FIRST CLASS: Humphries, Penaluna, Ellis, Mitchell, Kays, Snipe and Hansen Brothers Enterprises to be inducted to NUHS Hall of Fame
Editor’s note: This is the third and final part of a three-part series profiling the first class of inductees to the Nevada Union High School Athletic Hall of Fame. Featured today are Randy Humphries, William Penaluna, Butch Ellis, Gary Mitchell, Tim Kays, Roger Snipe and Hansen Brothers Enterprises.
Nevada Union High School is set to host its inaugural Hall of Fame induction ceremony today, recognizing and celebrating the top athletes, coaches and community contributors from its early years.
Here’s a look at seven of the 15 that will be inducted today:
Class of 1966
Football, basketball, baseball
When Randy Humphries looks back on his time at Nevada Union one moment sticks out above the rest.
In 1965, the Miners football team was hosting Oroville at the fairgrounds and Nevada Union was trailing by six points late in the fourth quarter. With the ball about 15 yards away from pay dirt, coach Jim Guinn sent in a special tackle-eligible play of his own creation.
“We ran the play and everyone of our guys did their jobs perfectly and Terry Lewis, our excellent left tackle, was wide open,” Humphries recalled. “So wide open that I got a little nervous, and thought I might blow the pass. However, we completed the pass and secured our come-from-behind victory and did it using coach Guinn’s special play.”
Humphries said those types of moments were made possible because the coaching he received at Nevada Union fostered a never-quit attitude and a belief that victory was always within reach.
“One of the things that I felt and still feel strongly about is that the overall attitude at Nevada Union was that we always felt we had a chance to win. We never gave up,” he said. “We’re always in it. I always felt that was the case. We weren’t trying to tell ourselves we were in it. We truly believed it.
“Sports are about the team and I always thought the coaches at Nevada Union did a good job of fostering that.”
Humphries was a three-sport standout at Nevada Union, excelling in football, basketball and baseball. As the quarterback at Nevada Union, Humphries was a First Team All-Sierra Football League selection in 1965 and was selected for two All Star Games. In basketball, Humphries played forward and made the All-SFL Second Team in 1966. He also played catcher on the baseball team and was named Nevada Union’s Best Male Athlete Class of 1966.
His talent and determination, as well as his academic prowess, propelled him to impressive heights at the college level. Humphries attended UC Berkeley, where he was a three-year varsity letter winner on the football team.
In 1967, Humphries worked his way into the starting quarterback spot for Cal in his sophomore season, and became the full time starter in 1968. That year he led the Golden Bears to a victory over rival Stanford in the “Big Game” and was recognized as the Associated Press Northern California “Back of the Week.” He received the Golden Bear of the Week award after leading Cal to a 39-15 victory over UCLA. That win coupled with a blowout win over Syracuse helped Cal reach a No. 8 national ranking.
The 1968 season was Humphries best statistical year with Cal. He finished fourth in the pac-8 in total offense, and two of the players above him on the list were Jim Plunkett and O.J. Simpson.
After college Humphries got into commercial real estate and is now retired. He boasts of his wife and four children.
“My most important accomplishment is that my wife and I have been fortunate to raise four children into responsible adults. I think the influence of sports and my athletic accomplishments enabled us to instill the importance of doing your best, working hard, teamwork, sportsmanship and being a leader into their lives.”
Class of 1966
Baseball, basketball, cross country
William Penaluna was immersed in sport at a very young age.
“Basically I was brought up in an athletic family,” Penaluna said. “Since the day I could walk I had a baseball, basketball or football in my hands.”
That worked out well for Nevada Union, where Penaluna was a two-year varsity letter winner in baseball and basketball, and a one-year varsity letter winner in cross country. Penaluna was the MVP of both the baseball and basketball teams. He was all-league in baseball in 1965 and all-league in basketball in 1966.
“For me, being an athlete was a way to get ahead. I worked at it and it got me a college education.”
After high school, Penaluna attended Sierra College, where he was a two-year starter on the baseball team and basketball team. In 1968, he starred on the basketball court, making the all-conference team, the All-Northern California First Team and was named the Defensive Player of the Year.
Because of his efforts at Sierra College, Penaluna received a scholarship to the University of Nevada, Reno, where he spent two seasons on the basketball team and two seasons on the baseball team.
Penaluna credits his coaches at Nevada Union for instilling a desire to excel in academics as well as athletics.
“They were on us about academics,” he recalled. “They kept on me and I did what I was supposed to.”
After college, Penaluna became an educator and a coach. He started his educational career at Bishop Manogue High School in Reno where he coached varsity basketball, varsity baseball and junior varsity football. He would also go on to coach cross country and girls basketball at Bishop Manogue. He was named the Northern 2A’s Coach of the Year in basketball in 1976 and 1977, the Coach of the Year in baseball in 1976 and the All-Sports Coach of the Year in 1976-77. He then made his way to Reno High School where he led a highly successful baseball team. Penaluna’s overall record as a high school baseball coach is 345-167. His 1984 team won a state championship and he was named the Northern Coach of the Year in 1983, 1984 and 1994. Penaluna also had a winning record as a basketball coach, going 101-49 on the court. In 1994 he took over the athletic director position at Reno High School and remained their until his retirement in 2005.
Penaluna also continued to compete on the diamond, playing in eight World Softball Tournaments and earning All-World First Team honors in 1976 and 1977, and being named the MVP in 1977 after his team became World Champions. In the early 90s, Penaluna also competed in seven ASA National Tournaments, winning the B National Championship on 1990 and the Over 40 National Championship in 1992 and again in 1993.
In addition to being inducted into the Nevada Union High School Hall of Fame, Penaluna has been inducted into the Nevada Interscholastic Activities Association Hall of Fame and the Reno High School Hall of Fame.
Penaluna looks back fondly on his time at Nevada Union, citing the many memorable moments and friendships forged.
“You remember those days more so than any other days,” he said. “Those were some of the greatest times of my life.”
Arthur “Butch” Ellis
Class of 1967
Football, basketball, baseball
Born and raised in Grass Valley Arthur “Butch” Ellis grew up with a fondness for the local high school sports scene.
“Growing up, high school sports was the only game in town and so by fourth grade I was paying attention to who the athletes were at NU. I always envisioned playing at Nevada Union.”
When Ellis got to Nevada Union he not only played, but played at a very high level. He was a two-year varsity letter winner in football, basketball and baseball. He was an all-leaguer in all three sports and was the football team’s MVP in 1967.
Ellis said if it wasn’t for his love of sports, he would have dropped out of Nevada Union in his junior year.
“Sports was my motivation to stay in high school. I nearly dropped out,” he recalled.
Ellis’ passion for sports not only kept him enrolled at Nevada Union, but allowed him an opportunity to get a college education. As a receiver at Nevada Union, Ellis was an electric playmaker who helped the Miners to back-to-back second place finishes in their league. Due to his efforts, Ellis drew a lot of attention from college’s but very few offers that came with a scholarship. He opted for San Jose State, where he was eventually able to earn a scholarship. While playing at San Jose State, Ellis led the Spartans in receptions (46), receiving yards (691) and receiving touchdowns (4) in 1969. He was also named the Offensive Player of the Week once and set a then record for most catches and most receiving yards in a game.
After college, Ellis made his way back to Grass Valley. With the Secondary Education degree he earned at San Jose State, he began teaching and coaching at Nevada Union.
“Sports has always been my life, and when I started teaching I knew I wanted to coach,” Ellis said.
Ellis would spend 35 years at his high school alma mater, teaching history, social studies and economics. He also helped create the Humanities Academy at NU and was the activities director.
As a coach, Ellis ran various basketball, baseball and football teams at NU. He spent 20-plus years coaching NU basketball and led the junior varsity team to five league championships.
“I was a coach for a long time and I’ll tell you the truth about coaching. When you win it’s because you have good players. When you lose it’s the coach’s fault.”
Class of 1970
Football, basketball, baseball
When Gary Mitchell discovered he would be part of Nevada Union High School Hall of Fame’s inaugural class he was overcome with happiness.
“I cried happy tears,” Mitchell said. “It’s something I never expected. It’s really emotional because I looked up to and respected Albert Ali so much. It’s just such a great honor.”
Mitchell was a two-year varsity letter winner in football, basketball and baseball at Nevada Union. He was an All-League quarterback in football twice and Nevada Union’s Jim Brown Award winner in 1969, which goes to the football team’s MVP.
After his time at Nevada Union, Mitchell went to Sierra College to play for Homer “Buzz” Ostrom. Ostrom recognized Mitchell’s potential as a passing quarterback and decided the Wolverines were going to air it out that season. It was a good call. Mitchell threw for more than 2,400 yards and 25 touchdowns in his freshmen season, leading Sierra College to a 7-3 record. Mitchell was named the league MVP and made the All-State Team that season.
An injury cut Mitchell’s sophomore season short, but he still received a football scholarship to UC Riverside.
When Mitchell looks back on his time playing football for the Miners, he reflects on the friendships he made.
“The camaraderie,” he noted was what has stuck with him throughout the years. “We had a heck of a football team. We had a great group of guys, and I never lost those friends.”
Mitchell added that he is truly honored to be going into the Nevada Union High School Hall of Fame with the likes of Rich Brooks, Randy Humphries and Butch Ellis, who were all players he looked up to.
“To get in with those guys is special,” he said. “Just a great honor.”
After his college playing days, Mitchell stayed on the field as much as he could as a coach. He coached Little League and girls softball from 1970-2005 and coached youth basketball from 1999-2005. Mitchell’s company has also held two golf fundraisers for hospice and cancer aid.
Track and field, cross country, basketball, football
Tim Kays is beloved by the athletes he coached, and he loved to be their coach.
“Nevada Union was his life,” said Kays’ daughter Teri Heauser. “He was there all the time. He went there first thing in the morning and came home in the evening after practice. He loved it. Even after he retired he was always there. He really did bleed blue and gold.”
Kays passed away in 2013, leaving behind a legacy of athletic and academic guidance that helped shaped many lives.
“He always emphasized to us to do our best in sports, but to give equal importance to our class work,” said fellow Nevada Union High School inductee Randy Humphries. “He always emphasized the academics side and he had some really innovative ideas when it came to basketball.”
Kays in credited with starting the Nevada Union Invitational Basketball Tournament in 1973. He also started the Nevada Union cross country Invitational, which was later changed to the Tim Kays Cross Country Invitational after his retirement.
Kays’ passion for mentoring Nevada County’s youth also led him to start an open gym every Saturday to give the local kids an opportunity to learn the fundamentals of basketball and provide a safe place for the young people to hang out.
“He wasn’t just a great teacher and great coach, but he was a great person,” Kays’ daughter Tracie Kays said. “He is truly one of the greatest men to walk the Earth.”
Tim Kays grew up in San Francisco where, “If the street lights were on, he was out playing basketball,” Tracie Kays said.
As a young adult, Tim Kays went to Georgetown College in Kentucky, where he earned a degree in Education. He later earned a Masters Degree in Physical Education at Chico State. Kays met his wife, Connie, while teaching at Los Molinos High School in the early 1950s. They then came to Grass Valley where they raised five children.
“He loved his family, he loved the kids he coached and he had integrity,” Heauser said.
Tim Kays coached several members of the inaugural Nevada Union High School Hall of Fame class, of which many credited him for putting them on the right path to success.
Even after his retirement, Tim Kays continued to coach youth teams and individuals. He was also quick to volunteer his time at meets.
Track and field, cross country
Roger Snipe left a lasting impression on the athletes he coached, helping them become the athletes they hoped to be and achieve goals they never though possible.
“He had the greatest influence on my life other than my parents,” Nevada Union High School Hall of Fame inductee Bob Rush said. “He was quite the character and a great coach. He was way ahead of his time and he was fun to run for.”
One of the greatest Nevada Union athletes of all time, Louis LeDuc, also spoke highly of Snipe.
“He was well organized and knew his stuff. He was very smart,” LeDuc recalled.
For fellow Nevada Union High School Hall of Fame inductee Dick Hotchkiss, it was Snipe that inspired a long and decorated athletic career.
“Roger Snipe was the impetus for me to get involved in athletics,” Hotchkiss said.
In addition to track and cross country, Snipe taught physical education and science at Nevada Union.
Hansen Brothers Enterprises
Hansen Brothers Enterprises was the very first community business to be a contributor to Nevada Union High School and are still a major contributor today.
“It’s quite an honor,” said Jeff Hansen of HBE being included in the Nevada Union High School Hall of Fame’s first class. “We didn’t really expect it. We just like to help out the community, especially for the kids.”
Hansen Brothers Enterprises was established in 1953, the same year as Nevada Union High School.
The construction products and services company has donated money, labor and equipment/materials to the local high school ever since, including work done to Hooper Stadium and the wrestling gym.
“Just about every field up there, we’ve worked on,” said Hansen.
Hansen Brothers Enterprises, originally established by brothers Arlie, Iver Jr. and Karsten Hansen, has always shown an interest in the community, especially programs that benefit young people.
“We support youth programs in general, whether it’s athletic or educational, we try to support as many as we can,” Jeff Hansen said. “They are the next generation. We just want them to be successful, because that means the community is successful as a whole.”
Today Hansen Brothers Enterprises has around 125 employees and is still an active community contributor, providing support to numerous service, theatrical, educational and athletic groups in Nevada and Placer counties. The company has grown over the years, but remains family owned and operated.
To contact Sports Editor Walter Ford, call 530-477-4232 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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