Next semester Fullerton College will don a new piece of hardware on campus. The most winning football coach in junior college history Hal Sherbeck will be adorned with bronze and erected outside the football field.
In 1961 Sherbeck was hired as Head Football Coach for Fullerton College. After hearing from countless players and coaches, one thing stood out in every story about the legendary coach. Sherbeck was a man way ahead of his time. Even more lasting than his record of 47 straight victories and three National titles, was his love.
In that era, even more so than today, football was considered a tough guy sport. The objective was to be tougher and stronger than the opponent. The brilliance of Sherbeck does not lie within the records and accolades he accumulated on the grid iron, his master stroke came in the way he affected his men off of the field.
Considered progressive even by today’s standards, Sherbeck expressed love for his players. This was the sixties okay, when John Wayne ruled the world. It was thought that a real man had to be the strong-silent type. Men just did not ever say “I love you,” to other men, especially in football.
“You have to treat people well and show them your love for them and that you care about them, and let them know that you are there for them,” said Sherbeck in 2011.
Dean of Fine Arts, Dr. Robert Jensen has taken on the project and even forgone retirement to see it through. The project grew legs during the FC Centennial Celebration. There were several candidates being recognized, Pat Nixon and Leo Fender of Fender Guitars to name a couple. However, Sherbeck’s story shined through.
“The point of telling the story, is going back into the world at that time,” Jensen said. “What I came away with was that the Sherbeck story needed to be told. Hal Sherbeck was not just a football coach, he was a mentor, and a father figure.”
The gravity of Sherbeck’s influence is hard to capture in a few paragraphs on a page. The outpouring of support is reflected in the contributions that have been received and how they have been received.
To date the donations have totaled nearly 50,000 dollars. The donations have poured in from former players, coaches and even family members of people that have passed on that were affected by Sherbeck.
“What set Sherbeck apart, was work with his players off the field,” Jensen said. “Sherbeck would meet with every player on his team every single offseason to ask them about their life goals and aspirations.”
Jensen and the committee commissioning the sculpture are aiming for June for the celebration, with over 1000 people whose lives have been touched by Sherbeck.
As it stands today, they are only about 2,000 off of completing the project.
“There are windows of opportunities that open and close, and this is our window to do this now,” Jensen said. “Even though we have been working on this for four years, everybody is saying ‘we will get this finished, we will see this through’ and when you hear that from athletes, you believe that.”
Former FC sculptor Don Treadway is the man tabbed to capture the likeness of the legendary coach. Treadway has created a scale sized model of the sculpture called a maquette. The maquette is basically a miniature version of the sculpture.
The maquette has been sent to Oregon to be enlarged. Once the enlarged mold has been made, Treadway will begin work filling in the facial features and fine details to make the sculpture really come to life.
There are a couple variables still to be worked out, like location and finalizing a date for the celebration. However, Jensen and committee are shooting for either next to Sherbeck football field or in front of the gymnasium. The current target date for the celebration is June 20, 2015. Jensen is confident that it will be completed somewhere in that time-frame.
While it has been a journey, Jensen is grateful that he has had the opportunity to work on this project.
“I would get inspired every time I talked to coach Sherbeck, I get inspired when I talk to his men, and I get inspired when I read the notes that come along with the checks,” Jensen said. “It’s this constant surge of goodwill, and I am loving being at the center just privileged to be part of it.”
If you are interested in contributing, make your check payable to the Fullerton College Foundation and send it to Bob Jensen, Fullerton College, 321 E Chapman Avenue, Fullerton, CA 92832.