Glory Days; Although they may pass quickly, no one ever forgets their athletic
Glory days. They’ll pass you by. Glory days. In the wink of a young girl’s eye. Glory days, glory days. – Bruce Springsteen.
You work with them. You live next door to them. They appear perfectly ordinary in all respects.
But some of your neighbors have been hiding something from you – they were athletic “stars” in high school.
In recognition of Homecoming this week, the Sierra Sun dug up some old Wolverine yearbooks to “glance back” at some former Tahoe-Truckee High School athletes who are still in town and let them fondly recall their “Glory Days.”
Class of ’66
A three-sport star at TTHS in the mid-’60s, today John Besio is perhaps best-known as the physical education teacher at Sierra Mountain Middle School who can be seen Nordic skiing in shorts during the dead of winter.
But “Mr. Besio” was, during his high school days, a threat to Truckee’s opponents in football, basketball and baseball.
“I believe I was the first Truckee athlete to play three sports all four years of high school,” said Besio, who earned five junior varsity letters and seven varsity letters between 1963 and 1966. “We used to play some tough teams in those days, including Del Oro, Colusa and Lincoln.”
Besio can still single out some special athletic moments more than 30 years after his graduation.
“The best moment I had came when we beat Del Oro in basketball,” Besio said. “The most fun I had occurred when we beat Colfax in football in a game that was played in six inches of mud.”
Besio, who was also the TTHS class president in ’66, said people who live in Truckee today wouldn’t believe how small the town once was.
“My family used to live on the street next to where the Swedish House currently stands (on East River Street),” Besio said. “We used to play kick-the-can and, believe it or not, we would put the ‘can’ right in the middle of intersection of Highway 267 and East River Street. Hardly any cars came by then; today I think more than 10,000 cars a day travel through that intersection.”
Besio, who went on to earn his degree from University of California, Davis, and has been teaching in Truckee schools since 1974, doesn’t plan on moving anytime soon.
“My parents were born and raised here, and I’ve always thought Truckee was a great place to live,” Besio said.
Class of ’85
Although today she walks the halls of Tahoe-Truckee High School as an unassuming Health and Drivers’ Education teacher, Kathy McClintock was a veritable Charles Barkley during her career on the varsity basketball team in the mid-’80s.
“Cathy was real tough under the basket,” said 1985 girls’ varsity basketball (and current boys’ soccer) coach Larry Leatherman. “The first thing she thought about when she got the ball was going straight back up for the basket.”
McClintock, who averaged seven points per game her senior season,
Mike Diaz, Class of ’79
When asked what his statistics were back in the late ’70’s, Mike Diaz, the owner of Taco Station Restaurant, claims that individual stats weren’t even recorded in “the old days.”
“The only statistic kept was whether you won or lost,” Diaz said.
Diaz was Truckee’s top running back and punt returner his junior and senior seasons for the varsity, once scoring three touchdowns in a varsity game against Colfax, but his favorite football memory came from his JV days while playing for Nick Santamaria, who’s currently the principal at Sierra Mountain Middle School.
“It was the ’35 double dive play’ and it went for 75 yards the first time,” Diaz said. “It worked so well Coach called it again and then it went for 60 yards – I thinked I finished with 140 yards in the game.”
After graduation, Diaz played football for a season at Grossmont Junior College in San Diego. After working in construction for several years, Diaz returned to Truckee in 1991 and opened Taco Station in 1994. He remains an ardent supporter of TTHS football, feeding the team breakfast before each home game.
“I plan on living in Truckee and being a supporter of Truckee football the rest of my life,” Diaz said, “except if I get to retire in Pebble Beach.”
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