A special feature at Yucaipa’s basketball game last Thursday was Alumni Recognition Night when some of the top athletes in Yucaipa High School history were introduced at halftime.
According to 2011 YHS alumnus Carly Calbreath this is the second year of the event. There were 23 basketball alumni on this year’s guest list, up from last year when 14 attended. “We want to recognize people who are still in the community and let them see how the program is going,” said Calbreath, who later went to work for Amnesty International in New York after graduating from UCLA.
Calbreath explained the goal is to make the gathering a tradition and at the same time serve as a fundraiser. Chick-fil-A hosted Thursday’s fundraiser. Proceeds from sales of its chicken sandwiches at the game went to the YHS girls basketball program.
Among the former multisport standout athletes introduced were current YHS varsity coaches Amber (Cross) von Kaenel, Stephanie (Spoto) Landavazo and current girls assistant basketball coach Jennifer (Williams) Griggs, a 2011 grad who spent four years in the Marines. Williams later played basketball at Hope University, Fullerton.
Alumni Penny (Padgett) Lundgren and Elizabeth Petta were not located after the game. Both graduated in 1980 when federally sanctioned sports for girls was still relatively new. Also introduced was Niki Carroll, The Sun Newspaper 2001 Female Athlete of the Year. She made first team All-CIF in three sports where she held a number of school records and had her basketball jersey retired. With the exception of track, all-time records at YHS are not accessible.
Carroll’s versatility included throwing the shot put, sprinting and high jumps. She later played volleyball at UC Santa Barbara on scholarship.
“My school basketball records at YHS have been washed away.” Carroll broke the school rebounding record held by Renee (Hudec) Kavanagh who also had her jersey retired after her 1998 graduation. Hudec played four years at UC San Diego on scholarship and went to Boston College to earn her master’s in human development. She is now a clinical therapist for the Claremont Unified School District.
Leeann (Jimenez) Gonzales and Tricia (Wirth) Gregory were teammates of Carroll on Barbara Grainge’s 2000 Yucaipa San Andreas League championship team. After graduation Gonzales worked for the Job Corp and is now a loan officer at Financial 2000 in Redlands. Gregory graduated from Cal State San Bernardino with a degree in marketing and has worked for Coldwell Banker for 17 years. Gregory and her father coached Yucaipa Youth Basketball.
Amanda McGinnis (2008) played two seasons at University of La Verne before graduating from Long Beach State with a degree in art education. Rachel (Miller) Gilsen (2002) is one of eight siblings who graduated from YHS, where four of her sisters also played basketball. Gilsen played at BYU-Idaho, receiving a degree in horticulture landscape design and later attending cosmetology school. She is now married, has six children and lives in Yucaipa.
Other alumni on guest list: Marissa Holt; Courtney Coleman; Brittany Bay; Hillary (Orr) Rawlins; Danielle Cardenas-Thomas; Chrissy (Lee) Burke; Emma Lam-Zumbro; Adrienne (McCarty) Blasquez; Laura (Harris) Hendrickson; Cindy Swanson; Wendy Bell.