By Staff Reports
(Victor Valley)– The Cal State San Bernardino athletic department celebrated its Hall of Fame Class of 2017.
The inductees, Laura Beeman (women’s basketball), John Major (baseball), Jackie Powers (women’s soccer) and Larry Reynolds (coach, men’s basketball), were formally inducted into the Coyote Hall of Fame on May 19.
Laura Beeman, Basketball — 1989-91
Coaching college basketball wasn’t at the top of Laura Beeman’s career choices when her Coyote career came to an end.
“I wish I had that much direction at that age,” said Beeman, who played two record-setting years at point guard for the Coyotes in 1989-91. “I had no idea what I wanted to do. To be honest, when I was in school it was about playing basketball.”
A phone call from the University of Redlands offering a graduate assistant position with its women’s basketball program made all the difference in the world to the Highland native.
Beeman just completed her fifth season as head coach at the University of Hawaii and has enjoyed success at every stop in her coaching career that began in 1992. Her teams won four state titles at Mt. San Antonio College in Walnut and she also coached the sport’s finest with the WNBA’s Los Angeles Sparks. Her Hawaii teams have played in four postseason tournaments, culminating with an NCAA tournament berth in 2016.
As a Coyote, she earned NCAA Division III honorable mention All-American honors for the 1989-90 season after helping the Coyotes reach the D3 tournament. She ranks second in career assists and second and third in season assists. She even found time to play softball in the spring of 1991.
Not bad for someone who admits she was more of a soccer player in her youth. In fact, she did not begin playing basketball until entering San Bernardino HS in the early 80s.
During her stint with the Coyotes, Laura was known for her philanthropic activities within the department and for the university. That commitment to helping others began by observing her parents (Jerry and Judy) at the family pharmacy in San Bernardino.
Her UH coaching staff and players are involved in multiple service opportunities such as free youth basketball clinics and helping at Waikiki Health’s Youth Outreach (YO!) program working with local at-risk and homeless youths.
“I am so fortunate to have a complete family that is committed to service,” she said. “I watched my parents help those who were in need on a daily basis. Our basketball program encompasses involvement in various out-reach programs in Honolulu and the island of Oahu.”
Playing basketball and attending college in her hometown remains among her top career achievements. Her daily work as a college head basketball coach very much involves using her CSUSB business degree.
“It was a thrill to have my family and support me while attending CSUSB,” she said. “There’s a sense of pride playing for a program that started as an independent Division III team to a quality Division II program today. CSUSB is a great academic institution. I use my business degree every day, whether it’s through fundraising, sales, recruiting.
“My attending CSUSB and playing basketball have opened opportunities in my life every single day.”
John Major, Baseball — 1995-96
John Major is perfectly happy to call San Bernardino home.
It’s not surprising. Once the Claremont product decided CSUSB was his place to play baseball for head coach Don Parnell and attend college in the fall of 1994, he had a magical time that includes his senior season that became the best ever by a Coyote.
“I told Don that I was ready to pitch every day when I came to the ballpark,” Major said. “1996 was a fun year. I knew my career was ending, and yet I didn’t want it to end.”
Major’s season was a dream in which he led the California Collegiate Athletic Association in games (22), starts (18), victories (11), strikeout (104) and innings pitched (128.2). He was the conference’s pitcher of the year and went to earn All-American honors.
A two-year stint in Texas where he starred for Howard Junior College (1993-94), Major returned to Southern California. He chose to play for CSUSB over nearby UC Riverside and said Parnell “sweet-talked” him into signing for the Coyotes.
“I wanted to come back to California,” he said. “Don got to me first.”
Upon earning his bachelor’s degree in kinesiology, Major spent 10 seasons serving as a volunteer coach for Parnell that coincided with a teaching position here in San Bernardino.
He is enjoying his 17th year teaching elementary physical education and gives back to the university that gave him so much.
“I’ve had a handful of student teachers from CSUSB, and I’ve done a lot of observation work with those who want to become teachers,” he said. “That I can relate to CSUSB and its kinesiology department, and to student-athletes is particularly gratifying.
“I hope they see that the lessons I share with my students is positive. Where else could I have a job where I get to be outside and play games? And that I get to see the mountains every day and I can see the CSUSB campus from my job.”
Major and his wife Brandy are the parents of son Jackson and daughter Stella. The family makes its home in Highland. A piano player since the age of seven, John and former teammate Mike Landers have a band named “Strange Brew” that plays weekends throughout the Inland Empire.
John readily admits his educational and athletics experiences at CSUSB paved the way for future successes.
“(Baseball) was the only reason at the high school age for me to go to college,” he said. “Once I got going here, I realized I had the potential to do well. I am very appreciative that I had strong guidance from both Don and my wife.
“Going to CSUSB changed my life. You don’t think of it at the time. I met my wife, and to this day I consider Don my best friend.”
Jackie Powers Knopke, Soccer — 1990-93
To say that Jackie Powers Knopke owns the Coyotes soccer record book is a little like saying you are pretty sure the sun will come up in the morning. It is one of those must truths about CSUSB athletics.
Nearly 25 years after the Highland native stepped off the pitch for the final time wearing the Black and Blue, she remains CSUSB’s all-time leader in every offensive category. All nine categories in which you can score — goals, assists and points — in a game, a season and a career belong to her.
After playing club soccer for one of former CSUSB women’s coach Carlos Juarez’s teams, she moved on to San Gorgonio HS and starred in the sport for coach Bob Beeman (brother of fellow Hall of Famer Laura).
It was an easy decision to follow the former state Highway 30 to CSUSB for college.
“When I played at San G, most of my teammates were older, so it was an easy transition to follow them and play at CSUSB,” said Knopke, who now resides in Kansas City, Mo., and works as a corporate trainer. “I was so fortunate to have great teammates and playing near home was special.”
Along with playing soccer, she maintained a full load of classes and worked part-time as a waitress. All accomplished while living across the street from CSUSB.
“I had so much fun with balancing all of it,” she said. “I also had to keep up my grades in order to maintain my scholarship. It motivated me to not have my grades slip. l loved playing soccer so much that I wasn’t going to slack off. Balancing work with school and soccer was a lot of work, but I still had time to have fun. I never felt like I missed out on stuff.”
Her accolades include three All-CCAA honors and named the 1991 CCAA Player of the Year. She graduated with her bachelor’s degree in kinesiology and went on to teach at San G, even replacing Beeman as girls soccer coach.
She is the mother of twin daughters — Jordyn and Josephine (age 12) — and to this day participates in activities with her girls at their school. “I still have butterflys getting the chance to play volleyball or dodge ball with them,” she said with a laugh.
The opportunity to use her skills in soccer paid off with giving her an education. To this day, her ability to balance those tasks from long ago remains in her mind.
“Earning my degree at CSUSB and playing soccer changed my life,” she said. “Every time I have a challenge, I draw upon my time as a student-athlete. Being a student-athlete gave me a tremendous amount of confidence and provided a great foundation for the rest of my life.”
Larry Reynolds, Basketball — 1997-02
It did not take long for Larry Reynolds to put CSUSB men’s basketball and the athletic program on the national map.
Reynolds’ stay at CSUSB was just five seasons (1997-02) and in that time, he laid the foundation for one of the most prominent programs on the West Coast. The Coyotes reached the 1999 NCAA Elite Eight for the first time in program history in just his second year at the helm and his teams went 110-35 — a 75.9 percent winning percentage, the best of any coach in school history.
All told, Reynolds’ teams won two NCAA Regional titles (1999 and 2002), three straight CCAA titles (2000-02) and earned four consecutive NCAA Tournament berths (1999-02). His 2001-02 team boasted a 28-2 record — tied for the best record among all NCAA men’s basketball programs that season.
Reynolds and the Coyotes were a match meant to be after the Los Angeles native paid his dues as a long-time assistant coach at both UC Riverside and the University of San Francisco.
“I was so fortunate that I had an athletic director in Nancy Simpson (CSUSB Hall of Famer, Class of 2015), who had faith in me for giving me a shot at becoming a head coach,” said Reynolds, who won four CCAA Coach of the Year honors with the Coyotes. “Her success was unparalleled and I owe everything to her and her willingness to take a chance on me. And then of course the basic reason for this honor is that you got to have good players to become a good coach. I’m thankful for all of them. The success we had at CSUSB was due to the fact that good players bought in and played very well.”
Reynolds left CSUSB for the head coach position at Long Beach State, where he spent five seasons. The 2016-17 season marked his seventh season as head coach at fellow CCAA-member Stanislaus State, where he coached the Warriors to their first NCAA Division II Tournament appearance in school history in 2013. And where was the regional played? Right here at CSUSB.
“When you first see the campus and you go to Coussoulis Arena, you just know kids are going to want to play in a place like that,” Reynolds said. “And then you meet the people and they make you feel at home; that you’re meant to feel wanted and needed and that people are looking out for you. From a school standpoint, the resources were available to excel.”
Top photo: CSUSB Athletics Hall of Fame Class of 2017 (from left): Jackie Powers Knopke (soccer), John Major (baseball), Laura Beeman (basketball) and Larry Reynolds (basketball). Photo: Photo Robert A. Whitehead/CSUSB