Monte Vista High School inducts seven Monarchs to Hall of Fame
By Mary York
Half a century of Monarch rule was represented under the softly lit patio at Sycuan Resort for the second annual Monte Vista High School Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony. The seven inductees were introduced at the homecoming football game on Friday night before accepting their awards on Saturday, September 10. They include a California State Wrestling Champion, an Olympian and one of San Diego’s “coaching legends,” along with several former students who have excelled beyond the walls of Monte Vista but returned to give back to the community that gave them so much.
“Monte Vista has a rich tradition and history of producing phenomenal, not just students and alumni, but people in the community who give back,” said Monte Vista Principal Randy Montesanto. “This is just one small way to recognize some of our alumni of Monte Vista. We think this is a huge honor. And a big part of this is that we want our current students to know the proud history of some of our Monte Vista Alumni.”
Monte Vista athletics, coaches and teammates alike, saved one Monarch freshman in 1972. California State Wrestling Champion of 1975 Mike Applegate said he was an at-risk kid in middle school, involved in drugs and illicit activities. Wrestling Coach Bill Clauder, also inducted into the Hall of Fame class of 2015, pulled the adolescent Applegate onto the wrestling team and the push was a life-changing one.
“It was the kind of thing that consumed me,” said Applegate who now sits on the Cal Poly University Athletic Director’s Council and the Cal Poly Foundation Board of Directors. “So instead of thinking about smoking marijuana or drinking beer, I wanted to wrestle. The guys who were seniors, they made me feel like one of them. When you’re a sophomore and a senior takes you under their wing and says, ‘you are going to be great,’ it makes a difference. And I felt that.”
Applegate said the Monte Vista wrestling team in the ‘70s was an excellent program that produced many great people and the school should be proud of it. The school, he said, is something the community should be proud of.
“I had so many second chances and third chances and I’m very, very grateful,” said Applegate.
His wrestling coach, Clauder, became the first staff member to join the Monte Vista Hall of Fame that same evening, in part for leading the Monarchs to 23 league championships and 17 CIF titles. Clauder coached wrestling at Monte Vista from 1968-2003 and over the course of the ceremony many of his fellow inductees included him in their thanks.
“I have a lot of kids,” said Clauder as he accepted his award. “I have a wrestling team that I put so much time into and it was so rewarding. I feel like the most important thing in my life is having surrounded myself with what I call the greatest kids in the world.”
Key to the newly begun Hall of Fame is the acknowledgment that many contributions to the school have been made by those outside the realm of athletics and the school has emphasized their desire to recognize those individuals as well.
Meg Pugsley Jacobsen is one such Monarch who is proud of her school and her community. Jacobsen graduated from Monte Vista in 2001, serving as vice president for her graduating class, and is now principal at Spring Valley Middle School. Although she was very involved in theater, Jacobsen said she never got into athletics.
“I was not a wrestler,” she said to the grinning crowd. “I did not like how they made you write your weight on your arm.”
But Jacobsen, and active member of Monte Vista’s theater community, said she felt privileged to be inducted into the Hall of Fame of a school she loves, thanking those who influenced her time at Monte Vista.
“It feels like such an honor to be in the same room as the veterans and Olympians who are honored here today,“ she said. “Great things don’t happen at schools by accident. They happen because great people who care about kids are there.”
Not all the inductees were able to attend the ceremony. Blake Lubic is a state trooper in Oneonta, New York. Lubic lettered in football, wrestling and baseball at Monte Vista before going on to serve in the United States Marine Corps. Lubic returned to Monte Vista to coach football, baseball, wrestling, track and field and Powder Puff Football for eight years.
“Many staff members are former Monarchs,” said Lubic in a letter read by Maribeth Bostick at the induction. “It helps string together generations of people who came from the same neighborhood and allows an older generation to connect with a younger generation. Once you’re in, you’re a Monarch for life.”
Also unable to attend the ceremony were inductees Julie Weaver and Mike Whitmarsh. Whitmarsh, a silver medalist in beach volleyball at the 1996 Atlanta Olympics, passed away in 2009 and his daughters, Jaden and Kendall, spoke on his behalf.
A drunk driver killed Weaver in 1998. The Julie Weaver Memorial Scholarship Fund at Monte Vista has given tangibility to her dream of helping others, awarding roughly $10,000 in scholarships each year.
“As a parent, you hope your children will grow up to be useful, productive members of society,” said Weaver’s mom, Sue. “So for us, this is just an extension of that because that’s who she was even early on.”
Ken Umbarger, class of 1965, represented first full-term graduating class from the high school. Umbarger has volunteered countless hours at the school through the Kiwanis Club and was crucial in organizing the school’s 50th reunion.
“I think this is a great opportunity to start opening people’s eyes to the great things happening at Monte Vista,” said Jacobsen about the new tradition, referencing the community members present at the ceremony. “Now we’re thinking about how we can continue the legacy and give back.”