Multi-sport star Pete Phelan to be inducted into Nevada Union Athletics Hall of Fame
Editor’s note: This is the 11th installment of a 17-part series chronicling the 2018 Nevada Union Athletics Hall of Fame inductees. Check back to The Union sports pages each day for a new profile on a Nevada Union legend.
When it came to athletics, Pete Phelan could do it all. And, he did it all at an elite level.
The 1979 Nevada Union graduate was a star athlete in football, basketball, track and tennis and for his efforts in several different competitive arenas, he will be inducted into the Nevada Union Athletics Hall of Fame Saturday.
Phelan, born and raised in Cedar Ridge, was a standout athlete early on. With his size and athleticism, he had his pick of sports. So he picked a handful and excelled at them all.
“It was a really good positive experience as far as self esteem, being around the right people and adopting an attitude of success and hard work,” said Phelan of his athletic endeavors at Nevada Union.
As a member of the football team, he played receiver and defensive back. He was an All-Sierra Foothill League First Team selection on offense and defense as a junior, and was named the league’s Co-Offensive Player of the Year as a senior. He was also named to the All-Metro Team as a receiver as a junior, and again as a defensive back his senior year.
“I had a serious advantage,” said Phelan, who was 6-foot, 4-inches tall and 200 pounds as a senior. “I was quick and had good hands, but more than anything I was super tall.”
In that 1978 season, Phelan also helped the Miners win their first ever league title by beating rival Placer, a memory that still brings him joy today.
“It was that Friday night lights thing,” Phelan said. “I don’t know if the town was smaller or maybe our success was newer, but there was a lot of buy in when any of the sports teams did well. At the time the stadiums and gyms were full.”
Phelan was also a star on the basketball team, playing for Nevada Union Athletics Hall of Famer Kermit Young and helping the Miners earn a pair of league titles in 1978 and 1979.
“Kermit was a demanding coach, but he got a lot out of us,” Phelan said.
Phelan earned All-SFL Second Team honors in his junior season and was an All-SFL First Teamer his senior season.
“It was another situation where we had a lot of good players, and very smart players,” said Phelan. “Between effort and intelligence, we executed really well.”
Phelan starred on the track team as well, setting freshman records for high and low hurdles.
Since three sports wasn’t enough, Phelan also played varsity tennis for two years as well.
Phelan had offers to go play college football at some well known institutions, but an interest in engineering guided him to the United States Merchant Marine Academy. He continued to play football, basketball and tennis while in college.
Phelan graduated with a degree in mechanical engineering and worked for the United States Government before moving into education. He is currently in his 31st year as a math and science teacher at the junior high level.
After college athletics, Phelan went on to win several Sacramento Grand Prix Tennis Championships. Nowadays he mostly sticks to biking and golf.
Phelan did express gratitude to his father for introducing him to sports and supporting him every step of the way.
“My father got me going in Little League at age 8 and I don’t know if he ever missed any of my games all the way through high school,” Phelan said.
He also noted Jack Murphy, a Union Hill teacher and coach, had a major impact on him and his athletic journey.
“Jack Murphy definitely spawned my early athletic career,” he said.
Phelan, who is happily married to his wife Vickie and lives in Pollock Pines, said he is honored to be included with the 2018 Nevada Union Athletics Hall of Fame class.
To contact Sports Editor Walter Ford, call 530-477-4232 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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