Seven Inducted into CAF Hall of Fame

Over 200 Chowchilla Athletic Foundation (CAF) supporters filled the
SFA Hall for the annual Hall of Fame dinner held last Saturday evening,
February 12.
Seven dedicated members of the Chowchilla community were honored as
the newly inducted members of the CAF Hall of Fame.
The evening began with a social gathering at 6 p.m. Attendees
socialized while roaming the room to check out the donated silent
auction items and raffle prizes. The auction items were put together
from each Chowchilla Union High School sports team and the monies
brought in on that item went directly to the team.
Alex Pittz, CAF founder and president, welcomed everyone and Tim
Pistoresi said the invocation.
Pittz explained that the mission of the CAF was to provide for
Chowchilla’s youth. Since 2003 to July of 2008 the foundation has
grossed over half a million dollars in revenue and over 60 percent of
the money has gone directly to student athletes. “That says a ton about
the support that this community gives,” stated Pittz. He then asked
that each person that has or is coaching to stand. The crowd quickly
gave them a round of applause.
Pittz said the goal of the Hall of Fame dinner was to recognize
those who have given up their time and energy for the sports programs.
“Coaching is not done for the money, each coach has their heart into
Pittz introduced past inductee Bertie Hargis, who presented the
first Hall of Fame inductee, Maureen Riley.
Hargis spoke of Riley in her earlier years of coaching and her
dedication for the past 27 years at CUHS.
Riley has served as a teacher’s aide, teacher, coach, counselor and
currently serves as the Director of Guidance. She has one of the most
impressive coaching resumes in Chowchilla history, coaching girl’s
basketball for seven years, volleyball for five years, and softball for
three years. In girl’s basketball under Riley, CUHS won five league
championships including the 1987 and 1988 teams who were undefeated
league champions. The 1987 team won the Valley Championship and made
the first state playoff appearance in school history. The 1988 team was
the Valley runner-up and finished second in the California State
Championship. Her 1987 volleyball team was the first Chowchilla
volleyball team in school history to qualify for the playoffs and her
1986 softball team was the first softball team to qualify for the
Riley stated, “I might not be coaching a sports team, but in
counseling, I coach these students to bigger goals and have a bigger
Monte Pistoresi was the next inductee and was introduced by his son
Tim. He told how his dad, Monte, was not only there for him playing
catch and coaching him, but he was there for the teams. Monte has a
passion now for umpiring, and he “knows the rules” stated his son.
Monte graduated from Chowchilla in 1956 and begun coaching and
serving the community almost immediately. He served in the Army in 1961
and 1962 before returning to Chowchilla in 1963. From 1963 to 1977 he
started umpiring youth games and still holds rules clinics for umpires
throughout Madera County.
In the early 1980’s he took over Pistoresi Ambulance in Madera
County and continued his community service by being an ongoing sponsor
of youth athletic teams and providing an ambulance at all Chowchilla’s
high school football games.
The next inductee to the Hall of Fame was the original Chowchilla
Chain Gang, Reno Cornaggia, Ron Hansen, Tony Machado, Dennis Hansen and
Jack Nelson. Jack Nelson was not able to attend the dinner.
The five original members of the football chain gang have been
volunteering at Chowchilla youth and high school football games for over
40 years. Each member was introduced.
Cornaggia was introduced by his son, Pat. He told how his dad was
a competitive person. He was proud to be a Chowchillian and be involved
in the community.
Cornaggia joined the chain gang in the 1960’s and was also a
volunteer coach for American Legion baseball and an assistant at
Chowchilla High.
Ron Hansen was introduced by his daughter-in-law Paula Hansen. She
spoke about his dedication to the community and watching his
grandchildren play team sports.
Ron graduated from Chowchilla in 1956 and played on the 1955
championship football team. He joined the chain gang in the early
1960’s and is still on the sidelines helping. He is an avid supporter
of youth sports teams in Chowchilla and attends almost every CUHS home
football game, baseball game and Chowchilla Little League games.
Tony Machado was introduced by Dave Alexander. Machado is an asset
to the Chowchilla community through his dedication and eagerness to help
on the field. Alexander had the crowd in stitches with laughter as he
told stories about Machado.
Machado graduated from Hilmar and moved to Chowchilla in 1955. He
helped start the Pop Warner football program in Chowchilla and has been
coaching and volunteering his time ever since he arrived. Machado is
still part of the chain gang and enjoys the camaraderie on the field.
Dennis Hansen was introduced by his daughter Susie Spomer. She
spoke about how her dad was always at the games for her throughout
college. In fact he attended all the games that her siblings were
involved in. He loved pulling the chains when her brother, Steve, was
playing football.
Hansen graduated from Chowchilla in 1960 and has been on the chain
gang at the youth level since 1978 and continues to volunteer on the
current chain gang for high school games.
Jack Nelson was the fifth chain gang member to be inducted.
Nelson graduated and played football for Chowchilla and at one time
held the school’s rushing record. He started volunteering as a coach at
the Pop Warner level and won the youth championship in 1979. He went on
to coach at the high school junior varsity level in 1980-81 and
eventually took over as the head coach for the varsity team. He began
volunteering on the chain gang after his coaching career around 1987
and continues to help.
After the inductions were completed, Pittz thanked everyone,
including Don Smith for the prime-rib dinner, Kelly Smith for
volunteering his time to provide the evening with music and the
Chowchillla FFA for helping serve and clean up. Pittz encouraged
everyone to stay and enjoy the music and dancing.
“The evening was another success,” stated Pittz. “Each year it
gets better and better.”

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