In a ceremony filled with emotional moments, the San Jose Sports Hall of Fame welcomed its latest quartet of inductees Wednesday night at the SAP Center. If this year’s honorees — NFL tight end Doug Cosbie, Archbishop Mitty basketball coach Sue Phillips, San Jose State baseball coach Sam Piraro, and world judo champion and coach Mike Swain — had one common theme, it was family.
Some reflected on the patient and supportive family members they had at home that enabled them to achieve their dreams. Others talked about the families they raised on their teams. For some it was both.
“This event is special because you have the opportunity to say thank you to all the people who brought you here,” said Piraro, who led San Jose State to the 2000 College World Series. One of those people was his brother Stuart Piraro. who provided a bone marrow donation in 2003 when the coach was battling cancer in 2003.
More than 650 people attended the 27th annual event, including Yosh Uchida, legendary San Jose State judo coach, who was 102 years old and was drafted in 1996. There were also three costumed mascots to entertain the crowd: Santa Clara University’s Bucky the Bronco, San Francisco 49ers’ Sourdough Sam and SJ Sharkie. Other honorees included high school athlete of the year Allie Montoya of Mountain View High School and Ethan Harrington of Palo Alto High School, and amateur athlete of the year Natasha Andrea Oon of San Jose State and Jalen Williams of Santa Clara University.
The eye-popping moment of the evening, however, belonged to Special Olympian of the Year Kim Hing, who channeled her inner MC and paid spoken word tribute to Special Olympics in Northern California, its athletes, coaches and staff. She received a well-deserved standing ovation after leading the crowd with the Special Olympics athlete’s oath, “Let me win. But if I can’t win, let me try.”
GOOD SPORT: 49ers Cal-Hi Sports host Robert Braunstein was the master of ceremonies at the San Jose Sports Hall of Fame event on Wednesday night, but he will be one of the honorees on November 13 at the Jewish Sports Hall of Fame of Northern California induction dinner. He’ll have plenty of cheers, too: Braunstein’s mom, Paula, is arriving at the San Francisco Four Seasons for the ceremony — on her 91st birthday.
Other honorees include sports columnist Lowell Cohn, San Francisco Giants President Larry Baer, broadcaster Ted Robinson, former college baseball player Will Chapman and Champ Pederson, the inspirational brother of the Giants player and Palo Alto High- Graduates Joc Pederson.
FAREWELL MEETING: When the Cambrian School District Board of Trustees meets on Thursday, November 17, it will not be just another meeting. It will be the district’s final board meeting for Randy Schofield, capping a board tenure that has spanned 28 of the past 30 years.
Schofield’s five children attended schools in San Jose’s West District, which underwent tremendous changes during his tenure on the board. He was first elected in 1992 and served until 2008; He was re-elected two years later and has held the seat ever since—a time when there were six district superintendents and a 36 percent increase in student enrollment.
As network security consultant for Cisco Systems, Schofield says he has always viewed the district’s students as his constituents, and after retiring from the board, he plans to spend time with his grandchildren, travel, and play golf.
PRIDE OF THE MILPITAS: Jennifer Cullenbine, founder and CEO of Family Giving Tree, was honored with the Citizen of the Year Award by the City of Milpitas in October. The award is presented annually to residents who give back to the community through volunteerism and philanthropy – two areas in which Cullenbine has earned the title of Queen Elf.
In 1990, Cullenbine and Todd Yoshida, a classmate from San Jose State, were tasked with their MBA project to create something that would be of value to others. The result was Family Giving Tree, a non-profit organization that granted vacation wishes to low-income children. The 2,010 vacation wishes granted in that first year seemed huge, but over its 32 years, the nonprofit has helped more than 2 million people in the Bay Area.
“It was nice introducing FGT to a group of people that I admire a lot and those in the community who don’t know what we do,” Cullenbine said. “Being selected for an annual award was humbling and overwhelming. It is an incredible honor to join the talented people who have preceded me as recipients of this recognition.”
GO SPARTANS: Congratulations to San Jose State Professor Richard Craig on receiving the College Media Association’s National Distinguished Adviser Award for his work with Spartan Daily. Craig — who has taught at SJSU’s journalism school since 2000 and became an advisor to Spartan Daily two years later — received the award Oct. 28 at the group’s Washington, DC convention
The award helps sustain the campus news agency, which won the College Media Association’s Pinnacle Award for Best Four-Year Campus Newspaper in 2021 and was recognized by the California News Publishers Association for Best College Newspaper in California in 2019 and 2021.