Perhaps it is the history of California State University, Chico (CSUC) that inspires not only the university population, but the entire community, to cheer on the programs, including athletics. The NCAA Division II men’s and women’s Wildcats basketball teams are inspirational participants for my Alma Mater.
Coach Art Acker coached the men’s basketball team for many years. In 1937, his team won the first Far Western Conference Championship for Chico. Even after retirement, Coach Acker continued his support of the basketball and other athletic programs in Chico. He attended every game until, in 1991, he passed on to the big court in the sky, at 99 years of age. Because of Coach Acker’s dedication and participation in encouraging the best in education and sports at CSUC, the gymnasium is named in his honor.
The Wildcats’ men’s basketball team shines with a fast-break attack, giving an opportunity to confuse their opponents and quickly move the ball down the court. This helped them move to the NCAA tournament in 2004.
Mackay “Mac” Martin enrolled at Chico State; like many, his education was interrupted when he joined the Navy during WWII. He resumed his place in the student body when the war ended, and got a job at the college after graduation.
Like so many other alumni, he created programs and opportunities for the school to progress. His job included overseeing the athletics program and team transportation. After retiring in 1976, he was able to be even more involved in the athletic program. He successfully pushed for an Athletic Hall of fame in 1985. Recognition of his skill and passion led to his being chosen as director of the Chico Invitational Basketball Tournament, which originated in 1960. It was later renamed the Mac Martin Chico Invitational Basketball Tournament, a traditional recognition of man who believed in the value of CSUC’s history and creed.
The Wildcat’s women’s basketball focuses on providing a fulfilling and successful experience for the athletes, university community, and residents of the area. Consecutive trips to the NCAA tournament are accomplishing that goal.
Coach Fran Coslet led the way for the Wildcat’s women’s basketball team. Their first coach, she held the position as Head Coach from 1969 to 1989. Under her tutelage, the Wildcat’s won back-to-back conference championships in 1970/71 and 1971/72.
In 2006, Chico State Athletic Director Anita Barker invited Coslet to join the team at the NCAA Championship Tournament West Regional. She accepted, and when the Wildcats won the game, told reporters she was “proud to know all of the years that went into building this program.”
Fran Coslet was inducted in CSUC’s Athletic Hall of Fame in 2005. The annual Coslet Classic tournament, named for Coach Coslet, gives Wildcat basketball fans an early-season look at the women’s basketball team and its Division II competition.
Sometimes dedication, persistence, and honor create a better tradition and reason to be proud of an association with one’s Alma Mater than an act of symbolism, such as stealing the other team’s mascot. I am pleased that CSUC still recognizes the importance of these values.
CSUC Catalog, Traditions
CSUC, Distinguished Alumni Service Award
CSTV Sports, “Western gets big assist form Chico State”
CSUC, Education Archives