LOS ANGELES — It was a night of memories, laughs and excellence as eight Oxy greats were inducted into the Occidental College Athletics Hall of Fame during the second annual dinner ceremony on Friday night.
Former NFL coach Jim Mora ’57, NCAA women’s track champion Jacqui Dent (Ivey) ’92 and NCAA women’s tennis champion Jean Marie Sanders (Szakovits) ’84, were recognized in person on Bill Henry Track at Jack Kemp Stadium, along with Alphonzo Bell (Class of 1895); track stars Percy Hagerman (Class of 1906), Fred Thomson (Class of 1910) and Cliff Argue (Class of 1924); and legendary Oxy coach and athletic director Grant Dunlap ’46.
“It’s just the second year that we’ve celebrated our incredible athletic legacy like this, but you can feel the excitement growing,” said Hoffman, who founded the department-wide hall of fame. “I’m happy and proud to see this spectacular event becoming a featured event during homecoming weekend.”
For Mora, who went on to enjoy a 15-year career as a head coach in the NFL, being recognized by his alma mater is an especially emotional honor.
“When Jaime Hoffman called me and told me that I was going to be inducted this year I kind of got tears in my eyes,” Mora said. “I feel really honored and proud to be inducted into the Occidental Athletics Hall of Fame. I was here last year for the first class and was hoping someday I might get in and it happened pretty quick so I’m excited about it.”
Mora played football at Oxy and was the Tigers head coach for a brief period after graduating. In 1965, Mora’s Tigers beat Whittier at Patterson Field and went on to win the SCIAC championship.
“Of the years I coached here and played here, that was probably the highlight,” Mora said.
Dent (Ivey), who came to Oxy as a women’s basketball player, could never have imagined becoming a national champion in the 400 and 800 meters, let alone being honored as one of the greatest Tigers of all-time.
“I’m still taking it all in. I just enjoyed running and I didn’t start running until I got to Occidental,” said Dent (Ivey), standing on the turn of the track where she’s practiced and competed 100s of times.”
“It’s euphoric. I’m standing there reminiscing and my husband was wondering what I was doing,” Dent (Ivey) said. “I was just taking in all of the memories of running this curve and running at practices. It’s amazing to see how they’ve set this up right here.”
Jacqui’s two young daughters seemed destined to follow in her footsteps, already running sprints on the track before the ceremony.
“Hopefully this is inspirational for them,” Dent (Ivey) said. “I’m kind of allowing them to spread their wings and take off. Who knows they might be future Oxy Tigers.”
Sanders (Szakovits), who led the Oxy women’s tennis team to the first ever NCAA Division III women’s tennis championship, was introduced by her coach Lynn Mehl. Sanders (Szakovits) said it’s like she never left.
“It feels like she’s just the same as when I was here. I don’t know how many years have past, but we won’t say,” Sanders (Szakovits) joked. “It’s so exciting.”
Dunlap, a student, coach, athletic director and faculty member for nearly 40 years at Oxy, was not in attendance, but fond memories of him were. Oxy Hall of Famer Bill Redell closed the presentation by telling a story about Dunlap giving him a C- in basketball theory and longtime Oxy track coach Bill Harvey said Dunlap was the coach that “had the most profound impact on my life,” during his video presentation of Dent (Ivey).
Paul Finchamp ‘80, Oxy’s Tiger Club President and two-time football All-American, served as the night’s master of ceremonies. One of the highlights of the evening was a video spoof of Finchamp’s undeserving desire to be inducted into Oxy’s hall of fame, produced by his son Trevor.
Dick Dorman ’67 spoke about Dunlap and Mora was introduced by his son Stephen.
Historian John Pohlmann ’62, David Appleton ’67, Bob Lord ’58 M’61 and Cliff Moffatt accepted on behalf of the posthumous inductees (Bell, Hagerman, Thomson and Argue). When he was a student at Oxy, Pohlmann wrote his senior thesis on Bell.
Resumes of Eight Inductees
Alphonzo Bell 1895 – A tennis and business legend who won two medals at the 1904 Summer Olympics in St. Louis – a bronze in the men's singles event, and a silver in the men's doubles tournament. During his time at Oxy, Bell was an Inter-Collegiate Tennis Champion, a Pacific Coast Tennis Champion and earned national rankings of fifth in singles and eighth in doubles. Bell eventually became an oil multi-millionaire and renown philanthropist. The Westside Los Angeles residential community Bel Air is named after him.
J. Percy Hagerman 1906 - Was one of Oxy’s first great track and field athletes. A perennial contender in three events, Hagerman captained the Tigers his senior year, when he set an Oxy record of 23’ 4.5” in the broad jump. He joined Alphonzo Bell 1895 at the 1904 Olympic games, where he finished in sixth place in both the long jump and triple jump as a member of team Canada. He was once named the Southern California Athlete of the Year and also Oxy’s Athlete of the 1900 Decade.
Fred Thomson 1910 – A three-sport athlete at Oxy – a four-year letterman in football, he also played baseball -- Thomson was best known as a record-breaking track athlete who could do it all: run hurdles, high jump, pole vault, shot put, or throw the hammer. Thomson won the 10-event, all-around national Amateur Athletic Union championship in Chicago (a predecessor to the decathlon) the summer he graduated (future Olympic president Avery Brundage finished third). Thomson went on to win two more all-around titles while a student at Princeton Theological Seminary. Thomson became a popular silent film cowboy actor before passing away tragically at the age of 38.
Cliff Argue ’24 – Cliff Argue played football and basketball for Oxy and was offered a pro contract in baseball, but it was as a sprinter that he lead the Tigers to three consecutive conference championships and set a college record of 9.8 seconds in the 100. He competed in the 1924 Olympic games in the pentathlon and later served a member of the Southern California Committee for the Olympics. His son John, also an Oxy grad, became a leading civic figure who was instrumental in bringing the Olympics to Los Angeles in 1984.
Grant Dunlap ’46 - A legend at Oxy for his incredible career as an athlete, coach, administrator and faculty member for 40 years. As an athlete, Dunlap was an All-Conference baseball and basketball player for the Tigers who went on to play Major League Baseball for the St. Louis Cardinals for one season in 1953. In 1955, Dunlap came back to coach at Oxy where he led the baseball team to nine conference championships and the basketball team to five. Dunlap was awarded faculty emeritus status by the time he retired in 1984.
Jim Mora ’57 – played tight end for the Occidental football team and later served as Oxy’s head coach for three seasons before moving on to a very successful 15-year head-coaching career in the NFL with the New Orleans Saints and Indianapolis Colts. Mora’s NFL teams advanced to the playoffs six different times and the former roommate of Oxy legend Jack Kemp finished with an overall regular season NFL record of 125-106. Mora also enjoyed success as a coach in the United States Football league, earning coach of the year honors in 1984 and leading the Philadelphia Stars to three championship games and two USFL titles.
Jean Marie (Sanders) Szakovits ’84 – Szakovits was arguably Oxy’s most dominant women's tennis player since Pat Yeomans ’38. She led the Tigers to four consecutive appearances at the NCAA Division III nationals, winning a national championship in doubles in 1982 – the same year Oxy won its first-ever national championship in women’s tennis -- and a national singles title in 1983.
Jacqui (Dent) Ivey ’92 – Perhaps the greatest female track and field student-athlete in Oxy’s storied history. Dent stole the show at the 1992 NCAA Division III Outdoor National Championships, winning national championships in the 400 and 800-meter events and a third as the anchor of Oxy’s first-place 1,600-meter relay team. She also earned All-American honors in the 200 that year. She holds Oxy records in the 400, 400 relay, 1,600 relay and the 800.
Follow Occidental Athletics on Twitter @OxyAthletics
Like us on Facebook.