Joe White’s legacy lives on at Hancock

The 11th annual Joe White Memorial Dinner and Auction is scheduled for Saturday at the Santa Maria Fairpark. Visitors look through one of the silent auction tables at the 2009 dinner.

It started out as a lark. A way to honor longtime Allan Hancock College athletics director Joe White.

Originally, the dinner-auction was going to raise funds to upgrade the Hancock Sports Pavilion and name it after White, who led the growth of AHC athletics from the 1950s to the ‘70s.

Thus, the Joe White Memorial Dinner and Auction was born. The Hancock Boosters and Joe White Committee will hold the 11th Annual dinner this Saturday, Aug. 18, at the Santa Maria Fairpark.

Under the watch of White, Hancock won two state championships in basketball and one in baseball, while other sports thrived with several conference championships.

After the first three dinners were successful, raising enough funds to refurbish Hancock’s gym and rename it the Joe White Memorial Gymnasium, the organization decided to continue on.

“We never intended to do 11 when we started this thing out,” said the fundraiser’s chairman, Jim Glines.

Glines, the president and chief executive officer of the Community Bank of Santa Maria, spearheaded the dinner and continues to remain quite active in the event, including being the auctioneer for the evening.

“We originally intended to pay $150,000 for the naming rights to the gymnasium,” Glines continued. “Once they got the seats out and the floor in, they realized that the gym had not been painted since day one and the lights had a hum to them and had never been replaced.

“So we willingly added another $15,000 to our commitment to get it painted, and we got new lights along with the new floor and the new bleachers.”

The committee is 11 years in and still going strong.

“Everybody had so much fun, it just didn’t seem like the right thing to do to quit,” Glines said. “So we then picked John Osborne and put up a new scoreboard and renamed the baseball field.”

John Osborne was a longtime baseball coach who also took over the athletics director position at Hancock. In 1972, Osborne led the Bulldogs to the state championship and over his 31-year career, won 698 games.

“We also did some work on the dugouts,” Glines said. “Then we put a new scoreboard at the soccer field, went back into the gymnasium and re-did the sound system — that was about $50,000 — we did a new scorers table and a new scoreboard.”

Recently the Joe White fund has helped with the softball field.

“We installed a new scoreboard there,” Glines said. “We re-did the new infield, re-seeded the outfield and put in batting cages. Now we’ve done some work on the dugouts and there is more work to do there.”

Finding that there’s much more to accomplish on what it started, the dinner committee continues on and each August, has thrown a successful party that continues to thrive.

“It’s been fun,” Glines said. “We open the doors at 5:30 p.m., Billy Ruiz and Cowboy Flavor serve dinner at 7:07, prompt on the spot. And it’s as good a New York strip dinner that you will find any place, homemade tamales, Gina’s Piece of Cake gives us the finest eclairs you ever saw in your life.

“Somebody wanted to know if we ever vary the menu and I said, ‘no, somebody might get hurt if we changed it.’”

The auction has always been spirited with unique items made available. Bill Bertka, an NBA legend with 43 years on the bench and is also the first Hancock coach to lead a team to the state championship when he directed the Bulldogs to the 1957 state basketball title. Each year, Bertka has donated items for the auction including an autographed Laker team ball every year.

Glines explained that this year, Bertka donated a ball signed by just Kobe Bryant.

“Kobe is a certain Hall of Famer,” Glines said, “So I’m not sure that ball doesn’t have more collector value than a team ball.”

Glines said this year’s auction will feature a chair-back from Soldier Field in Chicago that is autographed by Hall Of Fame running back, the Gale Sayers. There will also be an autographed photo of Olympic hero Michael Phelps.

Of course, up for auction, there will be a good mixture of dinners from local restaurants like the Hitching Post, Hitching Post II, Trattoria Uleveto and Central City Market, to name a few, along with trips and other items that have always been popular at the auction.

“I think we’ve always have had a strong live auction lineup and it’s as strong this year as it’s ever been,” Glines said.

The no-host cocktail hour begins at 5:30 p.m. and is a great way for people to meet the Hancock coaches and members of the athletic staff, along with several student-athletes who act as servers at the dinner.

To make a reservation or for more information, contact Donna at 598-4840. Gold tables, which seat at party of 10, are priced at $1,000 and include wine and special service. Silver tables, also for parties of 10, are $500. Single tickets can be purchased for $40. Hancock claims the dinner and auction has raised $525,000 for the school, improving the various athletic facilities at the school.

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