A quintet of All-American and record-setting athletes are joined by its longest-serving men's basketball coach to form the Ventura College Athletic Hall of Fame's sixth class, unveiled earlier this month by the VC Athletic Association.
The class includes basketball coach George Hails and his guard Paul Harvey '56, as well as football guard Lex Byrd '56, runner George Gibb '66, swimmer Jeff Barrett '03 and softball shortstop Tisha Duran '04,
"This class is probably the most diverse class inducted into the hall," said VCAA president Ric Ruffinelli. "I'm just really excited. We keep reaching back and finding those people from the past that deserve to be honored."
The class will be inducted in a ceremony May 6 at Crowne Plaza Ventura Beach.
After enjoying legendary success in four years under Indiana native Elmer McCall, the Ventura College men's basketball team turned to an Illinois native in 1952.
Hails arrived to steady the ship, guiding the Pirates to nine straight winning seasons from 1951-52 to 1960-61, including five 20-win seasons, two Western State Conference titles and a pair of fourth-place finishes in the state tournament in 1955 and 1959.
Hails, who also coached golf, tennis and football at VC, stepped down as basketball coach after a heart attack in 1967. His 15-year tenure is the longest in school history. His 225 wins make him the program's second-winningest coach.
A year not surviving a second heart attack, Hails, 50, was posthumously inducted into the CCCMBCA Hall of Fame in 1970. He is also an inductee of the Centralia, Ill. Hall of Fame.
Hail's first star was guard Paul Harvey, who guided the Pirates to a 25-10 record, a WSC title and a state semifinal berth in 1954-55. Harvey earned team MVP, NJCAA All-Region 1 and honorable mention All-American honors as a sophomore in 1955-56, when the Pirates were 20-10.
A centerpiece of a golden era of midwest basketball history, Harvey is also an inductee of the Indiana Basketball Hall of Fame. With McCall as his coach, Harvey led South Bend Central High to its first state championship in 1953, topping Milan High in the state semifinal a year before it earned "Hoosiers" immortality.
Ever-present guard Byrd was the foundation of coach Paul Gannatal's first two football teams.
Byrd started all 19 games during his two-year career, earning All-American honors in 1955. After VC, He played for Cal State Los Angeles (1957-58) and the Toronto Argonauts and coached at the University of Toronto.
Hard-charging half-miler Gibb left a book of records in his wake in both cross country and track.
Gibb set seven course records in 1965 in earning cross-country team MVP honors. He was also MVP of the track team in 1966, when he ran 1:53.44 in the 800 meters. The mark remains the school record and among the five fastest in state history.
Ferocious freestyler Barrett, a 14-time WSC champion, five-time state champion and three-time national champion, is one of the most decorated swimmers in VC history.
The Nordhoff High graduate was an All-American in 16 events over the two seasons. As a sophomore in 2003, when he earned WSC Athlete of the Year honors, he successfully defended his 2002 state title in the 200 freestyle and added state titles in the 100 free, 500 free and 800 free relay.
He still holds school records in the two events in which he earned national titles, the 200 freestyle (1:38.50) and 500 freestyle (4:31.26). After VC, he spent two years at Arizona State, competed in the U.S. Olympic trials and swam professionally in Europe.
Duran was the slugging shortstop for the 2004 WSC North champion VC softball team.
The Channel League MVP at Buena High, Duran took the next step at VC, hitting .509 with nine triples, four home runs and 53 RBIs to earn WSC North Player of the Year, first-team All-State and county Female College Athlete of the Year honors.
Duran moved onto UC Santa Barbara, where she was a first-team All-Big West Conference selection. She has returned to Buena High as head softball coach.