First time’s a charm: Notre Dame High starts its Athletic Hall of Fame with eight inductees in Saturday ceremony

Greg Goossen, David Kopay, Tim Foli, John Vella, Larry Deisinger, Gordy Ceresino, Lee Danielsen and the late Bill Stifter are the first inductees into the Notre Dame High of Sherman Oaks’ Athletic Hall of Fame, in a ceremony set for Saturday night at the NDHS gymnasium.

Athletic director and head football coach Kevin Rooney is among the 13 members of the Hall of Fame committee, headed by Charlie Perkins. The event, which begins at 6 p.m., will have Notre Dame alum Bill Seward, a sports anchor at KFWB-AM (980) and KNBC-Channel 4, as the master of ceremonies.

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Goossen (Class of ’64), a four-year varsity baseball letterman who also played two years of football, got in six years of a major-league career as a catcher, first baseman and outfielder with the N.Y. Mets, Seattle Pilots, Milwaukee Brewers and Washington Senators from 1965-’70 after he was drafted by the Dodgers. Goossen, who had his best season with the one-year expansion Pilots in 1969, was the subject of a feature story in the Daily News in 2009 (linked here).

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Kopay (Class of ’60) lettered in football, track and basketball, and accepted a football scholarship to Marquette. But when the university dropped the sport, he joined his brother Tony and went on to be an All-American running back at the University of Washington, playing offense and defense and scoring his team’s only touchdown in a ’64 Rose Bowl loss to Illinois. He then played in the NFL from 1964-’72 with San Francisco, Detroit, New Orleans, Oakland and Green Bay. Three years after his retirement, he made national news as the first pro team sports athlete to come out as gay. His 1977 best-selling book, “The David Kopay Story” continues to stand as ground-breaking piece of literature, leading to his becoming a leading public speaker on human rights issues.

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Foli (Class of ’68), a captain in football, baseball and basketball at the school and offered a football scholarship at USC, was the No. 1 overall draft choice of the New York Mets in ’68 — ahead of Thurman Munson, Bobby Valentine, Greg Luzinski and Gary Matthews — plus Steve Garvey, Davey Lopes, Ron Cey and Bill Buckner. He made his debut with the team as a shortstop two years later. The infielder had a 16-year MLB career with the Mets, Expos, Giants, Pirates, Angels and Yankees, and winning a World Series with Pittsburgh in 1979. He went on to be a coach with Texas, Milwaukee, Kansas City, Cincinnati and Washington.

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Vella (Class of ’68), another three-sport standout in high school, became a star offensive tackle for USC’s football team, drafted in the second round of the ’72 NFL draft by Oakland, playing on the standout Raiders’ offensive line in the ’77 Super Bowl with Gene Upshaw, Art Shell, Dave Dalby and George Buehler, and staying in the league through 1980.

Deisinger (Class of ’59) was the school’s first All-CIF player in football as a senior, also lettering in track, before joining the Air Force. Ceresino (Class of ’75) went on to be a member of the Stanford Athletic Hall of Fame for his career as a linebacker and played a season for the 1979 San Francisco 49ers. Danielsen (Class of ’62) was an All-American swimmers, breaking the four-minute barrier in the 400 yard freestyle for the first time. He swam four more years at Ohio State, where he was a two-time All-American, before joining the Air Force. Stifter (Class of ’62) was an All-CIF quarterback for the Knights who went on to play halfback and defensive back for the University of Washington. A cardiologist living in Seattle, he died in a plane crash in 2008.

In addition to the Hall of Fame inductions, Ron Renaud (Class of ’64), a long-time volunteer and a member of the school’s board of directors, will receive the Knight of Honor award for 2011. Previous winners of this include alums such as Admiral Mike Mullen (’64), the current chair of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff; Paul Sunderland (’70), a star volleyball and basketball player and now a well-known sports broadcaster; Terry Donahue (’62), the former UCLA head footblal coach; and Jamie (’83) and the late Maggie Dixon (’95), who went on to be successful major college basketball coaches.

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