Seven individuals and two teams were honored as the third class in the Clovis Unified School District Hall of Fame in a ceremony on Oct. 27 at Paul Shaghoian Concert Hall, recognized for their trailblazing efforts, talent and character.
Among the honored are the first Japanese-American to play in the Japan Major Leagues, an NFL two-time All-Pro player, a football legend who was also the No. 6 pick in the MLB draft, and the district’s first female state championship team.
The inductees include Satoshi “Fibber” Hirayama, McKay Christensen, Kristen Hastrup, David Lewis, Steve Mosher, Janet Yarbrough-Harvey, Coach Marian Battles, the 1993 Clovis West football team and the 1994 Buchanan girls cross country team.
The star-studded evening featured a tribute video to each inductee and a sit-down question and answer segment with George Takata. Honorees were presented with a commemorative medal and a crystal bowl trophy.
Christensen, a 1994 Clovis West graduate, was a heralded running back and a member of the 1993 14-0 Valley champion football team, scoring 44 touchdowns in the season. He was also named Cal-Hi Sports Male Athlete of the Year among numerous accolades. That same year he was drafted No. 6 overall by the California Angels and played in the Major Leagues for the Chicago White Sox, Los Angeles Dodgers and New York Mets.
After being drafted out of high school, Christensen served a two-year Mormon mission in Tokyo before returning to the United States to start his professional career. He retired from baseball in 2004 and currently lives in Utah.
Opposing coaches praised Christensen for not only his exceptional play on the athletic field but his character as a person.
“I feel extremely grateful with so much gratitude and am blown away that I get to be inducted with all the people today,” Christensen said. “There is a common thread that runs through so many of them and the success they’ve had and the things they go through to get there.
“It’s a tribute to Clovis Unified for the type of people that they raise, so to speak. I just feel blessed and grateful to be a part of it.”
Christensen holds such special place in the hearts of the community of Clovis as there are at least 15 boys currently enrolled in Clovis Unified named McKay.
Tim Simons, the 2016 CUSD Hall of Fame Clovis football inductee, said this about Christensen: “When he put his foot in the ground and cut to the goal line, he was like lightning just going through our defense or anyone’s defense.”
Satoshi “Fibber” Hirayama was presented with the Dr. Floyd B. “Doc” Buchanan Award, given to an individual who has made an impact on Clovis Unified’s athletic program through his or her involvement and support of athletics.
From 1965-1991, Hirayama was a teacher and administrator in Clovis Unified, most notably at Gatewood High School were he thrived as a mentor and principal.
Hirayama was a standout baseball and football player at Fresno State after spending three years in internment camp as a youth during World War II. From 1955-65, he played for the Hiroshima Carps and was the first Japanese-American to play in the Japan Major Leagues.
Kristen Hastrup is a 2004 Clovis West graduate, a 16-time CIF Section swimming champion and a member of four Central Section championship teams. At Auburn she was a three-time All-American, a school record holder in the 200 fly and an Academic All-American who qualified for the 2000, 2004 and 2008 Olympic trials.
Hastrup, whose married name is Strength, understands the value of growing up in Clovis and is thankful for the people who poured into her life, thanking her parents for the support over the years.
“I really appreciate Clovis Unified because it got me where I got where I am today,” said Hastrup, an OBGYN doctor who currently lives in Santa Clara with her husband and two daughters. “Without my swimming I wouldn’t have got into the university I did and without that I wouldn’t have got into medical school to become a doctor.”
Decade: Pre 1960’s/1960’s/1970’s
(Clovis High) Played football and basketball as a Cougar, graduating in 1963. All-Conference quarterback at Stanford. Drafted by New York Giants and also played for the Bengals. Led the NFL in punting for two seasons in 1970 and 1971.
Decade: Pre 1960’s/1960’s/1970’s
(Clovis) Standout track star, four-time NYL champion; a section champion, state champion in 110 low hurdles, graduating in 1980. An all-time record holder in low hurdles and long jump at DeAnza College; and an all-time record holder in long jump at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo. Placed 7th in 1984 Olympic trials in long jump, 10th in 1988.
(Clovis West High) Legendary water polo coach from 1978-2015. During his tenure, Clovis West won 14 section titles and 10 runner-up finishes. Overall record was 795-355-1 and coached 65 All-Americans and one Olympian.
(Clovis West) Football and baseball, graduating in 1994 after attending Fort Washington and Kastner Intermediate School. Northern California Football Player of the Year, Cal-Hi Sports Mr. California Baseball and Cal-Hi Sports California Athlete of the Year. USA Today baseball All-American, stole 62 consecutive bases. 1993 Valley champion in football when he scored 44 touchdowns. Taken No. 6 in the 1994 MLB Draft and played eight seasons of professional baseball, including the White Sox, Dodgers and Mets in the Major Leagues.
(Buchanan High) Girls volleyball coach from 1994-2012 with 11 conference titles and seven section titles at Buchanan. Second winningest coach in Central Section history with 838 wins; 2002, 2007 CIF State Southern Section Finalist.
(Clovis West) Swimming sensation, graduating in 2004. Eight-time individual section champion and eight-time relay section champion, four-time CIF Section Championship team, 2004 Clovis West Female Athlete of the Year and 15-time high school All-American. Three-time NCAA All-American at Auburn University, holding record in 200 fly first team, ESPN The Magazine Academic All-American. Olympic qualifier in 2000, 2004 and 2008.
1993 Clovis West High Football Team
The 1993 Golden Eagles football team went undefeated 14-0, were the Central Section Champion and ranked No. 8 in the nation by USA Today under head coach Randy Blankenship and his vaunted Wing-T offense. Beat previously unbeaten Bakersfield 27-14 in the Central Section championship game and finished No. 3 in the state.
1994 Buchanan High Girls Cross Country
The Buchanan High 1994 girls cross country team accomplished a first when it became the only cross country team in the district to win the state championship coached by Marty Simpson, Brian Weaver and Cherie Santagate. Members include: Corrine Atkins, Rachel Bauer, Lisa Ford, Tiffany Heibut, Jocelyn Keller, Heather Ryan and Shelly Syvertsen.
Satoshi “Fibber” Hirayama
Doc Buchanan Award
Satoshi “Fibber” Hirayama worked for the district from 1965 to 1991 as a teacher, principal and administrator. He was the first Japanese-American to play baseball for the Japan Major League and was a two-time All-Star. The baseball great, who spent three years in an internment camp as a youngster, was a standout baseball and football player at Fresno State. He was the first three-year All-League Baseball Player for the Bulldogs. He played for the Saint Louis Browns in the minors before being drafted into the Army. During his time with Clovis Unified, he was an active supporter of athletics.