Edgar Clark and Leonard Guinn are arguably the first two African American athletes to be star players at Fullerton College.
“I know that we were not the first black athletes on campus,” said Guinn. “There was at least a couple that came before us. “
At the time they had to face racism just to be able to step on the court.
“There was always people trying to get in our heads on the court with slurs,” Clark said. “It was also pretty hard to find someone who would let us stay with them.
In June of 1959, Clark and Guinn packed their bags and left their homes in Detroit to come play basketball at Fullerton College.
The head coach of the Hornets at the time, Alex Omalev, went to the same high school in Detroit as Clark and established the connection that way.
“Coach Omalev was a legend as far as coaching goes,” Guinn said. “Edgar was the best player on the East Side and I was the best on the West Side so he wanted us over here.”
Right from the beginning, Clark and Guinn took over the California community college basketball scene by playing a style of basketball that was basically foreign to the area.
“We were from the East, so we were used to a run and gun style of basketball,” Guinn said. “At the time, California basketball was more about setting your play up and passing the ball around. A lot of teams were not ready for us.”
Edgar almost came to Fullerton a year earlier and if he would have, the Fullerton College record books would look very different had Guinn and Clark only spent one year together.
“I almost came out in 1958, but the guys I was going to come out with went into the service and I did not want to come alone,” said Clark. “Then, in 1959, Coach Omalev came out to see his family and asked me if I still wanted to go. So on June 20, 1959, I came to Fullerton and I have been here ever since.”
The 1959-1960 season saw the Hornets dominate play in Southern California before going on to lose in the State Finals against San Jose College.
The 1960-1961 season saw the Hornets make it back to the championship game against the same San Jose team. This time, the result was different.
“Winning that state title was really special to me,” Guinn said. “I lost the State Championship Game my senior year of high school in a row. So, to win one after losing two in a row, against a team that beat us the year before was really special.”
The two men are etched in the Fullerton College record books to this day. Guinn is second all time in scoring behind fellow FC Hall of Famer, Walt Simon, with 1,436 points. He also still holds the school’s rebound record with 394 in 1960-1961. He averaged over ten rebounds per game that year.
During that season, Guinn and Clark combined for 1,462 points, a school record for a pair of teammates. Clark was named state MVP for the season. Clark also was a standout on the track team for two years, where he won another state title.
“I would like to have it known that I was the leading scorer on the team over those two years by one point,” Guinn said.
“He got that point on a basket they gave him when I tipped it in,” Clark added.
Both men went on to enjoy successful playing careers at Orange State University (now Cal State Fullerton.)