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Ron Allice A Great Contributor To Olympic Games 

Our Classmate, Ron Allice, produced his first Olympian in 1964 when he was the coach of the Long Beach Comets, a club track and field team that began with five athletes, including a future Olympian, and within a year had grown to more than 150 members. Now Ron's most recent Olympian arrives 48 years later in 2012.

That's a lot of years and a lot of Olympians, and Ron couldn't, or wouldn't, say how many young men and women he's sent to the Olympics. The official tally is upwards of 40, and that doesn't include probably 10 times that number that he's sent to the Olympic trials. Ron's produced more than 300 All-American's.

"I've always felt like a teacher. Coaching is like teaching, and it's a treasure for me when they come back and I can see where they are in their life," Ron said.

Ron's career spans 13 Olympics. Beside the Comets, Ron was an assistant at Compton High (1966) and head coach at Jordan (1967-68) and Poly (1969-71) before a brief stay at Cal Poly Pomona (1972-73). Ron then returned home as head coach at Long Beach State (1974-78), Long Beach City College (1979-94), and USC (1995-2012).

Ron has been to the Olympic Games only once, the home Games of 1964 in Los Angeles. "I don't travel," he said, "I coach."

Ron will travel this year, to London, to attend the games and watch some of his students complete in this years Olympics. The timing seemed right, with Ron nearing his 50th year of coaching. Ron's wife,of 49 years, Sharlene, attended all his meets after the children were raised however she will not be accompanying Ron to this year's Olympics as she succombed to cancer in June 2011.

There is no denying that Ron is overdue for recognition for what he has given to Long Beach, USC and the track community. We are proud to recognize and honor our classmate.

The NFL's Coach of the Year - Long Beach, CA

     Shattering records consistently in track and football, receiving the first-ever NFL award for High School Coach of the Year as an assistant coach, sending more than 50 young talents into the NFL, and inspiring athletes for more than 30 years have made coach Don Norford a master in his profession. Norford is a viable asset for any track or football team in the country, so it would only make sense that he is now a top NFL coach, right? Wrong. Long Beach Polytechnic High School is proud to be home of the first-class coach. One cannot help but wonder why this man who has a proven track record of pumping out professional athletes chooses to remain at the high school level. Surely, the collegiate level has approached him to become a head coach. Most definitely he has sparked some interest from the NFL. The fact of the matter is that Coach Norford is exactly where he feels he is needed the most. Norford has all the accolades a coach could hope to gain, including sending multiple players to the NFL. Players such as Pago Togafau and Winston Justice with the Philadelphia Eagles; Marcedes Lewis with the Jacksonville Jaguars; Willie McGinest with the Cleveland Browns; Omar Stoutmire with the Washington Redskins; Samie Parker with the Denver Broncos; and Manuel Wright with the New York Giants.

     With that shopping list of superstars under his direction, Horford would have the right to sing his own praises. It does not work that way at Poly. Coach Norford hands down owns the reputation as one of the most humble men in sports. Never does he throw around the names of prime-time athletes he helped groom. From his home in the heart of East Long Beach to the modest facilities at Long Beach Poly, and the turning down of offers from around the nation, it is amazing to see a man who loves his position of influence in a crucial time of young athlete's lives.

    Honorably, Norford was the first to receive an award from the NFL for High School Coach of the Year in 1996. Thanks to a nomination from Leonard Russell, who was then playing with the San Diego Chargers. Norford graciously accepted and was awarded the trophy over four other head coaches who were nominated. Along with the trophy came a prime-time commercial piece, an all-expenses paid trip to the Super Bowl with amazing seats, and $5,000 cash. In true Norford fashion, the award money went right into the Poly athletic program. Poly works with modest facilities, but as Norford points out, stateof- the-art equipment does not make the athlete, motivation makes the athlete.

    There are no secret camps, special plays, classified equipment, or performance-enhancing substances under the direction of Norford, just good old-fashioned teamwork. Norford lovingly refers to his track teams as "the most hugging-est team around." When a new class comes up, the players are quickly schooled to the ways of the Jackrabbits. There are no superstars on the team. Each person is a valuable asset regardless of wins or losses. Even the most headstrong athletes come to love and embody the Jackrabbit way. Norford feels that too much pride and boastfulness foster destruction, a lesson that is learned right away. family.

     Flashback to the '50s and '60s when "Papa Don" was growing up and it is easy to see how his philosophies and coaching principles were developed. Norford remembers his own neighborhood, just one block from Poly. He grew up watching the Poly track team practice and later attended Poly, participating in its world-renowned sports programs. His father was a humble man who worked two or three jobs to keep the family living well; through his father's hard work and dedication to his family, the young Don Norford learned what it was to be a man and take care of a family. From his mother he learned compassion, love, and a strong sense of faith.

    Dedication, drive, and a great deal of commitment to the team forced Norford to spend hours upon hours looking at tapes of previous games, at the library reading playbooks, attending football clinics, and most importantly listening to seasoned coaches. Coaching his 7-year-old son in the Pop Warner football league is when his legacy began. When his sons moved onto Poly, he followed right along until he found his true calling, educating the young athletes. Norford says, "Believe it or not, but I am more excited when my athletes sign contracts for schools than I am when they win a game or a meet."

     Norford credits much of his knowledge to the role models and mentors he had while growing up, including former Poly grads Gene Washington, who is currently the director of football operations for the NFL; Long Beach 6th District Councilman Dee Andrews; and Willie Brown, former NFL player, USC coach, and now academic advisor. Throughout the years, Norford has  taken the advice he has received and combined it with his real world experiences to become a positive role mode for the youth. He knows firsthand that the advice from someone you respect and look up to can bring you through tough times.

     Norford's players come to him for advice on and off the field. Norford's team of coaches now consists, in a large part, of Long Beach Poly alums who thoroughly respect his principles. Norford cannot say it enough that he has "the best staff in the world." He has the utmost trust in them to help lead his teams. Norford opens the field up to all of his past athletes to come back and speak with the kids. NFL athletes often return to training camps to mentor and answer questions. Those who have accepted full-ride scholarships tell their prior teammates what it is really like to compete on an elevated level. All this lends to the family spirit that drives the Jackrabbits.

    Perhaps the most important element that Coach Norford has brought to this professional athlete factory is the spiritual element. The whole team prays together at practice, before and after games, and whenever they need some extra inspiration. To outsiders, it may sound like the team is forced to pray, but the prayers are voluntary and almost all participate. Norford feels that if a player can pray and clear his mind, he can begin to see why certain things happen. The coach himself prays for specifics with the team, and they see the results out on the field or the track. Norford's position at Poly as a coach is his ministry.

Long Beach man shared president's meeting with Apollo 11 crew 

LONG BEACH — Lt. j.g. Jim Ovard and his shipmates aboard the USS Hornet heard rumors in May 1969 that they might be somehow involved in the Apollo space program sometime that year. At that time, the rumors were only rumors. The aircraft carrier was returning home to Long Beach after seven months in Vietnam, which included a detour to the Sea of Japan, and was slated for several months of shipyard repairs. Once the Hornet reached the shipyard, the crew discovered it had been chosen as the Apollo 11 recovery ship and would likely take a notable place in history. "We were in port in Long Beach for about a month while repairs were made and special communications equipment was installed on the ship," Ovard said. In addition to making repairs, crews installed a satellite communication antenna and loaded special gear for NASA, ABC and Western Union. Then, the Hornet steamed for Hawaii. In Pearl Harbor, the Hornet crew loaded a mock-up of the command module for training exercises and two Mobile Quarantine Facilities. "They had two motifs," said Ovard, a longtime Long Beach resident, "one to isolate the astronauts and the other as a backup in case anything went wrong. Everything had a backup." The crew spent the next month training for the pending recovery. "We ran tons of practices day and night to prepare for every contingency we could think of," Ovard said. Ovard said the Hornet's skipper, Capt. Carl Seiberlich, "asked" him if he would be interested in a special assignment. "When your higher-ups ask you something in a certain tone, you say, `Yes, sir. I'll be happy to do it,"' Ovard said. Ovard was assigned as the liaison officer for communications. Part of his job was to make sure the various media teams covering the event had everything they needed. The crew of the Hornet, like most of the rest of the world, watched in awe as astronauts Neil Armstrong and Edwin "Buzz" Aldrin became the first humans to set foot on the moon on July 20, 1969. "We were all standing by, making sure they landed safely; that we were going to have the opportunity to do the job we were out there preparing for," Ovard said. "If they had crashed, our actions would have been futile." "There was a huge cheer and a collective sigh of relief when they landed," Ovard said. "We knew we were assuredly going to have a chance to recover the astronauts. Our motto was Hornet Plus Three." Ovard's other duty was to welcome President Richard Nixon aboard the carrier, provided the Apollo 11 made it. He carried out that duty four days later on July 24, 1969, when Nixon landed on the Hornet's deck in a helicopter and the Apollo 11 crew, including command module pilot Michael Collins, splashed into the Pacific Ocean. "On the morning of the recovery it was very overcast and we didn't get a chance to see the re-entry at all," Ovard said. "There was no visual contact until it actually broke through the cloud ceiling." The command module splashed down approximately 40 minutes after Ovard greeted Nixon. Recovery swimmers attached a flotation collar within minutes. The three astronauts went through decontamination procedures before being lifted in a net by a Navy rescue helicopter and brought aboard the Hornet, to be placed in quarantine. After Nixon welcomed them home, Ovard escorted him to the helicopter. "I'm mostly proud that I was the last one on the ship that got to speak to the president," Ovard said. "The Apollo 11 recovery was my swan song in the Navy," Overt said. Upon leaving the Navy, he joined the Navy Reserves, retiring in 1993 after 27 combined years of military service. He still resides in Long Beach.