Alumni Association To Honor Former Hoops Standout

Alumni Association To Honor Former Hoops Standout

April 7, 2006

By Erin Hussey
SCU Athletic Media Relations

SANTA CLARA, Calif. - Thirty years after Santa Clara University opened its doors to eager students and knowledgeable faculty, the SCU Alumni Association was formed. April 27, 1881 marks the Association's official birth date and thus this spring all members of Santa Clara Alumni family are invited to join together and celebrate its 125th year milestone.

Several festivities will take place during the weekend of April 28 and 29, including a pre-game BBQ, baseball game and an evening honoring outstanding alumni, including former Bronco basketball player and assistant coach Kevin Eagleson '70.

The Alumni BBQ will take place on Saturday, April 28th at 5:30 p.m. at the Kerr Alumni Park located between Buck Shaw Stadium and the Leavey Center. Following the picnic, the Santa Clara Broncos will face-off against historic and cross-bay rival Saint Mary's College at the beautiful new Stephen Schott Stadium. A $20 ticket includes the BBQ and game day ticket.

Make plans to attend the SCU Alumni Association's 125th Anniversary celebration. Click here for details.

On the subsequent night a semi-formal dinner will honor both the 2006 Ignatian and Bannan Award recipients. Eagleson along with Julie Burns Christensen '70 were chosen to receive the Ignatian Award because of their outstanding services to humanity. The SCU Alumni Association established this award in 1981, during its 100th anniversary. Its purpose is to publicly recognize alumni who live the SCU ideals of competence, conscience and compassion.

As a Bronco basketball player in the late sixties, Eagleson led SCU to a three-year record of 73-12, helped lead his team to three WCAC titles and three NCAA Regional appearances. In 1969 his team went 27-2 and was ranked as high as second in the nation.

After graduation, Eagleson taught at St. Joseph School in Menlo Park. But as many know, the salary of a Catholic school teacher does not go very far and in order to support his family, he poured concrete on the weekends in addition to grading papers and trying to make a difference in student's lives.

A few years later, Eagleson was hired as the principle at St. Martin's Elementary School. During his time there, he continued to put students first and when one was diagnosed with leukemia, Eagleson went to extreme lengths to support the family. He continually visited the hospital room and helped the student advance to fourth grade with the rest of his peers.

Following his stint at St. Martin's, Eagleson moved to St. Elizabeth Seton, where the local families were often below the poverty level. According to one of the teachers, he significantly improved the academics, bringing them up at an acceptable standard. Eagleson also opened his home to several students welcoming them to stay with him for long periods of time. In addition, he and his wife Diane become surrogate parents for many.

"Eagleson pours himself and his love into the school and it radiates down to the janitor," Mary Modeste Smoker '81, a close friend said. And when he left for Sacred Heart Nativity, the Seton teachers asked for "clone of Kevin Eagleson" for his replacement.

When Eagleson wasn't bettering student's lives as a principal, he was the inspiring athletes on the basketball court. During the 1979-81 seasons he was an assistant coach for Santa Clara along with current SCU head coach Dick Davey. He helped the players succeed both on and off the court. One the most famous players he coached was Kurt Rambis.

"Kevin is probably the most competitive human being I have ever been around," said Davey. "He has very high principles, is honest and loyal and, simply put, just a great person with a great temperament.

"I remember after every practice as an assistant coach, Kevin would stay afterward and play one-on-one with Kurt Rambis," said Davey. "And, although Kevin was 5'-10" and Kurt was 6'-8", the two guys would really go after each other and just battle. Both of them were really competitive and hated to lose."

Eagleson led SCU to a three-year record of 73-12 as a player in the late '60s. The Broncos won three WCAC titles and advanced to three NCAA regional appearances. The 1969 team went 27-2 and ranked as high as second in the nation.

Basketball remains a focus for the Eagleson family as his son, Brian, is the head boys coach locally at Archbishop Mitty High School in San Jose, Calif.

For more information on the baseball BBQ, Awards dinner and the other Anniversary celebrations, please contact the Alumni Association toll free at 866-554-6800.

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