The 1984 Taft College Football Team, led by Coach Al Baldock, started the football season moving into the super Pac-9 Conference. Taft rolled through the conference, except for an upset loss to Golden West. The Cougars were invited to play in the 1984 Potato Bowl against LA Pierce College, the number one team in the nation at the time. After posting a 51-27 victory over undefeated Pierce, the Cougars edged out undefeated Gulf Coast Mississippi for the number one ranking.
The JC grid wire was impressed with Taft’s tough schedule, as well as its conference play performance. The Pac-9 Conference was considered to be the number one conference in the nation, and the Cougars dominated with victories. Seven of Taft’s eleven opponents had winning records and the Cougars outscored those teams by an average of 44.1 points to 12.3. Individual honors went to 15 players who were selected to the All-Pac 9 Conference Team, with Russell Marshburn selected as a First Team All-American. Others to receive All American Honors were: Link Aleaga as Second Team Defense; Honorable Mention Awards went to Randy Rutledge, David Davis, Cleo Miller and David Moffet.
Andy was a highly sought out defensive end from Houston, Texas, and with good reason. Andy played with great passion and intensity each time he stepped onto the field, leaving others in his dust. Al Baldock saw his potential, and recruited Andy to come play for him. The only catch was Andy had to switch positions: Al needed a center badly, and told Andy he would do just fine! Andy only played one snap as a center in high school, but decided to take the chance and roll with it; doing so was a great decision!
Andy was voted captain for the 1982 team that finished 11-0 as National Champions. He was voted All- League and All-State the same year, and was primed to gear up for the following season. In 1983, he helped the Cougars to a 10-1 finish and a spot in the coveted Potato Bowl. Andy was also voted as the unanimous MVP, was selected as an All-State Team Member as well as a member of the All-American Team. Even though those were highly regarded honors, Andy’s greatest accomplishment was being named a member of the JC Grid-Wire “25 Year All American Team” as a center, along with running back O.J. Simpson!
After graduating from Taft College in 1983, Andy went on to play at USC and was in the starting lineup on the 1984 team. He helped the Trojans gain a berth in the coveted 1985 Rose Bowl, where they defeated the Ohio State Buckeyes 20-17. Andy was then given an opportunity to play professionally for the Atlanta Falcons, but only played one year before an ankle injury ended his football career. Afterwards, Andy went back to school to obtain his civil engineering degree and has worked in the field for many years. In 1996, Andy was compelled to join the U.S. Naval Reserve where he served as Equipment Officer Second Class.
Although Bob has lived in many other places in his life, Taft is still where his business and heart are. Taft was a special place for him as it provided many great memories over the years. In high school, Bob was a great athlete, and found his true passion and talent in basketball. He played on the varsity team all four years and earned numerous accolades. He continued his career at Taft College for one year, and then was given a scholarship to play for the University of Southern California, where he played for three years while earning his Master’s Degree in Education.
After USC, Bob returned to Kern County, taking a teaching position at South High School. Bob stayed for two years, then moved to Shafter where he met his wife, Judy. Bob taught at Shafter for four years, then moved to Chula Vista, accepting a job as an assistant basketball coach at Southwestern College, where he stayed until accepting a head coaching job at West Hills College in Coalinga. Even though Bob loved to coach and teach, he wanted to try something new and ended up buying an old portable restroom service truck as a side business. Bob retired from teaching in 1979 to go into the garbage and portable restroom business full-time. Over time, he moved backed to Kern County and purchased Westside Garbage in Taft in 1983. Bob kept the original business back in Coalinga until recently selling it to Waste Connections.
Bob is a very community-minded person and is involved in many aspects of it. One of his favorite pastimes is public education. He stays involved with the Kern High School District and is known locally as the “#1 Cheerleader for Public Education.” He believes strongly in positive reinforcement for our children, saying, “If you tell them they’re good, they’ll be good.” He is one of the founding Taft College Foundation Board Members and has served as its only president since incorporation in 2002. Bob also serves on the Kern County Assessment Appeals Board, is a member of the Building Industry Association and Builder’s Exchange, and is Chairman of the Westside Economic Development Co. LLC. He has been recognized by Taft Union High School, Bob Elias and West Hills Athletic Hall of Fame for his success on and off the court.
Doug has significantly impacted many lives during his coaching and teaching career. Doug’s career at Taft College started in 1979 when he was named the head track and field coach, assistant football coach, dorm supervisor and athletic trainer. A hint to the championships to come became evident in 1981, when he coached the Cougars to a Small Schools California State Team Championship. He guided the track and field teams to six consecutive Conference Team Championships from 1983-88 and finished within the top three teams in the state each year during this same six year consecutive timeframe. In 1985, the Cougars won the California State Track Championship scoring more points than any team in history. As a result, Doug was unanimously named the Coach of the Year. He was awarded the Coach of the Year honor five times by California Track and Running News.
In the 1988 State Track & Field Championship, Taft College ran the fastest 4×100 meter team relay time in state history (39.01 seconds), a record that still stands today. During his tenure at Taft College, Doug’s coaching produced 25+ individual and relay state champions. His track and field teams set eight national junior college track and field records. As assistant football coach, Doug worked with Head Coach Al Baldock and other to guide teams to seven conference championships, four Potato Bowl wins, and two National Championships.
After 10 impressive years at Taft College, Doug accepted a job at Cerritos College in 1988 where he continued to have the same magnitude and success until his retirement in 2012. At Cerritos, he was named the California Track Coaches Association Coach of the Year for the third time in his career. In 2006, Doug was chosen as the head manager for the U.S. National Track and Field Team and guided them at the NACAC Under-23 Team, held in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic.
As head track and field coach, assistant football coach, instructor, and especially as head dorm supervisor, Coach Wells lived closely with the students he coached. Many of his former students have gone on to coach as well; others have become very important community leaders. Numerous students earned scholarships to universities to continue their track and field and academic careers, and one of his students, Brian Wellman, became a four-time Olympian and World Champion in the triple jump.
Dr. David Cothrun has been a distinguished administrator for many years, and has helped implement new initiatives along the way. He started his career as the academic dean of New Mexico Military Institute. Later, as president of Hutchinson Community College, he was recognized for his achievements in implementing a computer system that also served four local public schools and his focus on vocational training and service to his community. The West Kern Community College District smartly snapped him up as the president of Taft College in 1980 where he served until his retirement in 2001.
During his tenure as superintendent/president of the West Kern Community College District, Taft College and the Taft Community benefited greatly from his vision, dedication and entrepreneurial spirit. David’s commitment to the Taft College Children’s Center allowed it to expand and flourish. David’s leadership was instrumental in the creation of the Westside Energy Services and Training Education Center (WESTEC) which was founded in 1983 in response to the vocational training needs specific to petroleum and related industries. The organization continues to provide much needed training not only for the industry but as a path for individuals entering the workforce. Under his guidance, the Taft College Dental Hygiene Program was established in 1993, in partnership with the Kern County Dental Society, and remains a strong program today. And, the nationally recognized Transition to Independent Living Program was created in 1995, which provides education and life skills training for developmentally disabled students. The program is hugely successful with graduates transitioning to live successfully as independent citizens, most of which are gainfully employed and no longer dependent on social assistance. Among many other accomplishments, David also introduced Interest-Based Bargaining to the college collective bargaining process which has been highly productive and continues to be used today.
After retiring in 2001, David continues to be involved in the Westside community. David’s on-going service includes 35 years and counting as a Rotarian, member of the Taft College Foundation (which he also established), and a 13-year board member of the Taft Historical Fort. He is a cheerleader for Taft College and the Taft Community. He promotes his hometown every chance he gets, and never walks away from an opportunity to lend a helpful hand.
Dr. Loretta Garcia Lipscomb began her career at Taft College in 1975 as a library clerk. She moved to library technician and then in 1982 became the librarian responsible for research and technical services. Dr. Lipscomb also instructed Library Research & Bibliography, Psychology, and Computer Science courses. In 1990, Loretta became the first woman to achieve an upper level, academic administrative position and the first Hispanic administrator when she was hired as the vice president of instruction. Dr. Lipscomb retired from Taft College after 30 years of dedicated services.
Loretta’s dissertation The Effect of Faculty/Administrator Collective Bargaining Strategies on California Community College Climates became a foundation for her work as Vice President of Instruction. During her tenure, Loretta made many notable contributions to Taft College. Most notable was the introduction and acceptance of Interest-Based Bargaining to the College collective bargaining process alongside Dr. David Cothrun. Loretta was coordinator of institutional research and was dedicated to quality instruction and learning. Through this dedication, Loretta launched the Distance Learning program, accounting for approximately 40% of the college’s FTES. Loretta’s service to Taft College was recognized by Senator Roy Ashburn in May 2005, California Senate Resolution Number 751.
In her retirement, she continues to contribute to the Taft College Community. She serves as a foundation board member on the Equal Employment Opportunities Committee, Health Benefits Committee, Citizens Oversight Committee, and on the Taft Disabilities Partnership Team along with many community service committees.
Melody came to Taft College from Milwaukee, Oregon, after having a fine high school softball career. At Taft, she led the 1988 Cougars to a 38-13 record and was voted as the Conference MVP and named to the All-State Team. The ’88 team was the only softball team to reach the state finals. In 1988, Melody had 20 wins, 3 losses, 145 innings pitched, 7 earned runs, 180 strikeouts, and an earned run average of .39.
In 1989, Melody led the team to a 36-8 record and was again voted Conference MVP and to the All-State Team. In two years, the Cougars garnered a 74-21 overall record with Melody’s help. She maintained an earned average under 1.00 with more than one strike per inning.
In addition to being a talented athlete, Melody was also an exceptional student, graduated from Taft College with a 3.80 GPA.
Ron attended and played baseball at Taft College in 1986-87, and was a 14th round MLB draft pick by the Oakland Athletics in June, 1987. Ron still holds records at Taft College, most notably hitting 19 home runs in 1987! After signing with the A’s in 1987, Ron played eight seasons in the minor leagues with three different major league organizations (A’s, Chicago White Sox, and Los Angeles Dodgers). In 1991, he signed a free agent contract with the Chicago White Sox. In 1993, Ron was traded to the Dodgers, and in 1995, the Dodgers traded him to the Minnesota Twins, where he made his major league debut. Ron played six seasons with the Twins before becoming a free agent. The highlight of Ron’s career with the Twins was being named to the American League All-Star Team in 1999.
As Ron entered the twilight years of his major league career, he signed free agent contracts with the Chicago Cubs (2001), the New York Yankees (2002), and the Los Angeles Dodgers (2003). Ron had a major league batting average of .274, while hitting 92 home runs and driving in 449 RBI. Ron homered in 23 different major league stadiums off of 75 different pitchers. He hit his first career major league home run in 1995 off Hall of Famer Randy Johnson, a homerun that remains significant!
Since his retirement from baseball in 2003 due to several knee injuries, Ron has been a working member of the media. He worked for Fox Sports North for several years, covering the Minnesota Twins, where he won four Emmy Awards as a baseball anaylst. He is currently a color-analyst for WGN radio, covering the Chicago Cubs. Ron has great respect for Taft College and has been gracious with his time and resources in giving back to Taft College. Recently, he was the guest speaker at Taft College’s 2015 Triple Play dinner, which raises necessary funds for both the baseball and softball programs.