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Arizona Western College Hall of Fame

Established in 2011, the AWC Hall of Fame honors alumni, former students, faculty and community leaders who have made a major contribution to the mission and goals of Arizona Western College, or, as former students, have contributed to in a significant way to the lives of others after being a part of the AWC Student Body. Those eligible for recognition include students, faculty, administrators, community leaders that have a significant connection to AWC, as well as those who have made a significant contribution to the College through personal time, effort and interest.

Arizona Western College is seeking nominations for the 2020 AWC Hall of Fame Award!

2018 Hall of Fame Inductee 1983 Softball Championship Team

1983 Softball Team, National Champions

The teammates on the 1983 softball team jelled early, and coach Charlie Dine “said he thought way back in January his girls had a good chance (to play for a championship)” according to an article in the August 15, 1983 edition of the Western Weekly.

“The championship was very satisfying - to the players and the coaches,” Dine said in the article by Joyce Christie. “It was a realization of all our goals. They all came true this year. At the national there wasn’t anything better or bigger than here in the Arizona Conference.”

Two players on this roster were named to the NJCAA Softball All-Americans: Debbie Mygind (pitcher) and Missi Vassar (centerfield). Mygind was the nation’s top strike-out pitcher, and Vassar led the country in RBI’s. Six players were named to the all-conference team: Theresa Sims (third base), Nikki Woo (catcher) joined Mygind and Vassar on the first team, while Cindi Garcia (shortstop) and Tammy Braskett (second base) were named to the second team.

Many players went on to university-level competition, including Vassar (Oklahoma State), Sims and Braskett (both to Northeast Louisiana University). Mygind spent the summer with the New Zealand National Team participating in the mini-world softball series in China.

According to a story in the April 28, 1983 edition of the Western Weekly, Coach Dine said he hoped the team would peak during the tournament. “At least that’s our goal,” he said in an interview. He seemed philosophical about his team’s errors and development, saying, “Errors are going to happen. Hopefully, they have them out of their system. They still have the best record in the league. I wouldn’t trade these kids for anyone else. They’re a great bunch. The other teams still have to come to Yuma to face the dirty dozen.”

 

1983 National Women’s Fast Pitch Softball Champions:
  • Co-Captain Missi Vassar
  • Co-Captain Theresa Sims
  • Nikki Woo
  • Tina Leon
  • Cindi Garcia
  • Patty Sheals
  • Jinny Iodice
  • Tammy Braskett
  • Monica Lopez
  • Patty McNulty
  • Debbie Mygind
  • Dawn Draper

2018 Hall of Fame Inductee 1987 Softball Championship Team

1987 Softball Team, National Champions

Bolstered by remarkable pitching from three players, the 1987 Softball team (54-11) dominated regular-season play and sailed to a national title with tough defense and great coaching.

It’s remarkable that the team’s lead pitcher, Kim Stoner, earned top billing as the country’s best. What’s even more remarkable is the team included pitchers Kim Beatty and Adrianna Bojorquez, who finished fifth and seventh in the nation - creating a pitching juggernaut. That powerhouse was coached on the field by ACCAC Player of the Year and AWC catcher Tammy Turner, who called every pitch from behind the plate.

Just as noteworthy is the way this team took the national title: by winning 1-0 over Illinois Central College in a game that started after midnight in between storms. The game was originally scheduled for 12:30 p.m., but was postponed for a rain delay. The decision to begin play after midnight - 12:40 a.m., to be exact - was approved by both teams because the forecast for the next 4 days included an 80 percent chance of rain.

Three players on this roster were named to the NJCAA Softball All-American Team: Turner (catcher) and Brandi Hust (infielder) were named to the first team, and Stoner (pitcher), the NJCAA national tournament MVP, was named to the second team.

1987 National Women’s Fast Pitch Softball Champions:
  • Lora Prince
  • Tammy Turner
  • Kim Carroll
  • Brandi Hust Clark
  • Noreena Mares
  • Julie Grounds
  • Jackie O'Connor
  • Kim Beatty Brooks
  • Adrianna Bojorquez
  • Kim Stoner (deceased)
  • Carmen Domingues (deceased)

2018 Hall of Fame Inductee Charlie Dine

Arizona Western College will induct the 1983 and 1987 championship softball teams along with late head coach Charlie Dine into the AWC Hall of Fame on Saturday, April 20, 2019. The day’s events will start at 10:00 a.m. on the Yuma Campus in the Frances Morris Board Room (3C). The itinerary begins with introductions and an awards ceremony followed by a campus tour leading to the Charlie Dine Softball Field for an AWC softball doubleheader.

Dine arrived in Yuma in the spring of 1970 where he was a member of the AWC family for approximately 27 years. Dine served 10 years as Athletic Director, and then from 1982-1991 as AWC Head Softball Coach. In addition to coaching two NJCAA championship teams, the team earned runner-up status in 1986. During both championship years, Dine was named NJCAA National Softball Coach of the Year; he ranks ninth as the Winningest Softball Coaches in NJCAA history with 248 wins and 99 losses. The College named the softball field in his honor in 2014. Dine passed away in the fall of 2004.

 

2018 Hall of Fame Inductee Dr. George Montopoli

AWC Professor Emeritus Dr. George Montopoli has spent his career working to make the world around him better. Montopoli spent 19 years on the faculty of AWC, and 13 years as an adjunct professor with NAU-Yuma. He taught a wide range of subjects to thousands of students, including statistics, calculus, ecology and environmental science. Besides his teaching load, he also drew on his statistical expertise and independently evaluated 36 grants in 30 years. His work in a wide variety of fields has been widely published over the past 20 years.

Beyond higher education, Dr. Montopoli has championed protected lands, wildlife preservation, and health and human service education in the US and abroad. Montopoli has served as a climbing/rescue ranger since 1977 in the Grand Teton Park, averaging 40 rescues per summer, where he developed and led Emergency Response training with a Wilderness First Aid focus. During four years with the Peace Corps in Chile and Ecuador, he trained locals in Advanced First Aid, provided medical care, and assisted in 80 childbirths. As a leading researcher on bald eagles in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem for the better part of 30 years, his team has contributed significantly to the species’ recovery, including the banning of lead when hunting or fishing in Grand Teton National Park. Montopoli is also a Master Falconer, and a principal avian rehabilitator of birds of prey in the Southwest region of Arizona.

2018 Hall of Fame Inductee Dr. Kathryn A. Watson

Dr. Kathryn Watson’s contributions are visible throughout the AWC campus and the broader Yuma community. During her 33 years as a professor of Family Studies, she taught a wide variety of classes from Child Development to Family Relations. The state-of-the-art Child Development Learning Lab on the Yuma campus is named in her honor for her many professional contributions to this field of study.

Dr. Watson has deep and broad ties to the Yuma region. She is a product of the community college/university partnership, having started with her AA in Home Economics at AWC and finishing as the first Yuma doctoral student to graduate from NAU-Yuma and be hooded at the AWC-NAU commencement ceremony. She is widely published in her field, including a 29-year position as Family Focus columnist with the Yuma Sun newspaper. She was named Yuma County Teacher of the Year in 1994 and earned the Yuma County Chamber of Commerce’s distinguished Athena Award for women in leadership in 2003. Dr. Watson’s commitment to professional growth for both herself and her colleagues is demonstrated by a history of conference participation and presentations. Community organizations that have benefited from her leadership include First Things First, YRMC, Zonta International and the American Association of Family and Consumer Sciences.

2017 Hall of Fame Inductee Bengie Molina

Before Bengie Molina was an Angel, a Blue Jay, a Giant, or a Ranger – he was a Matador. After graduating from high school with honors in Puerto Rico, Molina played shortstop and pitched for Arizona Western College in 1991 and 1992. From there Molina went on to become a catcher in the Major Leagues where he won two World Series rings (Anaheim Angels in 2002, San Francisco Giants in 2010). He was also awarded a Golden Glove as the top defensive player at his position in both 2002 and 2003. Molina’s baseball career includes a rare feat of hitting for the cycle in one game. On July 16, 2010, Molina hit (in order) a single, a double, a grand slam home run, and a triple. He is the first catcher in Major League history to hit for the cycle with a grand slam. After retiring from the majors, Molina went on to coach with the St. Louis Cardinals and the Texas Rangers and made a third trip to the World Series with St. Louis. Molina is also a published author, having written the New York Times bestselling book “Molina: The Story of the Father Who Raised an Unlikely Dynasty.”

2017 Hall of Fame Inductee Lynne Pancrazi

Lynne Pancrazi has helped to change the face of education in Yuma and Arizona for the better. She did this through her work as an elected member of the Arizona House of Representatives (2007–2013) and the Arizona Senate (2013–2017), where she influenced legislation and policy at the state level and beyond on issues related to education, natural resources, public safety, and budget. She’s also known for her dedication to a safe and secure border, managed growth, adequate infrastructure, and rural community issues. A product of Yuma public schools, Pancrazi spent 28 years as a teacher, instructor and athletic coach in Yuma Elementary School District One. She studied Criminal Justice at Arizona Western College and received her bachelor’s degree in Physical Education from Point Loma Nazarene College. Pancrazi also received her master’s degree in Elementary Education from Northern Arizona University. She currently serves District 5 on the Yuma County Board of Supervisors after being elected to the position in 2016.

2016 Hall of Fame Inductee Olivia Zepeda

Olivia Elizondo Zepeda, an immigrant child and binational migrant farm worker from the age of 10, moved from Mexico to San Luis, Arizona when she was 14. After two years at Kofa High School, she enrolled at Arizona Western College, where she earned an Associate in Arts degree. She received a BA in Elementary Education from Northern Arizona University and later her Master’s degree in Bilingual and Multicultural Education. With over 39 years of experience in education, Zepeda has taught elementary through university levels and served as the Associate Superintendent of the Gadsden Elementary School District for 17 years. Zepeda has been an ardent supporter of expanding educational opportunities and immigrant advocacy.

2016 Hall of Fame Inductee C. Candy Camarena

C. Candy Camarena’s determination and consistent efforts to achieve success have firmly established his solid reputation as an attorney and community benefactor.   Camarena has been instrumental in the development and sponsorship of the La Cosecha Banquet at Arizona Western College, where graduates from all walks of life are recognized for their perseverance in attaining an Associate’s degree in the face of obstacles. After studying Criminal Justice at AWC, Camarena majored Economics and Business at ASU and was later admitted to the ASU Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law. Camarena says, “I learned early to work hard to sustain myself, but also to accept help when I needed it, and to help whenever someone else needed it.”