Jaime Ramirez, who excelled in soccer as a player and a coach at Fresno Pacific, and James Patrick, the winningest high school baseball coach in Valley history, headline this year’s inductees into the Fresno County Athletic Hall of Fame.
Fresno State’s NCAA record and Olympic javelin thrower Todd Riech, former Fresno State basketball star Rolland Todd who became the Portland Trail Blazers’ first coach in 1970, and Fresno State’s 1968 NCAA College Division national champion men’s tennis team will also be inducted.
“We have three high-profile coaches, an Olympian, and a national championship team,” said FCAHOF President Gena Strang-Behrens. “This is a terrific class.”
The 64th annual enshrinement event is Wednesday, Sept. 20, at the hall’s permanent home inside the Save Mart Center. Individual tickets priced at $90 are available at this link.
Here is a look at the inductees:
James Patrick — Baseball
On May 22, 2019, the Clovis High School baseball team defeated Frontier, 14-3, to win the Division I Central Section championship. It was the ninth section championship in Cougars history and also the last game in Patrick’s coaching career.
A 1976 graduate of Memorial, James Patrick was a three-sport athlete for the Panthers: baseball, basketball, and football. He would go on to play baseball and football for one season at Reedley College, before transferring to Fresno City College for one season where he played just baseball.
In 1983, James Patrick became the baseball coach at Memorial. He coached there for two seasons, winning 24 games and a section championship in his second year. In 1985, he joined the staff at Clovis High School as an assistant before becoming head coach in 1988.
Over 32 years at Clovis, Patrick reached many milestones. He coached the team to its first-ever section championship in 1995. In 1997 and 1998, the Cougars went 32-2 and 33-2 and were named USA Today’s national team of the year both seasons.
In 2014, Clovis was again a No. 1 team. With a record of 33-5, the Cougars became Cal-Hi Sports’ State Team of the Year for the third time.
In April of 2017, James Patrick earned career win No. 709. He officially passed Mike Noakes to become the all-time winningest baseball coach in Central Section history. Two years later, Patrick would finish his career with 757 wins.
James Patrick coached one player who reached the major leagues: pitcher Ryan Cook. A 2005 graduate of Clovis High, Cook was an MLB all-star in 2012 with the Oakland A’s.
Patrick also coached both of his sons at Clovis High, Chris and Kevin, who each followed in his footsteps and became head baseball coaches in the TRAC.
Jaime Ramirez — Soccer
On Nov. 7, 2015, the Fresno Pacific men’s soccer team defeated Dixie State. That win clinched a Pacific West Conference title for the Sunbirds; it also was the 300th win at FPU for head coach Jaime Ramirez.
Born in Mexicali, Mexico, Jaime Ramirez recalls watching the 1966 World Cup on a black-and-white television and deciding then that he wanted to one day become a professional soccer player. He moved to Clovis to live with his grandparents when he was 11 and that dream came with him, despite the fact that as a teenager in California, he went four years without playing the sport.
Jaime Ramirez attended Clovis High and lettered in football, soccer, and tennis (1973-1976). In soccer, he was a four-time all-North Yosemite League player. That success continued in college at Fresno Pacific, where he was a three-time NAIA all-American (1977-1980).
During his senior season, Ramirez became the Sunbirds’ all-time leader in goals (54) and points (134); those records stood for nearly 20 years.
In January of 1982, Jaime Ramirez played one season on the reserve team for the Los Angeles Aztecs of the North American Soccer League. He returned to Fresno Pacific to get a teaching credential, and when he was back on campus, he was asked by Ben Norton to be an assistant coach.
Jaime Ramirez spent nine years as an assistant coach at FPU. For many of those years while on Norton’s staff, he also led his own staff at Roosevelt High School. In 1991, his focus was firmly on Fresno Pacific when he became the program’s head coach.
In his first season, Ramirez led the Sunbirds to a 15-2-1 record and he was named the Golden State Athletic Conference’s Coach of the Year. It was the first of numerous accolades for Ramirez, another of which came in 2001 when Fresno Pacific dedicated its new soccer facility, ‘Ramirez Field.’
FPU added a women’s soccer team in 1998, and Ramirez was that program’s first head coach. He was also the first head coach of the Fresno Fuego, from 2003-2007. In 2011, he became director of coaching for Central California Soccer Alliance and, later, director of coaching for Valley United Soccer Club.
Todd Riech — Track and Field
Riech grew up in Hot Springs, Montana, where the high school had about 65 students. He was on the track and field team, single-handedly winning enough events as both a junior and a senior to win back-to-back state championships.
Because of his success in multiple events, Riech was recruited as a decathlete. However, a hip injury forced him to focus on the javelin when he enrolled at Fresno State.
Riech thrived with the Bulldogs. A four-time all-American, he broke the NCAA record in the javelin as a senior in 1994, throwing it 266′ 9″ (81.30 meters) to win an NCAA title. He then followed that up by winning a national title two weeks later at the U.S. Outdoor Track & Field Championships.
In 1995, Riech competed in the Pan American Games in Argentina. He won the bronze medal in the javelin, which set the stage for the Olympic trials one year later. Riech set a new personal best at the trials, 268′ 6″ (81.86 meters), to qualify for the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta.
He finished in 17th place that summer, representing both the United States and Native Americans everywhere, as Todd Riech is a proud member of the Salish and the Kootenai tribes.
He just missed out on qualifying for the 2000 Olympics in Sydney, but he did get to watch his son, Nate, win a Paralympic gold medal in Tokyo in 2021 in the 1500 meters.
Rolland Todd — Basketball
On April 21, 1970, Rolland Todd was just 35 years old when he was hired to be the first-ever head coach of the NBA’s Portland Trail Blazers. The Trail Blazers were one of three expansion teams to enter the NBA that year. Todd coached them for their first 138 games, winning 41 of them.
Rolland Todd grew up in Strathmore on a citrus farm. He remembers saying in the sixth grade that he wanted to one day be a professional athlete and a coach.
The dream of becoming a professional athlete came first, and it really got started for Todd when he attended College of the Sequoias. He played basketball for the Giants and helped them win a state title in 1953.
The next year, he transferred to Fresno State. That was in 1954. By the time he was a senior, in 1957, he was team captain. He helped the Bulldogs win the California Collegiate Athletic Association that season, and he finished his Fresno State career with 965 points.
After graduation, Todd got his chance to play professionally. He had a brief stint in the National Industrial Basketball League, which led to a tryout for both the 1960 Olympic team and the NBA’s St. Louis Hawks. Todd also played in the American Basketball League.
In 1963, he transitioned into coaching. He was an assistant at Riverside City College for one season (under Jerry Tarkanian), before becoming an assistant at Cal State Los Angeles for one season (under Porterville native and NBA Hall of Famer Bill Sharman).
Todd is the founder of Todd Team Coaching. Since 1986, his company has worked with both individuals and organizations to provide leadership training at the highest level.
1968 Fresno State Men’s Tennis Team
Coached by Richard Murray, who was a former basketball player and a football player at Fresno State, the Bulldogs came out of nowhere to win the 1968 NCAA College Division men’s title.
And, they only had one returning player from the previous year, a season in which they didn’t win a conference match.
The Bulldogs compiled an 11-1 record in dual meets en route to the program’s first California Collegiate Athletic Association championship. The Bulldogs, whose only loss was to Oregon, earned a berth in the NCAA Western Regionals in Santa Barbara. After winning that tournament — beating out 23 other teams —Fresno State advanced to the championships in Fort Worth, Texas.
Jim Powers entered nationals as the No. 2 seed in singles. At regionals, he won the individual title in singles, after beating the No. 4, No. 1, and No. 2 seeds in consecutive matches.
Powers did not win the singles title at nationals. However, he and Gary Ogden won the doubles title and helped the Bulldogs defeat powerhouse Los Angeles State, 19-14, for the team crown.
About the Fresno County Athletic Hall of Fame
Founded in 1958, the nonprofit Fresno County Athletic Hall of Fame was established to honor the past, celebrate the present, and inspire the future. To date, it has enshrined 350 individuals and 42 teams. The FCAHOF is located in the southwest corner of Fresno’s Save Mart Center. More information is at this link.