Feb 23, 2016
The Diablo Valley College Athletic Hall of Fame induction ceremony on Feb. 18 celebrated Vikings legends and offered a moving tribute to an amazing swimmer and inspiring person, Lauren McCullough.
McCullough, one of nine HOF inductees at the Norseman Restaurant, died of cancer in February 2014 at the age of 21 after earning All-American status at DVC in the 50-yard backstroke in 2013.
McCullough succumbed to Ewing's sarcoma, a malignant cancer that attacks bone and soft tissue.
Her parents, Deanne and John, attended the DVC induction ceremony.
"Her parents are here and they've handled the situation unbelievably well; much stronger than I think I ever could have been," DVC swimming coach Rick Millington said. "Lauren was a great athlete and a wonderful person, and we miss her."
A large crowd at the induction ceremony seemed enthralled by guest speaker George Miller, a former DVC student-athlete and esteemed U.S. congressman (1975-2015).
Others inducted were Chappie Lisle, Al Lewis, Chuck McInnis, Kristen Elms, Paul Gambs, Kim Bierwith, Jennifer Kawakami and Ann Burris-Schultz. Baseball coach Steve Ward, who founded the DVC Hall of Fame in 2005, was the host.
A two-time swimming MVP at Laguna Creek High in Elk Grove, McCullough was diagnosed with cancer soon after she graduated. She was able to compete at DVC during a time of remission. During her battle with the disease, she shared her story to a wider audience on a blog: www.thenotdyinggirl.com.
Bierwith, a Monte Vista graduate, is considered the greatest female swimmer in DVC history as the Big 8 Conference and CCCAA State Swimmer of the Year in 2008 and 2009.
She was thrilled and shocked when she received the news of her Hall of Fame induction.
"When Steve (Ward) called and told me that, I honestly didn’t know what to say," Bierwith said. "'Really? Me?' I always heard how amazing it is to get this. ... I had so much fun here, it's even more amazing to get this award because I enjoyed doing it the whole time I was here. That's what makes it so special."
Bierwith, a two-time DVC captain and an academic All-American, set state records at the 2009 CCCAA championships in the 50 freestyle (23.24) and 50 butterfly (24.90). She set numerous DVC records, before also excelling at San Diego State.
Millington knows Bierwith well. His son and assistant coach Ricky has coached her since she was 6 years old.
"So she's been part of our family for many years," said Millington, a Hall of Fame executive committee member. "What a tremendous athlete. Coming here was her best move because she struggled a little in high school with academics, just couldn't really focus. She did wonderful here. Now she's a sheriff."
Here's some information about the other HOF inductees:
Chappie Lisle was a DVC assistant football coach from 1964-1984; head women's volleyball coach from 1979-81; head tennis coach from 1974-84; finished his teaching and coaching career at Los Medanos.
Al Lewis was a DVC basketball great from 1985-87; two-time all Golden Gate Conference selection; led the GGC in scoring in 1986-87; transferred to Saint Mary's College.
Chuck McGinnis was a hot-hitting all-GGC first baseman in 1985 and 1986; transferred to San Diego State.
Paul Gambs was the only closer in DVC baseball history to make first-team all-conference and first-team all-State. Holds single-season and career DVC saves record.
Ann Burris-Schultz was a track and field and cross country star at DVC (1990-92): GGC champ in 3,000, 5,000 meters; transferred to Fresno State.
Kristen Elms was the greatest soccer goal scorer in DVC history; season-record 21 goals; career mark of 28 goals; transferred to Cal State East Bay.
Jennifer Kawakami was a great two-sport athlete in volleyball and basketball; two-time all-Big 8 volleyball; basketball all-conference; averaged double-double in 2009-10.
-- Matt Schwab