By Jim Carnett
(Jim was an Orange Coast College student in the early 1960s. Now in his 37th year as Director of Community Relations, he is editor of Coast-to-Coast. This is a regular column that focuses on OCC’s history and distinctive characteristics and characters.)
Before she’s through, Barbara Bond will prove to be one of the foremost architects and builders in the history of Orange Coast College’s Physical Education and Athletics Division.
She may even come close to eclipsing the construction legacy of founding dean, Wendell Pickens.
Barbara joined OCC’s faculty in 1975. After serving as a dedicated physical education instructor and successful coach for 29 years, she became the college’s seventh athletic director on July 1, 2004. Her official title is dean of physical education and athletics. Her three-and-a-half-year tenure as dean has been extraordinarily productive.
“I’m thrilled to be leading the division at this exciting time,” she told me recently. “I’m allowed to make choices, and to leave a mark on this campus. It’s fun to be part of something so big and significant.”
At 58, Bond looks a decade younger than her age. She’s in great physical condition, and works out faithfully. She spends time with weights and on cardiovascular workouts, and she also swims. As dean, she’s the perfect “Poster Gal” for her division.
Barbara has played softball since high school, and has twice competed in the Senior Olympics. On three occasions she’s won world championship rings for softball. She also enjoys working with stained glass, and spending time at the beach.
Her distant predecessor, Pickens, was the college’s founding athletic director. Despite sharing the same work ethic, “Pick” and Bond exhibit very different styles and personalities. He was stoic, serious, somber and a man of few words. She’s an extraverted people-person. Barbara exudes personal warmth, flashes a bright smile and has a keen sense of humor.
She’s a great ambassador for Coast Athletics.
Pick created the department in 1948 and ran it for 29 years. He retired in 1977. Their two long OCC careers briefly overlapped, from 1975 to 1977. Pickens was responsible for building the college’s Peterson Gymnasium, LeBard Stadium, the track stadium, and various athletic fields, locker rooms, swimming pools, tennis courts, handball courts, and classrooms.
Before Barbara begin her tenure as athletic director in ‘04, OCC’s athletics facilities underwent a number of significant upgrades over a three-year timeframe. Department enhancements included a new sports medicine facility, an improved strength lab, a new weight room, an overhauled Peterson Gymnasium, and renovated locker rooms.
In the fall of 2001, the college installed a new polyurethane, all-weather track. The track was further enhanced in 2004 with the addition of new landscaping and a rest area for athletes.
In just three-and-a-half years as AD, Bond has assisted in the programming and design of the spectacular state-of-the-art, 49,000-square-foot Fitness Complex, which opened in March of 2007; was responsible for the re-design of the baseball field and soccer field; the remodel of LeBard Stadium, including the installation of artificial turf and the upgrading of the press box; and the remodel of the foyer and façade of Peterson Gymnasium.
Under her direction – after the project was first initiated by her predecessor, Fred Hokanson – LeBard Stadium and the soccer complex were both carpeted with an artificial surface, called FieldTurf. It’s a state-of-the-art synthetic turf that can be found in every stadium in the National Football League that boasts an artificial surface, and in dozens of major university stadiums and practice facilities around the country. It meets FIFA and NCAA standards.
“The soccer field had to be completely reengineered,” says Bond, who coached OCC’s women’s soccer team for 22 years, and twice won state championships. “Amazingly, the field was four feet higher on its south end than on the north, and the field was wider at the southern end than at the north. The area had to be completely re-surveyed and re-graded before the FieldTurf could be installed.”
The baseball field also presented a problem. The field is located on the far northeastern quadrant of the campus, at the corner of Fairview and Adams.
“The entire campus drains into the baseball outfield,” Barbara says. “It’s the lowest point on campus. We had to improve the drainage in the outfield, and level the infield, which was a foot higher than the outfield.
“We also took down the backstop which was erected in the mid-1960s. It was held up by four 60-foot telephone poles. When we took the poles down, we discovered that the one on the third-base side of the backstop had a crack that ran the length of the pole. It was an accident waiting to happen.”
Landscaping and a patio have been incorporated into the northern end of LeBard Stadium, between the field and the Fitness Complex. The patio has become a very attractive college events center.
A remodel of the Mason Field House is under way, and two more projects will begin next summer when the Athletic Department vacates its practice fields in the center of the campus to make room for a large classroom building. The softball field will be relocated to the northern edge of the campus, next to the S St. entrance and Adams Ave. Modifications will also be made to the polyurethane-surface track – a D-ring will be added – to accommodate the javelin, discus and shot put events, which were previously conducted on the practice field. The football team has already moved its practices from the former practice field down to LeBard Stadium.
“Our athletic teams are relinquishing the center of the campus in order to strengthen the college’s instructional core,” Barbara says. “We’re moving our activities to the perimeter, and we see that as a positive thing. Our athletic program will now be clearly visible to our surrounding community, and that’s great for our student athletes.”
Beginning next fall, six OCC teams will play games or matches at sites fronting Adams Ave. or Fairview Rd.: the women’s softball team, the men’s and women’s soccer teams, the baseball team, and the men’s and women’s tennis teams. That, of course, doesn’t take into account the four men’s and women’s swimming and water polo teams, which compete behind the brick wall on Fairview.
Bond sees perhaps three more major Athletic Department building projects looming on OCC’s horizon that could be initiated on her watch.
“Should the college pass a future bond election, our wish would be to build a new swimming pool – our present pool is 54 years old – a facility for our Adapted Physical Education Program and new tennis courts. That’s all we need. Our pool has been limping along for the past decade and is being held together with bailing wire and band aids.”
Still, OCC’s men’s and women’s swimming teams have won a total of 18 state championships over the past 23 years…proving the old axiom that it’s ultimately athletes and not facilities that win games. The men’s swim team captured the state title last spring.
“If we get those last three additions, our physical education plant will be complete…and will be the finest community college athletic complex in the state. In fact, we believe we’re already there.”
Bond says it’s apparent that the new facilities have had a positive impact upon OCC’s recruiting efforts.
“Athletics is the best retention device a college can offer,” she says. “Coaches have a vested interest in their athletes performing well in the classroom. They serve as important advisors to their students. They recruit their athletes; monitor their progress in the classroom; and help them to transfer to four-year schools. When all of that happens, they’re able to recruit future athletes because the success of their former athletes has become public record.”
Barbara says athletes and students who tour the two-story, 49,000-square-foot, state-of-the-art Fitness Complex are overwhelmed by what they see. First, it provides breathtaking views into the stadium, and includes a large multipurpose room that can be utilized as a gymnasium or large group instruction facility.
During grand opening ceremonies for the building conducted last March, Barbara told an audience of more than 400 students, alums, faculty members, staff members, administrators and retirees: “It took us almost three years from start to finish, but OCC’s Fitness Complex is finally here.
GRAND OPENING -- (from left) Ken Yglesias, Armando Ruiz, Bob Dees,
Barbara Bond, Mary Hornbuckle, Melinda Nish, Jim McIlwain and Joe Quarles
“No other community college – and not many Division I schools – can match this facility. It’s another jewel in the crown of Orange Coast College.”
The building also includes two locker rooms used by OCC’s football, baseball, soccer and softball teams. The complex has a training facility for sports medicine, an equipment room, and coaches’ offices. The second floor features a 6,000-square-foot Strength Lab, a 2,600-square-foot Cardio Lab that houses 57 pieces of cardio equipment, an Exercise Science Testing Lab, and a fitness studio and classroom.
The building is definitely Barbara’s “baby!” She’s justifiably proud of it.
“We’re not just getting more athletes now, but also more general students,” she says. “Research shows that the campus facilities that attract students first and foremost are the campus library and the athletic facilities. Those buildings are the calling card for an institution.
“With our spectacular new campus library set to open in January, and our beautiful athletic and fitness facilities, we don’t have to take a back seat to any community college in the state. We’re right there at the top.”
OCC’s impressive new facilities haven’t exactly gone unnoticed by coaches at rival institutions. Envy, it can be reported, has occasionally reared its ugly head.
“Our colleagues at other schools are not happy with us,” Bond says with a smile. “We’re now even tougher to recruit against…and that makes us very pleased!”
Success has always been the hallmark of OCC’s athletic program. Over the last 60 years Coast has exhibited enormous success on the playing field. Beginning with the state baseball title in 1956, the Pirates have won no less than 72 team state championships, and a number of national titles. Conference sports supremacy trophies have come to this campus by the bushel-basket. The Pirates have won more than 25 Orange Empire sports supremacy titles over the past three decades.
Last spring, OCC was awarded the 2006-07 Pepsi/NATYCAA Cup for best overall athletic performance by a California community college, presented by the Commission on Athletics (COA) and the National Alliance of Two-Year College Athletic Administrators.
OCC topped the final 2006-07 Pepsi Cup standings with 164 points. Sierra College was second with 158, and Fresno City College was third at 154. Other Orange County finishers included: Saddleback (12th), Golden West (19th), Cypress (25th), Santa Ana (28th), Irvine Valley (32nd), Fullerton (38th), and Santiago Canyon (42nd).
During the 2006-07 athletic year, OCC won state championships in women’s cross-country, women’s volleyball, and men’s swimming and diving. Many other OCC teams reached the quarterfinals, semifinals and finals of state competition.
“The Pepsi Cup is frosting on the cake for us, and comes as the result of all the hard work that our coaches have been putting in year after year after year. Our coaches are dedicated and the best at what they do in the state. They set the standard.”
OCC’s 60 years of athletic success are celebrated in a permanent new display that Bond and her staff created in the foyer of Peterson Gym. Pictures of every state championship team, as well as many trophies and mementos, are included in the display. The college’s impressive Athletic Hall of Fame is also located in the foyer.
Bond says she’s inspired by her coaches and by the hard work of her predecessors.
“During my time here I have been able to stand on the shoulders of Wendell Pickens, Dick Tucker, Sue Brown, Jim McIlwain, Jane Hilgendorf and Fred Hokanson, who were all great OCC athletic directors. They did a wonderful job. It’s been my responsibility to take a further step forward during my tenure. I want to keep this division and this college moving in the right direction.”
Barbara stays in regular contact with several of her predecessors.
“I exercise with Fred two mornings a week when he comes to the campus to work out. We talk about the job a lot. I also see Jane and Sue once a month for lunch. They keep me anchored in the traditions of OCC.”
A goal that she hopes to accomplish during her term as AD is to see her division achieve a higher profile on campus.
“I’d like to see our division get more involved in the daily routine and flow of campus life. Our coaches are always recruiting and coaching, they don’t have a lot of time to get involved in college life. But what I want to do in my remaining time here is to put a better face on athletics and physical education.”
Bond is a strong advocate for her division.
“I spent a lot of my career defending physical education to the rest of the campus. It seems that we were always fund raising and seeking money for our programs. I grew up on this campus and I was taught to get into a defensive posture and fight for everything you get. Nearly a decade or so ago I realized that that was the wrong approach. We don’t need to legitimize our existence; we’re a huge part of this campus’ success. And the rest of the college is realizing that.
“We used to receive potshots from other parts of the campus, but that’s receded dramatically in recent years. I don’t feel defensive with my fellow division deans. I’m no longer in the trenches. My thinking has changed.”
Orange Coast College has been “home” to Barbara Bond for a long time – 32 years to be exact. She joined the faculty in 1975 as a 26-year-old physical education instructor.
“Barbara is virtually imprinted with the Spirit of Coast – its history, legacy, values and mission,” said Margaret A. Gratton, who served as OCC’s president from 1996-02. “During her time at Coast, Barbara has gained solid experience in almost every aspect of the division that she now leads.”
“I’ve grown up on this campus,” Bond says. “My two kids, Kai and Brett, grew up here as well. I remember my son, Kai, crawling around the scoreboard on the softball diamond at nine months of age while I was coaching the team from the third base coaching box.
“Both of my children also went to school here, played sports here, and graduated from the college.”
Kai was a member of OCC’s water polo team and won the squad’s MVP award. He was named “Pirate of the Year.” Daughter, Brett, played two years of volleyball at Orange Coast. Kai is now marine safety officer for the City of Laguna Beach, and Brett teaches at the very elementary school that she attended in Laguna Beach.
“My best friends in the world have always been here on this campus,” Bond says. “You stay here for a while, and Orange Coast becomes your family. It’s an amazing way to spend your life.”
Bond supervises a staff of 19 full-time faculty members and coaches; 35 part-time, adjunct teachers and coaches; and 10 classified staff members.
An Orange County native, Barbara’s parents were both Indiana University graduates. Her mother was a home economics and physical education student, and her father earned a degree in history. He was a Marine Corps fighter pilot who went missing in action in Korea in 1950, when Barbara was just a year old.
Barbara graduated from Santa Ana Valley High School. She played volleyball and softball at California State University at Long Beach, and was also a member of the women’s swimming team. She earned her B.A. and M.A. degrees in physical education.
Barb also competed in club volleyball and was a member of three USVBA national championship squads. In addition to her CSULB experience, she took a semester’s worth of classes on the Chapman University World Campus Afloat.
Bond taught for three years at Foothill High School in Tustin. She was offered a teaching post at Orange Coast College in 1975.
“I applied at Coast because my husband, Greg, was teaching high school with two friends whose wives taught in the PE Department at OCC. They raved about how much their wives enjoyed working at the college, so I elected to submit an application.”
She was offered the job at Coast, while, at the same time, was extended an invitation to coach volleyball at UC Santa Cruz.
“I selected OCC and have never looked back or regretted that decision,” she says. “I’ve enjoyed every single day that I’ve worked on this campus. Every morning I look forward to getting into the car and going to work.”
Bond was 25 when she signed her first OCC contract.
“At the time, I had absolutely no idea where my career would take me. I wasn’t thinking far enough ahead to even consider the possibility that I might still be at Coast 30 years later. But this has been a wonderful experience.
“College students today are told to expect to have six careers in their lifetime before retiring. I feel very fortunate just to have had one career…at Orange Coast College. I didn’t really plan it this way, but I’m glad that that’s how it turned out.”
Since joining OCC’s staff, Bond has coached five sports.
She began her tenure by coaching field hockey and women’s basketball. She was head women’s hoops coach for three seasons, from 1975-78. At the time, women’s basketball was a spring sport. It was moved to a winter calendar – to coincide with the men’s season – in 1978-79. Because she was already coaching a fall sport, Bond dropped basketball and picked up softball.
After the 1979 field hockey season came to a close, Bond went to OCC’s athletic director and suggested that field hockey be scrapped on campus.
“I was having trouble recruiting athletes because field hockey was dying on Orange County’s high school campuses. There just weren’t many athletes available. I figured; if there’s no demand for this sport why continue to offer it? I recommended to the AD that we offer women’s soccer, instead. It seemed to me to be an up-and-coming sport.”
She was right. OCC became one of the first local colleges to field a women’s soccer team. She took over as head coach.
“During my first two or three seasons I had difficulty recruiting women who’d ever played the game before. Today, with youth programs in existence all over the place, every girl who tries out for our team has played soccer for 10 to 12 years.”
Bond coached OCC’s women’s soccer squad for 22 seasons. She led the Pirates to six conference championships and two state titles. She was named the Orange Empire Conference’s “Soccer Coach of the Year” five times. She was also once named the conference’s “Coach of the Year” for all sports. In 2002, the National Soccer Coaches Association voted her the West Region “Coach of the Year.”
Bond coached OCC’s softball team for 10 years, from 1979-89. She also coached the badminton squad for a couple of campaigns.
“I may be ‘Old School,’ but I believe that you essentially coach every sport the same way. The rules might differ – and the ball might be a different size – but coaching comes down to expressing your philosophy as a coach, and communicating your values and ethics to your players. You’re a teacher first, and the practice field is your classroom. If you’re a good teacher, you’ll also be a good coach...no matter the sport.”
As much as she enjoys serving as athletic director and division dean, Barbara misses coaching.
“I thoroughly enjoyed coaching all the sports that I coached at Coast. We’ve experienced considerable success, and many of my players have gone on to play at the four-year level, and many have become coaches. I miss coaching, but I’m deriving personal satisfaction in other ways as athletic director. It’s fun to share in the growth of the department and in the success of the other coaches on staff.”
The biggest adjustment she has experienced in going from coach to athletic director and dean of the Physical Education and Athletics Division is workload.
“I worked closely as an assistant athletic director and assistant dean with athletic directors Jane Hilgendorf and Fred Hokanson, but I really didn’t have a grasp on the enormity of the workload until I stepped into the job.
“Not only is there lots of work to do behind the desk, there’s also a huge amount of ‘oversight’ that goes on. I’m constantly attending games and events… which I love. But the hours are long, and I’m absolutely convinced that the job is never done.”
As an administrator, her annual vacation window is much smaller than when she was teaching.
“I exchanged 20 weeks off per year as a teacher and coach…for 22 days. How smart was that? But I love working in administration. I feel like every day I’m working for an important purpose.”
Over the years, Bond has recruited hundreds of athletes to her OCC teams. Now, as the school’s athletic director, she has a clear perspective on why a student athlete should select Orange Coast College above other two and four-year schools.
“Most potential athletes want to know about our athletic program first, and I always tell them that there isn’t a better program in the state. Number two; they want to know about academics. We have a wide array of classes and programs at Coast, and most students can find what they’re looking for – and more – right on this campus. The diversity of our academic and career programs is a major draw for students.
“We are a national leader in transferring students to four-year universities, and many of our athletes go on every year to play at the four-year level. We also have dynamite coaches at Coast, and our athletics facilities are second to none.”
Bond is adamant about the fact that Orange Coast College is a good option for athletes looking to continue their careers beyond the high school level.
“We have much to offer.”
Barbara is the perfect fit for Orange Coast College’s athletic director. She’s a lifetime athlete, and a highly successful coach, and OCC athletes and coaches are mindful of the fact that she’s “been there and done that.” She maintains a sure grip on the Coast tiller and, with fair winds and favorable seas, has the Pirate ship headed in exactly the right direction.
With her ready smile, warm personality and quick sense of humor, she makes friends wherever she goes. The Coast Athletic Department couldn’t have a better advocate – or envoy – than Barbara Bond.
“Barb the Builder's” impact on Orange Coast College is sure to resonate for decades to come.
WE GET LETTERS…
Just a note to let you know how much I enjoy reading "Coast to Coast" each week. And your interviews in "Orange Slices " are amazing! Reading of each one's background, accomplishments, and contributions to Orange Coast College is truly mind-boggling!
Last week, you interviewed Jeff Dimsdale (“Jeff Dimsdale: a Mathematician With an Inclination For Exactitude and Precision…Exhibits the Soul of an Artist,” Orange Slices, Nov. 15), and I picked up on something he said:
"I loved coming to work here. . . . There was never a day that I didn't want to get up and go to the campus. . . . Orange Coast College has the best students and the most incredible, remarkable and amazing group of professionals anywhere. I enjoyed every single moment I spent at Coast."
Jeff speaks for many of us.
Albert Schweitzer once wrote, "Success is not the key to happiness. Happiness is the key to success. If you love what you are doing, you will be successful."
OCC Professor of English (1966-00)