2023 Hall of Fame Inductees


Jim Anderson

Jim Anderson wearing a blue suit with a red tieBorn on February 23, 1947, Jim Anderson played football at Taft College in 1966 with Taft College Alumnus Dante Scarnecchia. Jim played football at Cal Western University and University of Missouri. He was selected by the Philadelphia Eagles in the fifth round of the 1969 NFL Draft.

Jim and Dante coached football together at Cal Western University and Southern Methodist University. Jim also coached football at Scottsdale Community College, University of Nevada Las Vegas, and Stanford University.

In 1984, Jim Anderson was hired by the Cincinnati Bengals to be the Running Backs Coach, a position he held for 29 years. He is the longest tenured Coach in Bengals team history.

“You learn in recruiting that guys can select the good, the better, and the best. You always wanted to be one of the best,” Anderson said. “You’re not only going to represent your team, but you’re going to represent yourself and your family.”

 Jim continued, “My dad taught me years ago that two of the things you value are your name and your family. How you present yourself and represent yourself. And out in the real world you represent yourself through your work ethic and how you conduct yourself. You never know who is watching you.” 

One of the first minority coaches, Jim mentored several minority coaches around the league. He said, “There weren’t a lot of us, but we realized we needed to go out and do our job the best we could so the door is open for the next guy.”

Jim Anderson is considered to be one of the best Running Backs Coaches in the history of the NFL. He beat prostate cancer in 2007 and retired in 2013. He has been married to Marsha, a retired Teacher and Administrator, for over 50 years. Jim and Marsha live in Cincinnati where Jim serves as a mentor to students in the Cincinnati Public Schools. 

Dr. John Bitzer

Dr John Blitzer, photo taken from his right profile. He has a pipe in his mouth and he appears to be smiling broadly.Family and sports were the great loves of Dr. John Bitzer’s life, and he tried to spend as much time as possible around each. In 2006, John passed away of natural causes at 75 years old.

Born in Indiana, Dr. John “Doc” Bitzer practiced medicine in Taft for 42 years and worked as the team doctor at Taft Union High School and Taft College. He was such a fan of athletes that he wouldn’t take a penny for their care. 

“He was doing it when I came to Taft Union High School in 1970,” said John Patterson, a TUHS athletic trainer. “He was so compassionate. I don’t know how many times he would take care of an athlete or other person and not even send a bill.” 

Dr. Bitzer used his influence with local physicians and convinced them to charge only token fees for athletes’ physical exams. Taft Union High School Athletic Director Larry Brown said, “We had a lot of kids whose families couldn’t afford to pay for their physicals. He got the doctors to agree to a token amount, $10 or $15.” They were still doing that in 2006.

Daughter Renee Bitzer Hill said, “You don’t know how much dad loved this football team. Dad would bring football [players] home to stay with us, if needed. We had players over for dinner every night during that time. It’s just what we did back then. My teenage years were filled with pretty damn cute football players in the house that we weren’t allowed to get near! One player is an ‘honorary brother.’ He said he would never leave, and we still have regular contact with him today. He was just out for the Super Bowl!”

1942 Taft College Alumnus Pete Gianopulos wrote an article for The Taft Newsletter on Dr. Johnson, Dr. Bitzer’s business partner. One newsletter reader, Richard Waldner, commented, “My mother, Maxine, worked for both Dr. Johnson and Dr. Bitzer for over 30 years. They don’t make heroes like these men every year. I can distinctly remember returning from Vietnam and sitting in his office waiting for treatment for the flu. He took the time to hear about my experiences and make no mistake I had the same confidence in him as I did in my own father. If there is a First-Class seat in Heaven, both of these doctors should have Head-of-the-Line privileges.”  

Dr. Bitzer was a veteran of the United State Air Force. In Taft, he became an active member of the First United Methodist Church and the California Medical Society. Married to Harriette Bitzer, the Bitzers have five children and 16 grandchildren.

Robert Foster

Robert Foster wearing a blue shirt with the Adidas logo and an FPU Track and Field logo. He has a wife smile on his face.Born July 12, 1970, Robert Foster is a Jamaican track and field athlete who immigrated to the United States at 13 years old. Foster attended Copiague High School in New York.

The defending champion in the long jump at Copiague, Robert Foster had just fouled on his first two jumps in the state finals. The leader had already jumped over 24’, three inches further than Foster’s personal best. The state title looked out of reach for the future Olympian. At that point, another athlete walked up to Foster and relayed some advice from the coach from Riverhead: ‘Move your steps back by a full foot.’ The coach who came up with that dramatic change was state long jump record holder Greg Flippen, also a member of the Copiague High School Hall of Fame (24’ 7.5”, 1971). Rob moved his steps back and popped a monstrous jump (24’ 4”) to defend his long jumping title. 

After the competition, Foster thanked Flippen for his advice. Later that day, Flippen presented Foster with a gold medal on the awards podium. Flippen commented, “When I saw him go, I thought, oh no, there goes my record.” While Flippen retained the record, Foster went onto an exciting collegiate and Olympic career. On the biggest stage in the world, he used his jumping talents in the 110m hurdles and made both Copiague High School and his native Jamaica proud with a top-10 performance.

After high school, Foster attended Taft College where he was a member of the 1990 State Championship Track and Field Team. He scored Conference, NorCal, and State Championship points in the long jump and triple jump, was NorCal Champion in the 110mHH, and a member of the State Championship 4x400m relay team. Next, Robert went to Fresno State University where he was twice a Division I National Champion in 1994, winning both the indoor 55mH in time of 7.11 FAT and the outdoor 110mH in 13.53 FAT. 

Upon graduating from Fresno State University, Foster represented his home country of Jamaica at various international competitions. His first international competition was the 1995 Outdoor World Championships in Goteborg Sweden, where he placed 11th while posting a personal best of 13.49 FAT. After that, Robert won the 1996 Jamaican National championship in 13.50 FAT, earning the right to represent Jamaica in the 1996 Atlanta Olympic Games. There he made the semi-finals and recorded the 10th fastest time overall, equaling his best time of 13.49 FAT. Again in 2000, Foster won the Jamaican National Championship in a time of 13.59 FAT to qualify for his second Olympic Games in Sydney.

Following his athletic career, he took up coaching first at Annapolis High School, Dearborn Heights, Michigan and then returned to Fresno State University. Now in his eighth season at Fresno Pacific University, he has coached women sprinters to school records in the 100m, 200m, 400m, 100m hurdles, 400m hurdles, 4x100m relay and 4x400m relay in his first three seasons. 

On the men's side, there have been additions to the all-time top ten list in all of these events, as well as a school record in the 4x400m relay.

In 2018, he coached Brie Courseault (200m, 400m) to two All-American honors, and Cathrin Wicke (400m hurdles) to an All-American honor.

Cheryl Gibson

Cheryl Lynn GibsonBorn in Taft on July 23, 1951, Cheryl Lynn Gibson was raised in Taft and graduated from Taft Union High School. She passed away on May 22, 2006, at her home in Taft.

Cheryl worked at Taft College for 23 years in the food service department and worked her way up to the position of Director. She was well known for her creative menus and food displays at Taft College events and mentoring student workers interested in food service industry careers.

She cheerfully accommodated the food service requests of several campus departments and volunteered to provide food services for Superintendent/President Dr. David Cothrun’s Digital Equipment Corporation (DEC) technology presentations that drew attendees from colleges 
all over the country. Cheryl also provided meal services for fundraising events to benefit the Transition to Independent Living (TIL) Program, as well as awards ceremonies directed by Athletic Director Kanoe Bandy.

In addition, Cheryl and her food services team provided catering for Community of Taft events held on and off the Taft College campus. These special events included a health fair and various dinners to which the public was invited, including one memorable night when she served her delicious enchiladas. Events held at The Historic Fort in Taft were also catered by Cheryl and her food services team.

Those who knew Cheryl knew she had a big heart. She would provide food services for Taft College students during holidays when some students were unable to travel back home. 
Cheryl’s son, Mark, asked her why she treated every student who comes to Taft College as if 
they were her own. Cheryl responded, “Well, if my brother or I went off to a school far away from home, I hope that someone would do the same for us so we would not feel lost or lonely.”

Due to Cheryl’s hard work, desire to please others, and creative culinary expertise, Taft College gained a solid reputation for providing great food services at campus and community events, business presentations, and celebratory dinners.

1988 Softball Team

The Bandy's standing on either site of the 1998 Softball Team. They are outside, standing in 2 rows with a large green tree in the background. They are propping up a sign that says California Community College Softball Championships, Taft College Hayward, California.The 1988 Taft College Women’s Softball Team made it to the Final Eight State Championship in Hayward, California. Their overall record was 36-8. The Taft College Women’s Softball Head Coach was Don Bandy and Assistant Coach was Kanoe Bandy. Meet the 1988 Team: Pitcher Melody Stanley, Catcher Tracy Nobiletti, Outfielder/Catcher Kristine Shirley, First Base Jeni Hildebrand, Outfielder Leslie Peyton, Third Base/Backup Pitcher Leslie Shepard, Second Base Raquel Barker, Outfielder Tina Anderson, Infielder Terry Brown, and Shortstop Dayna Akin.  

Their Central Valley Conference record was 18-2. The Cougars won the six-team Taft Tournament with wins over Merced College, Citrus College, and College of the Canyons. The Softball Team also won the College of the Sequoias 24-team double elimination Easter Tournament with five straight wins over El Camino College, Cypress College, Santiago Canyon College, Moorpark College, and El Camino College again in the Championship game. With a win over College of the Sequoias, the Taft College Softball Team clinched the Central Valley Conference Championship. 

The Taft College Softball Team was seeded fourth out of 16 in the NorCal Tournament. But they swept American River College and went to the State Championships in Hayward, California with just one pitcher, Melody Stanley. The Cougars faced an uphill battle against seven other Softball teams. 

Making their first appearance in the State Championships, the Taft College Softball Team was eliminated in two games, losing 3-0 to Fullerton College, going 12 innings against San Diego Mesa before losing 1-0 and falling from the double elimination tournament. According to Head Coach Don Bandy, left fielder Leslie Payton injured her ankle before the game but was left in the lineup because the team only had 10 players. A ball hit by a San Diego Mesa College player slipped by Payton and down the left field line. “Realistically, we didn’t have enough depth to win the state tournament,” he noted. “You’ve got to go in with more than 10 girls.”   

Taft College Softball Team started the season with 14 players and ended up at the State Championships with just 10 players. Always digging deep, Taft College gave their all until the end. 

1990 State Championship Track Team


The 1990 State Championship Track Team in 3 rows. Sitting on green grass with large green trees in the background.The 1990 Taft College Track Team won the California State Track and Field Championship at Santa Barbara over Long Beach, 96-90.

Under Head Coach Jeff Chudy, Throws Coach Don Crow, and Distance Coach Craig Johnson, the 1990 Taft College Track Team were Coast Valley Conference Track and Field Champions, and Northern California Track and Field Champions prior to winning the State Championship.

The 1990 Taft College Track Team included 18 student-athletes (in alpha order):

Michael Cheney—400 Hurdles 51.99, #6 Taft College All-Time

Robert Foster—110 High Hurdles 13.89, #2 Taft College All-Time; Long Jump 25’ 2.5”, #2 Taft College All-Time; Two-Time Olympian for Jamaica; 13:49 Personal Best; Two-Time NCAA Champion at Fresno State University

Frank Fox— Team Co-Captain, Distance, Steeplechase, 9:23.9, #6 Taft College All-Time (Weber State University)

Larry Harrington—110 High Hurdles 13.87, #1 Taft College All-Time; Two-Time State Champion, Current California State Record Holder 13.64; 13.20 Personal Best @1996 Olympic Trials

Keith Holley—Long Jump 26’ 9”, #1 Taft College All-Time; 25’ 10” State Champion; Triple Jump 52’ 4”, #3 Taft College All-Time; 50’ 4.75” State Champion (St. Augustine University)
Pat Hubbard—Distance 800m - 1:53.91, Bruce Matheney and Ken Viren
Edmund Jones—High Jump 6’ 10”, 3 -Tie Taft College All-Time
Derrick Love—100 10.34, #4 Taft College All-Time; 200 - 21.00
Sean Maye—400 46.86, #7 Taft College All-Time; 800 1:49.79, #6 Taft College All-Time; 6-10 High Jump #3-Tie Taft College All-Time (BYU); 1997 World Indoor Champion 4x400 Relay Member for USA
Marcus McFarland—Hurdles 110HH 14.82; 400H 53.16
Jeremy Moore—Pole Vault 15’ 9”, #2 Taft College All-Time
Tony Moore—Shot Put/Discus Throw 161’ 6”, #2 Taft College All-Time
Sam Parlow—Javelin 189’ 1”, #6 Taft College All-Time; #1 New Javelin
Joe Randolph—Sprints 100 - 10.47; 200 - 21.07
Nora Richardson— Team Co-Captain, Sprints 200 - 20.7 HT; 400 - 47.91
Larry Sanders—110 High Hurdles 14.10, #7 Taft College All-Time; 400 Hurdles 51.44, #5 Taft College All-Time, Two-Time State Champion 
Dave Scott—Sprints 100 - 10.47; 200 - 21.07
Bill Shepard—Sprints 200 - 21.47
4x100 Relay State Champions (Derrick Love, Bill Shepard, Dave Scott, Keith Holley)—39.77, #3 Taft College All-Time
4x400 Relay State Champions—3:10.14 (Robert Foster, Larry Sanders, Nora Richardson, Sean Maye)
4x110 High Hurdles Relay (Marcus McFarland, Larry Sanders, Larry Harrington, Robert Foster)—58.05, #1 Taft College All-Time