fred Featherstone. In 1982, Hare authored the book, The Art of Beach Volleyball. “Dennis started in beach volleyball before it got big or he’d be a millionaire,” said Hayden.

While on tour during the pro volleyball season, Hare’s curiosity got the best of him again while viewing an art exhibit. “When I saw Vincent Van Gogh my life changed right there. I was a very confident athlete at the time and had enough confidence to feel that I could become a successful artist.”

Hare has made a good living selling his artwork in San Francisco and New York markets, and many points between. He is represented by Westbrook Galleries of Carmel and will secure European representation soon. He said artistic success comes from name recognition and image and is very subjective. “I see a real correlation between the action in athletics and the action in paintings.”

Talent runs deep in the Hare family. His mother was an artist and his father, Fred was a member of the original Broadway cast of the musical, “Oklahoma.” Fred held a #5 world ranking in tennis and was a gifted sportswriter in the Inland Empire. “My mom and dad always told me that if I wanted to become an artist, than ‘go for it.”

According to Hare, “Everyone in life has a path. I decided mine would finally be that of an artist.” Hare’s studio is on the sight of his Mentone residence. “Dennis has worked hard at his art,” said Hayden. “My wife is an artist and is friends with Dennis, and so is my son, Mitch. He’s an outstanding artist.”

JEFF BROWN

As both the All-CIF quarterback and pitcher for coaches Jim Taylor and Jeff Stout in 1981, Yucaipa Hall of Fame selection Jeff Brown remains the school’s only Ken Hubbs Award Winner. Brown turned down a scholarship from the University of Idaho to play quarterback, instead traveled to Orange Coast College to play baseball.

After completing his LDS Mission in Curitiba, Brazil, Brown transferred to Brigham Young University where he played first base and rightfield and batted .406 for the 1985 WAC champions. He was the Cameron Tuckett Memorial Award winner at BYU in 1986. The Los Angeles Dodgers signed him and he quickly advanced up the Dodgers organization, but one game at YHS remains in his memory.

“We lost in the CIF quarterfinals to Santa Fe Springs, 5-4 in ten innings. I pitched the whole game and hit a home run to tie it. We couldn’t get that one run, darn it, we should have won that game,” said Brown in a telephone call from his home in Mesa, Arizona.”We had a great team. Some on that 1981 Jeff Stout-led team included Todd Petersen, Gary Kielhold, Dave Evans, Chris Brummett and Mike Baker. Brown credited Taylor and Stout for helping him accomplish what he did. “Both were great coaches who were very instrumental to me.”

Stout remembers that 1981 playoff game vividly. “There was no fence and after Jeff hit that first home run, the center fielder backed up about 400 feet. Jeff still hit it over his head, but the fielder ran back and made a diving catch. If there was a fence, Jeff hits it over and we win,” said Stout, who added that because of that game, all CIF final-four games must have a fence.

“Brown was a big kid, who was a left-handed hitter could hit the ball a long way. I thought he would go far. I thought he had a real chance. He didn’t get drafted out of high school and wasn’t recruited by a D-I school. I was surprised that he didn’t make the big leagues,” said Stout.

In football, Brown was also the punter for Jim Taylor, averaging 39 yards in his three years on varsity. He played defensive back as well for the T-Birds back-to-back San Andreas League champs. His 26 total touchdown passes are second in YHS history.

“I usually want to keep my quarterback off the field as much as possible, but I couldn’t do that with Jeff. He was one of the most heavily recruited athletes ever at Yucaipa. It wasn’t unusual to have six recruiters on campus at once. For a coach that's very exciting. The Brown family was a big part of the scene at YHS for a long time.” Taylor recalled one day Brown was late for practice and knew of the consequences. “I didn’t say a thing to him. He just started running his wind sprints.”

At single-A Bakersfield, Brown was a member of the 1988 California League All-Star team with Ken Griffey, Jr. By the end of the 1988 season, Brown was one step from the World Champion Dodgers, making it to the Albuquerque Dukes triple-A roster. Brown never got the chance to play at the major league level and never could find a place for his talent. “The Dodgers offered me a job as a coach but I decided to get my CPA Degree at Cal State San Bernardino and went to work for accounting firm Ernst and Young.”

While playing for the Dodgers Arizona Fall-League team, Brown met his wife, Debra, who he has been married to for 23 years. Their children are: Dale, 20; Demaree, 18; Danielle, 15; Jake 13; Jeremy 8; and Jaren 4. His six siblings all graduated from Yucaipa High and his parents recently moved to Utah. “Yucaipa was an awesome place to be raised and is still a great place to visit family and friends. I felt I had to raise my family in Arizona. My wife is from Arizona and housing prices were very reasonable. I made a good move.” Brown was a chief financial officer in the health care industry for 10 years. He has owned his own firm, Elwood & Brown, CPAs, PLC with offices in Mesa and Val Verde.

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