SANTA BARBARA - Santa Barbara City College Director of Athletics Rocco Constantino has announced that Sports Information Specialist Dave Loveton will be the sole member of the Class of 2021 for the SBCC Vaqueros Hall of Fame.
Loveton has been with the Vaqueros since he was hired by then-Director of Athletics Mike Warren in 2006. He will be honored along with the Class of 2020 at a virtual event later this year.
"I was very happy and very surprised and humbled when I was told I would be inducted," said Loveton. "I had no idea I was even being considered. It was a nice surprise and Rocco [Constantino] played a good trick on me."
Constantino and the SBCC coaches and staff surprised Loveton with the announcement on a department Zoom meeting Thursday.
"Dave and I have had conversations about taking some of the responsibilities off his plate when we return to competition, and we felt like this was the perfect time to honor him in our Hall of Fame," said Constantino. "Now Dave can always say he was a first-ballot Hall of Famer and in a class by himself."
A beloved member of the Santa Barbara sports scene and in the CCCAA, Loveton was hired by the Santa Barbara News-Press in September of 1981. He spent 24 years as a sportswriter for the Santa Barbara News-Press and has lived in Santa Barbara for 42 years.
"I have worked with so many great sportswriters. Guys like John Zant, Barry Punzal, Mark Patton and many others," said Loveton. "I'm surprised to be the first one of those guys to be inducted into a Hall of Fame."
During his time at SBCC, Loveton transformed the Sports Information Department and adapted with the times. As schools started to utilize websites and social media, Loveton was always sure SBCC was a leader in those areas.
"Social media has become very important," said Loveton. "When I started, we had an old website, and you couldn't even upload box scores or rosters. The website is a great tool and we have been able to grow our Twitter account to become one of the top 10 in the CCCAA."
Loveton grew up in Glendale, Calif. and played basketball at Glendale High School and Glendale Community College before attending UCSB from 1979-1981.
Loveton will be honored along with the SBCC Vaqueros Hall of Fame Class of 2020, which includes former players Jesse Orosco (baseball), Don Ford (basketball), Tim Tremblay (football), Cindy Banks (track & field), Kieran (O'Leary) Roblee (volleyball) and coaches Ed DeLacy and Kathy O'Connor, along with the 1983 State Champion Men's Volleyball Team.
The department is planning a virtual event but has not yet set a date.
"With so much uncertainty related to the pandemic, we are going to be having a virtual event," said Constantino. "We don't want to keep the Class of 2020 in limbo and decided to move forward virtually. There are great examples of virtual Hall of Fame events we can use as a template and we can consider an informal in-person event at a later date as well. I am sure with the people we're inducting and the support we have here at SBCC, it will be a first-class event."
Mike Robles, the Director of Communications for the CCCAA, has worked with Loveton closely and offered his insight into the work Dave does.
""Dave is truly one of the top sports information professionals in the CCCAA. The volume of information he produces is impressive but not as much as the quality," said Robles. "His coverage of SBCC Athletics is thorough, he's a tremendous writer and he is steadfast in his primary goal of putting the spotlight on the Vaqueros' student-athletes, coaches and teams."
Robles continued, "We're spoiled to have someone as talented as him among our ranks because if you ever want to point to someone that does it right, you only need to point to Dave. The CCCAA state office is grateful to have Dave help us in covering the CCCAA state tennis championships in Ojai and Ventura each year because he treats the teams like they were his own and provides excellent recaps and information. I've been around many great SIDs in the last 32 years and Dave is definitely among the best that I've worked with. By their nature, SIDs would rather stay behind the scenes but Dave's induction into the Hall of Fame is well-deserved and he's earned the recognition."
Loveton's journalism experience dates back to his prep days where he was the sports editor of his high school newspaper. He then went on to serve as the sports editor of the Glendale Community College school paper and the Daily Nexus, the school newspaper for UCSB.
Throughout his career, Loveton has always been a champion of the players and coaches he covers.
"I believe that our sports are teams, not just individuals, so I try not to focus on just one person," said Loveton. "I try to use photos of different people and if someone who usually doesn't score a lot has a good game, I want to make sure they're recognized. I enjoy covering the coaching milestones too. Like if a coach gets his 200th win, I want to make sure we're aware of that and that they're recognized."
Loveton was the Southern California Golf Writer of the Year in 1997 and was one of four finalists in the state of California for the Brass Top Award in 2018. The Brass Top Award is given to the top Sports Information Director in the state of California and is awarded by the California Community College Sports Information Association.
When asked about his favorite memories at SBCC, Loveton said there were too many to list.
"Looking back, we have 11 state championships in our history, but I was only at one of them," said Loveton. "That was the 1996 Men's Soccer team in Sacramento with Tim Von Steeg coaching. But we had a lot of great teams. I have enjoyed covering our Water Polo success in recent years. I enjoy the football games and use to even go to the away games too."
Loveton said perhaps the best Vaquero game he ever covered came before he was working at SBCC when he was writing for the News-Press.
"In 1996 we were playing LA Valley and they were No. 3 in the nation," Loveton recalled. "We were down two touchdowns with just a couple of minutes left and we scored two TDs in the last two minutes to win it. The winning pass came on a long Hail Mary from current Santa Barbara High Head Coach JT Stone to Ryan Capretta. I suggested the headline, 'Hail Yes!' and it ran in huge type in the News-Press the next day."
Loveton also remembered when the baseball team rallied from a 9-2 deficit with seven runs in the bottom of the ninth in 2014 and went on to stun No. 1 Oxnard 10-9 on a sacrifice fly by Jimmy Hill in the 10th. And he's been impressed by the success of the women's water polo team, which won a state title in just its fourth season in 2017 and has won six straight WSC titles and 30 or more games for four straight years.
Loveton was also awarded a Santa Barbara City College "Everyday Hero Award" by then-President/Superintendent Dr. Anthony Beebe in 2018.
Dr. Beebe presented Loveton the award during a ceremony at an SBCC basketball doubleheader and said at the time, "Many of the parents, grandparents, friends and others related to the athletes depend upon your stories and statistics to understand what their kids are doing. For all those reasons and more, I'm going to present you with the 'Everyday Hero Award.' "
While reflecting on his time at SBCC, Loveton remained humble and gracious.
"I love going to the games, it keeps me young," said Loveton. "I love City College sports, keeping statistics and making sure everything is done right. My office is on top of La Playa Stadium and it's one of the most beautiful views in America with the palm trees and Pacific Ocean in the background. It doesn't get any better than that."
(Rocco Constantino, SBCC Athletics)