July 9, 2011

Northridge Alumni Celebrate the Coaching Career of Don Strametz

July 9, 2011

Track & Field Reunion/Don Strametz Retirement Celebration Photo Gallery

WOODLAND HILLS, Calif. - Nearly 250 student-athletes, colleagues, family and friends gathered Saturday evening at the Warner Center Marriott in Woodland Hills for a Cal State Northridge Track & Field Reunion but more importantly to pay tribute to legendary head coach Don Strametz.

Strametz, who retired after 31 seasons at the helm of the Matador women's program and 26 with the Matador men, was feted by former athletes Darcy Arreola Lange, Lilyana Morejon and Andri Hargrove, former Fresno State head coach Red Estes, former CSUN women's coach Dr. Barbara Swerkes and family members Nancy James-Klinger and wife Carolyn Strametz.

The Voice of the Matadors and alum Bill Courtland emceed the event which also included a tribute by newly-named Track & field head coach Avery Anderson, an Athletic Department gift from Athletic Director Rick Mazzuto and a Professor Emeritus proclamation by University President Dr. Jolene Koester presented by Vice President for Administration & Finance Tom McCarron.

Arreola Lange, Northridge's first NCAA Champion in the 1,500 meters in 1991, was the first to honor Strametz and she spoke of how Strametz pushed her to become a better runner over the course of her career.

"Looking around the room, it's obvious how many lives he has touched and influenced in such a positive way," said Arreola Lange during her speech. "For me, Coach Stram wasn't just a coach, he was a surrogate parent, a mentor, a tutor, a counselor and most importantly a friend. I truly believe he was the reason for my success in college."

Morejon, the 2009 Big West Champion in the 10,000 meters was next and credited Strametz with transforming her from a miler to a 10,000 meter distance runner.

"I had a rude awakening from Stram saying I was going to become a great 10k runner," said Morejon. "At first I thought he was crazy, 25 laps around the track, no way. But little did I know that running 25 laps around the track was going to be the greatest thing that's happened to me as a runner."

Estes, the legendary Fresno State coach and fellow hunting enthusiast, recounted his teams' battles with Strametz on the track as well as several misadventures while duck hunting with his former colleague. Swerkes touched on her experience as the CSUN women's coach prior to Strametz and commented on Strametz's committment to his student-athletes performance in the classroom as well as on the track.

James-Klinger, Strametz's stepdaughter and former Matador middle distance runner, and Strametz's wife Carolyn also recounted some personal stories about the coach's career which set the stage for the legendary coach to take the stage.

Strametz, a 29-time Coach of the Year honoree who was notched 22 conference championships, opened by paying tribute to his athletes saying all his coaching awards were always about his athletes and not about him. Strametz then took the audience on a 40+ year journey from his days at Locke High School to his most recent Big West Women's Championship in 2011.

The evening wrapped up with several of Strametz's former athletes and colleagues paying tribute to the retiring coach via video message.

- GO MATADORS -