West Hills College Coalinga will induct several of its former athletes and one staff member into its Athletic Hall of Fame on Saturday, October 27 at the West Hills College Coalinga gymnasium.
This year’s 22nd Hall of Fame class includes: Heather Allen, volleyball; Jesse Griffin, basketball; Mark Gritton, head football coach and athletic director; Jim Harper, baseball; and Jeff Shearer, rodeo.
“These five individuals represent different eras in West Hills College Coalinga’s rich athletic tradition and have been successful in athletics, education, business and community involvement,” said Eric Mendoza, WHCC associate dean of athletics.
“This is a special class in more ways than one. The five inductees come from five different sports – but they all share a passion for giving back and being leaders in the community. We are extremely proud that they are products of West Hills College Coalinga and we look forward to celebrating their many accomplishments.”
The inductees will be recognized during halftime at the Falcons’ football game against College of the Sequoias on Oct. 27 at 1 p.m. The Hall of Fame banquet will begin with a social hour at 6 p.m., followed by dinner at 7 p.m. and inductions with ESPN radio host Nick Papagni serving as Master of Ceremonies.
Tickets can be purchased for $75 per person by contacting Gina Jason at (559) 934-2452.
Heather Allen, perhaps one of the best all-around volleyball players in West Hills College Coalinga history, attended from 2006-2008. The Lemoore High School product served as WHCC team captain and was a two-time First Team All-Central Valley Conference selection. As a freshman middle blocker, she ranked ninth among all Northern California players in kills per game (4.61) – finishing with 304 on the season. As a sophomore outside hitter, she was voted Team MVP, recording 233 kills (3.82 per game) and 301 digs (4.93 per game) – the only player in the CVC that season to rank in the state’s Top 30 in both categories. She remains the only player in Falcon history to finish her career with more than 500 digs (537) and 500 kills (507). She transferred to Academy of Art in San Francisco (2008-2009), where she became a defensive specialist/libero. She was twice named Player of the Week and finished fourth on the team in digs per game (367 total). Allen graduated with a Bachelor of Fine Arts, Illustration degree. Allen is currently the program director for PE+ at the Peninsula Community Center in Redwood City. She oversees seven elementary schools and 24 sport coaches in the Redwood City School District, while creating sports and fitness curriculum and training new employees. She is also the head coach for the Encore Volleyball Club. Allen served as head JV coach at Notre Dame High School and was a volunteer strength and conditioning coach at Serra High School. She now lives in Menlo Park, California.
Jesse Griffin attended West Hills College Coalinga from 2003-2005 and was a standout guard on the Falcons basketball team. He was voted All-Central Valley Conference twice and All-State his sophomore year. He led the team in scoring, averaging 15 points per game, and finished 44 percent from three-point range. He transferred to Oklahoma Baptist University (2005-2007), where he was a two-time All-Sooner Conference selection and a leading scorer at 14 points per game his senior year. During his junior and senior seasons, he helped lead the program to consecutive appearances in the NAIA National Tournament. He has worked as a Cox Communication Service Technician for 10 years and also volunteers as a youth league coach. Griffin now lives in Las Vegas with wife, Ekram Yusuf, and they have one child.
Mark Gritton has a long history with the West Hills College Coalinga campus and community. “Grit” came to WHCC in 1996 as a football coach. He coached from 1996-2008, before serving as athletic director from 2008-2013. His successful playing career at Orange Coast College (All-Conference) and Humboldt State University (Most Valuable Player) suited him well as a coach in Finland (player-coach) – and later with stints at Humboldt, College of the Sequoias, and Wayne State College. When he came to WHCC, he kicked-off school records for longest tenure of any head football coach, most wins, most bowl game appearances, and bowl game victories. In 1999, he led the Falcons to the Central Valley Conference championship and was named CVC Coach of the Year. He also guided bowl-qualifying and state-ranked teams in 1998, 2002, and 2003. Over the years, Grit has served the college as both a hard-working employee and a servant leader. He started a tradition providing meals to students who are unable to travel home for Thanksgiving and benefiting local families. His teams volunteered in the community and helped with fundraisers for community organizations. In 2008, he was recognized by the Coalinga Chamber of Commerce as “Educator of the Year” and, in 2013, he was named “Citizen of the Year.” He has served the California Community College Football Coaches Association (CCCFCA) on its Executive Board and has coordinated game management of the state championship football game. Last spring, Grit was inducted into the CCCFCA Hall of Fame in the contributor category. As the former Associate Dean of Student Services at WHCC, he has served on nearly every major campus committee, including Accreditation and Program Review. Grit currently serves as a full-time faculty member, teaching health and physical education. He resides in Grover Beach with his wife, Katherine, and their two children.
Jim Harper attended Coalinga College, now WHCC, from 1958-1960. He was a member of the baseball team, playing second base. Jim was a member of the 1958 state championship baseball team – the first team to be inducted into the WHCC Hall of Fame in 1997. After graduating, he transferred to Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, where he continued his baseball career and was selected team captain from 1961-1962. He received his bachelor’s degree from Cal Poly in 1964 and went on to earn a Master’s degree from Fresno Pacific University in 1980. He has enjoyed a successful career as an educator, coach, athletic director, school administrator and principal. He was a leader in education for 35 years, working at Kerman High School and the Madera Unified School District. Over the years, he was active in his community, involved in Madera Kiwanis, on the board of directors for the Madera Golf and Country Club, and as president of the Madera National Little League. He currently serves as a trustee for the Madera Public Cemetery District. Harper lives in Madera with his wife, Teresa, and has two children and five grandchildren in the area.
Jeff Shearer attended WHCC from 1987-1990 and was a member of the Falcons rodeo team. He was the team captain, a Regional All-Around Champion, and a three-time College National Finals Rodeo qualifier. He competed regularly in all “rough stock” events at the CNFR except for calf roping. He was a circuit champion and qualifier in saddle bronc riding, and qualifier in team roping. Shearer graduated from WHCC with a degree in Agriculture Business Management. He holds a Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association gold card and currently works as a professional rodeo pick-up man. His experience as a competitor translated into Shearer becoming a head judge and replay official with the Professional Bull Riders. He is also active in his community, volunteering at his son’s school, at local high school rodeos, and at youth rodeo clinics. He won the saddle bronc event in 1996 at the 100th Anniversary Cheyanne Frontier Days Rodeo (considered the granddaddy of all rodeos); winning the saddle bronc buckle was a pinnacle triumph for him. He has two children, Wyatt and Sterling, which he considers his crowning achievements. Shearer resides in Loma Rica, California.