Sharron Backus – Class of 1963

Sharron Backus - Class of 1963

Sharron Backus – Class of 1963

Born Feb. 12, 1946, Sharron Backus is an Anaheim’s hometown girl who made good as an all-star athlete. A softball icon, she coached the UCLA women’s softball team for 21 seasons between 1975 and 1996, leading the Lady Bruins to nine national championships.

A member of the UCLA Hall of Fame, Sharron was architect of the UCLA softball dynasty and holds the record as the winningest Division 1 softball coach in NCAA history, posting a lifetime record of 847-167-3 (.835).

Backus and the Bruins brought eight national championship trophies to Westwood (seven NCAA and one AIAW) including an unprecedented three in a row (‘88, ’89, ’90). The Backus-era trophy case also includes four second-place trophies and three third-place awards.

Her UCLA teams played in the College World Series 16 times. Sharron coached a total of 53 All-Americans, including Player of the Decade (1980’s) Dot Richardson and Lisa Fernandez, the first softball player to ever win the prestigious Honda-Broderick Cup as the top female collegiate athlete in 1993.

Sharron was inducted into the Women’s Sports Foundation Hall of Fame in 1993, the National Softball Coaches Association Hall of Fame in 1992 and the Amateur Softball Association (ASA) Hall of Fame in 1985. She was also named coach of the year four times in her career.

As a player, the Cal State Fullerton graduate had a legendary ASA career. A star shortstop, Backus was instrumental in seven ASA championships (‘61,’65 and ’71-‘75) and two international championships (‘72 and ’74) as well as three professional World Championships (’76-‘78).

During her amateur softball career, she played from ‘61-‘75 for the Whittier Gold Sox, and from ’64-’66 for the Orange Lionettes. Backus batted .268, .298 and .301 for the Gold Sox and was a second-team All-American in 1961, as the Gold Sox won the national title.

During her three years with the Lionettes, she was a first-team All-American in 1964 and 1966. She batted .285, .293 and .263 those three years.

Sharron spent the last seven years of her career with the Brakettes, achieving a .292 batting average (.361 in 1971 was her highest batting average) and earned All-America laurels three times.

While at Anaheim, Sharon was an all-round athlete. At AHS, she was a star player in softball, basketball, swimming (held the record for the 25-yard backstroke), basketball, hockey and badminton. Sharron was Girls’ Athletic Association president and named GAA Girl of the Year in 1963 for her outstanding play at shortstop.

Phil Anton – Class of 1963

Phil Anton - Class of 1963

Phil Anton – Class of 1963

Kit Salness-Howser – Class of 1972

KIT SALNESS - AHS SWIM TEAM '72Kit Salness-Howser from Anaheim High Class of 1972 was a nationally ranked platform diver and was a member of the 1980 United States Olympic team.

While at Anaheim High, Kit participated in cheerleading, swimming, diving, track, volleyball, basketball and archery. Runner up for the G.A.A. Girl of the Year in 1972, Kit competed in the Indoor National Diving Competition and placed 12th in the 10-meter and 37th in the 3-meter board.

Kit’s family members were all Colonist, either as students or ardent supporters. Head of family Gordon Salness, a practicing physician in Anaheim for numerous years, was Anaheim’s football team doctor.

Matriarch Betty worked for the Anaheim Union High School District starting in 1964, first as a Braillist at Fremont and Anaheim High, then as a special education teacher for Oak, Los Alamitos and Lexington.

Her brother Ty is a doctor of internal medicine in the Indian Service Hospital in Kiletrken, Alaska. Ty was a USC teammate of OJ Simpson and was on the 1967 National Championship football team. Now part-time doctor and spends his retirement hours at him home in Panama. For 22 years he was a high school football coach at six schools.

Another brother, Kym, is a doctor who had a fellowship at UC Irvine and studied pulmonary diseases. He became UCI’s medical director and later held the same position at Pennsylvania State in Hershey. Now retired and living in Pennsylvania.

Sister Jo Salness Waldman, now retired was a physical education teacher in the Fullerton district and for 25 years was a high school volley ball coach at University High School in California. She’s now retired on a 70-horse ranch in Elk Washington.

Brother Lad is a high school teacher and head coach at Sunset High School in Portland, Oregon.

Paul Kott – Class of 1972

Paul and his son at Ruby's grand opening

Looking back at Paul Kott’s activities as an Anaheim High student, it comes as no surprise that this life-long Anaheim resident would become a community leader and active volunteer in many philanthropic organizations.

A prominent businessman and owner of Paul Kott Realtors, he was a member of the varsity basketball team, elected the squad’s most inspirational player. A member of the AHS Ski Club, Paul also served on the Associate Student Body as Safety & Welfare Secretary, responsible for keeping the Colony’s campus clean and attractive. Along with those duties, Paul’s and his Colonist committee undertook an annual clothing drive and canned food drive, rallying the entire student body to support the city’s needy citizens.
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Jim Fassel – Class of 1967

Jim Fassel '67 - Copy005Jim Fassel from Anaheim High Class of ’67 is a Colonist who literally grew up on Colonist athletic fields since his father, Bud, also an Anaheim grad from Class of ‘39, was the equipment manager for the Athletic Department for more than 25 years.

Much more can be said about Bud Fassel’s positive influence on the lives of the athletes he interacted with on a daily basis. Most importantly was the impact Bud made on his son who went on to play quarterback for the Chicago Bears and the San Diego Chargers, going on to become head coach of the New York Giants.

Jim was named NFL Coach of the Year in 1997, and he took the New York Giants to Super Bowl XXXV in January 2001. Most recently, he served as head coach, manager and president of the Las Vegas Locomotives in the United Football League, winning several UFL title during the league’s existence. He has also worked as an ESPN sports announcer.

Jim writes that “everything that has happened to me in my life can be traced back to Anaheim High,” in the foreword of Anaheim Colonists Football – A Century of Tradition by Dennis Batement from AHS Class of ’89. “Being a ball boy for the football team, riding the team bus with so many great athletes and on the back of the equipment truck are still some of the greatest thrills of my life.”

Jim devotion to his alma mater has never stopped since graduating in 1967. He established the Bud Fassel Memorial Scholarship, which annually awards outstanding Colonist athletes. He also sponsors the annual AHS Alumni Association Golf Classic as a golfer, donor and auctioneer for the event’s silent auction.

Jim is also involved in raising fund for the 911 first responders. The Jim Fassel Foundation, set up in 2002 to support first responders and the families affected by the World Trade Center attacks, has raised more than $1.1 million. Click the following link to read an in depth article on Jim and his devotion to Anaheim High: Jim Fassel

More on his athletic career is available at: