There will be no virtual reality when it comes to UCSB’s Intercollegiate Athletics Hall of Fame.
The coronavirus pandemic has prompted the university to postpone next week’s induction ceremony until next year so they can properly honor the four Gaucho alumni as well as their NCAA finalist men’s volleyball team of 1988.
“We felt that we should do it the right way,” said Bill Mahoney, a Hall of Fame Committee member and UCSB’s assistant athletics director for communications. “The former student-athletes were incredibly deserving of a regular induction ceremony rather than a Zoom meeting or something like that.”
The postponement is actually fortuitous for women’s soccer inductee Jennifer Borcich, UCSB Class of 2004. The four-time All-Big West Conference first-team selection is pregnant and probably would have been unable to travel from Sacramento for the April 25 ceremony. It was scheduled to be held in the Hahn Room of the Music Academy of the West.
The other athletes selected for induction are track decathlete Tom Harris (1980) and baseball second baseman Chad Peshke (2001). Former Gaucho baseball outfielder Damon Jones (1991), who is now a senior vice-president and general counsel with Major League Baseball’s Washington Nationals, is the “Distinguished Gaucho” inductee.
“I had a chance to cover all of them except Harris,” Mahoney said. “I was with the men’s volleyball team in Fort Wayne, Ind. for the NCAA Championships in 1988, so these inductees are very special to me, to be honest with you.”
The 1988 volleyball team advanced to the NCAA Final Four, beating George Mason in the semifinals before losing a five-set thriller to USC. Three players off that 28-11 team — All-Americans David Rottman, Jose Gandara, and Eric Fonoimoana — were previously inducted into the UCSB Hall of Fame as individual athletes. Also on that team was All-America setter Jon Wallace.
Borcich ranks as the third-leading scorer in Gaucho women’s soccer history with 56 goals, and her 138 total points also rank third. Her 26 assists are sixth.
She was an All-Far West and NCAA All-Regional pick during both her junior and senior years, and was voted Big West Offensive Player of the Year in 2001, 2003 and 2004.
“The fact she won it three years speaks volumes about her consistency, durability, work rate … everything,” said Paul Stumpf, who was in his third year as the Gauchos’ coach when Borcich began her UCSB career.
Harris, who was tutored by Hall of Fame track and field coach Sam Adams, received All-America honors in 1980 after finishing sixth in the decathlon at the 1980 NCAA Championships. His 7,660 points stood as UCSB’s decathlon record for more than 30 years.
He also finished 10th at the NCAA Championships in 1978. He twice qualified for the U.S. Olympic Trials, placing sixth in 1984 with a personal record of 7,835 points.
Peshke, UCSB’s career hits leader with 294, was the star second baseman on the Gauchos’ NCAA Regional team of 2001. His batting average of .394 that season ranks ninth in school history.
He also holds the school record in career doubles with 68 and ranks in the top 10 in five other categories: runs (second with 206), at-bats (second with 876), triples (third with 11), total bases (fourth with 427), and RBI (sixth with 177).
Peshke is the only Gaucho to start in every game for four consecutive seasons — a school-record 214.
“That’s the thing I’m most proud of,” he said after the Cleveland Indians drafted him in the 21st round of the 2001 Major League Baseball Amateur Draft.
Jones also played baseball for the Gauchos, roaming the outfield from 1989 to 1991. He opted for Harvard Law School instead of pro baseball after graduation, however.
“What initially got me interested in the business side was the players — contract negotiations and endorsements,” Jones said. “While I was in law school, I did a lot of research about the industry from that perspective.”
He got his start in professional baseball while working as an intern with the Reich, Katz & Landis Baseball Group, which represented 50 Major Leaguers including former Chicago Cubs slugger Sammy Sosa.
“I went into the office and did anything they asked,” Jones said. “I read contracts. I learned how the baseball draft works. I learned about free agency and salaries, and how to work with players on a day-to-day basis.”
He also worked as an adjunct professor of Sports and the Law at Georgetown University.
Jones’ tenure with the World Series champion Nationals began in 2008. His duties have included player contracts and salary arbitration. He was also responsible for the legal affairs of the Washington Nationals Dream Foundation and the Nationals’ Youth Baseball Academy.