SACRAMENTO -- SACRAMENTO Start with a single thread, sturdy and bright-colored. Add another, and another.
Soon it's a quilt, strong by its gathered strength.
Countless threads from that quilt wove their way through the floor of Power Balance Pavilion, the scene Sunday night for the second annual induction ceremony for the Sac-Joaquin Section Hall of Fame.
Each of the 43-member "Class of 2012" was inspired by a variety of sources parents, teachers, coaches, friends and fellow athletes. They eventually became overachievers in their chosen endeavors, the cream of the cream. About 500 candidates this year were whittled down to the elite.
"We're all connected in some way shape or form," said Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson, the former NBA star who remembered his roots as a former Sacramento High Dragon.
And he was so right. The 350 who attended the event appreciated the inductees' sacrifice over the years, because many churned through the process or witnessed it first hand.
Did you know that Joe Debely, the legendary Turlock High coach, first coined the term "Sac-Joaquin Section?" In the room were several of his former athletes, among them Paul Larson, a first-team All-American and fifth in the Heisman Trophy voting as a Cal quarterback in 1954.
Larson, 80, lives about a mile from the ranch where inductee Dan Gonsalves, the "Silver Fox" of Grace Davis High, was raised. Gonsalves was beaten out by Larson for the quarterback job at Turlock.
You may assume Gonsalves recovered from the disappointment. He's believed to be the only person in section history to have directed, officiated and coached in three different sports in the section championships.
He also coached inductees Ray Lankford, the eventual all-star of the St. Louis Cardinals, and section wrestling icon John Azevedo.
A few years after Gonzalves and Larson exited Turlock High, inductee Dave Maggard made his mark as a three-sport star and student body president. He later starred in track at Cal and later placed fifth in the Olympics in the shot put. He's best recognized, however, as one of the nation's leading sports administrators.
Even today, Maggard can't slow down. Oregon State took full advantage of his recent move from El Dorado Hills to Corvallis. He serves as a consultant in the Beavers' athletic department. Years before, Johnson the ex-Golden Bear was well-served by Maggard's advice as Cal athletic director.
"He took me aside," the mayor recalled, "and said if you go to class, you'll be all right."
The quilt expanded as the evening wore on. Long before inductee Suzy Powell-Roos became a national champion in the discus and a three-time Olympian, she was inspired by former Nevada Union basketball star Kellie Cook, another inductee.
Powell-Roos, who led the Downey basketball team to its only section title (1994), needed a hero back then. She found one in Cook, who anchored Nevada Union's drive to a trio of championships (1989-91).
"You (Cook) were the standard," said Powell-Roos, one of two inductees selected to speak. "Thanks for inspiring a generation of young girls."
Think about the lives touched by such inductees as Central Catholic's Mike Glines, or Mariposa's Loyd Hobby, or career coach-administrator Bob Taylor (Bret Harte, Downey and Grace Davis), or the late basketball official Bob Wood, or Milo Candini, one of Manteca High's best-ever athletes and a member of the 1950 Philadelphia Phillies' Whiz Kids. Or Walker Vick, the former Manteca coach who still works for the section.
I played pee-wee league baseball in Manteca against Milo's Sluggers, the team Candini lovingly sponsored for many years. Years later as a sports writer, I watched as Merced's Gerald Madkins now the director of basketball operations for the Los Angeles Clippers smoked a cigar as he signed autographs after one of the Bears' section titles at the old Arco Arena.
Those memories do not fade over time. And just sharing some time with these special people won't soon by forgotten.
They knitted one impressive quilt.
Bee staff writer Ron Agostini can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (209) 578-2302.