Photos courtesy Rick Van Horne, Haley Street Heroes
The world lost a legend Sunday when NFL Hall of Famer Frank Gifford passed away at the age of 84.
But Bakersfield lost a pioneer.
Before Buck Owens and Merle Haggard used their golden voices to add color to our city, and long before racers Rick, Roger and Casey Mears made sure Bakersfield was a fixture on the national sporting map, there was Frank Gifford.
Gifford came to Bakersfield in the 1940s when his father came to work in the oil fields. But for the younger Gifford, paydirt was struck on the athletic fields, where his talents made him a star quarterback at Bakersfield High School.
Despite his success, Gifford found himself at a turning point familiar to many young graduates: he didn’t have the grades to accept an athletic scholarship, in his case, to the University of Southern California. Rather than give up, Gifford pushed forward, enrolling at Bakersfield College instead, where he made to make his mark as a Renegade both on the playing field and in the classroom.
Photos courtesy Rick Van Horne, Haley Street Heroes
In earning his way to USC the following year, Gifford built a road map for success that ultimately inspired thousands upon thousands of future students to follow.
His football accomplishments with the New York Giants are legion: 6-time Pro Bowler, NFL MVP, league champion and finally, NFL Hall of Fame inductee in 1977. What’s more remarkable is that his second career as a pioneering broadcaster, most notably on ABC’s “Monday Night Football,” may even have eclipsed his days on the gridiron.
Bob Price Source: Bakersfield.com
For more on Gifford’s remarkable life, please check out Bob Price’s terrific column here.
Frank Gifford will be deeply missed. But on top of all his public triumphs and accolades, we at BC will be forever in his debt for showing our young people exactly how to follow their dreams. Gifford hit his obstacles head-on and climbed over them rather than turn away at the first sign of difficulty.
Thank you, Mr. Gifford. And thank you Francis Mayer and Jason Kobely for pulling this together.
Education never comes easy. Nothing worth acquiring ever does. And with all of life’s pressures and responsibilities we juggle each day – our jobs, our families, our friends and all the rest that comes with our frantic existences – it’s easy to look at the added toil of going to classes, completing assignments and paying tuitions and think, “Why am I putting myself through all this?”
That journey can seem even tougher to conquer if you come from a disadvantaged background. For many, paying bills, taking care of family members and simply surviving in difficult environments and communities can easily take precedence over the education that will inevitably set you up for an even better tomorrow.
BC has been working on issues of Equity and Inclusion in a focused way over the last two years particularly as it relates to the success of students in their educational attainment. We have several Equity initiatives underway and our newest initiative is Equity TV.
Launched last month on January 19, 2015, on Martin Luther King day, the one-hour series webcast on Bakersfield.com explores the important benefits available to students from all walks of life to help motivate higher education dreams among potential future Renegades and their families.
Dr. Sonya Christian, President, Bakersfield College
Every Monday at 11 a.m., hosts Francis Mayer and Christine Dinh O’Dell spotlight the experiences of BC faculty, staff, students and alumni to deliver a fundamental message: education is the key to life success and the bright future we all crave.
Dr. Horace Mitchell, President of CSUB
On January 19th, as the first guest on the show, I introduced BC-EquityTV to our community. Dr. Horace Mitchell, President of CSUB, was a guest on the launch episode. Thank you President Mitchell!
Subsequent weeks have similarly highlighted other special student populations particularly in need of encouragement and guidance, including Latino students, veterans and former foster youth.
Sandra Serrano, Chancellor, KCCD
Last Monday’s (Feb 23rd) show, shot in the beautiful studios at the Bakersfield Californian downtown, centered on the difficult issues confronting athletically gifted high school grads forced to tackle the often unfamiliar terrain of higher education.
Specifically, why should I care about school if I’m on my way to a life in professional sports?
Francis got a resounding answer to that question from former BC and NFL player Jeremy Staat. Jeremy recounted his rocky relationship with learning while at BC and later at Arizona State before being drafted in the second round of 1998 NFL Draft by the Pittsburgh Steelers.
You can still feel the regret as Jeremy told the heartbreaking story of being rejected for a post-football job at Home Depot – all because he left school without completing his degree. Despite a four-year NFL career and a trophy case of athletic accomplishments, none of it helped set up Jeremy to succeed after his career on the playing field. Jeremy is now a welding faculty at BC while he pursue a master’s degree.
Coach Reggie Bolton
Other guests this week included BC’s Associate Director of Athletics and assistant football coach Reggie Bolton, who advocates a “win at life” philosophy of academics ahead of any on-field accomplishments; and current Renegade football players safety Pat Marzett and running back Curtis McGregor, who despite challenging upbringings, have committed to achieving their higher education dreams with the same passion they’ve carried on to the turf at Memorial Stadium.
You can check out those Equity TV segments with Jeremy, Reggie, Pat and Curtis below as well as all the interviews from the show’s first five episodes on the Equity TV page at bakersfieldcollege.edu.
I want to thank the entire BC crew that made this happen. Amber Chiang, Odella Johnson, Corny Rodriguez, Paul Beckworth, Tina Mendoza, and Primavera Arvizu. Tune in and see just one of the fantastic projects at BC helping to make higher education a reality for everyone in Bakersfield and Kern County.
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