Monday, September 10, 2012

Top 10 most famous Foothill High alums

-- by @Josh_Suchon

A recent brief Twitter exchange between myself and former classmate Gabrielle Union got me thinking about the most famous alums at my high school. A quick check of Wikipedia showed that either my school is either really pathetic in developing famous people, or Wikipedia needs some help. Either way, I decided it was time to research my school further, and compile a list.

My school is Foothill High in Pleasanton, Calif., a middle-class suburb in the East Bay. It’s a fairly new school. It was founded in 1973 with a freshman-only class. Each year, a new freshman class was added, and the first graduating class was 1977.

The list will probably be a work-in-progress, as more names are brought to my attention. 

But for now, here goes:

1. Actress Gabrielle Union (Class of 1991)
Union was in my graduating class. It was easy to remember Nicky, as she was called back then, primarily because she was one of two black females in our graduating class. She was an all-league point guard on the girls basketball team, was involved in student government and leadership, and ran on the track team.

In college, Union started at Nebraska and played soccer briefly, then went to Cuesta College, then to UCLA, where she planned on attending law school and becoming a lawyer. Union did an internship at a modeling agency that changed her life. The agency realized she should be getting photographed, not making coffee and copies, and her modeling career was launched. That led to some acting roles.

High SchoolHer break-through role was in 2000’s “Bring it On” as the cheerleader from the rival black school, opposite Kirsten Dunst. Union was in the blockbuster hit “Bad Boys II” and also “Deliver Us from Eva.” She appeared on a memorable 2001 episode of “Friends” when Joey and Ross were both into her. It was memorable because she was the first black character ever on the New York-based show. Her IMDB page lists all her credits.

Union is currently dating Miami Heat superstar Dwyane Wade, she was ranked 52nd in Maxim’s “100 Sexiest Women” in 2002, and she has a couple new projects that should be in theaters in 2013.

Most impressive to her former classmates, she attended the 10- and 20-year reunions, and graciously posed for photos – even with people who didn’t know her then, but wanted to show off to their friends and kids by getting a photo with her. 

Same old Nicky. Just goes by Gabrielle now.

2. SF Giants shortstop Brandon Crawford (class of 2005)

In our second update of the Top-10 Foothill High alums, Brandon Crawford rockets from sixth to second place, after helping the San Francisco Giants win the 2012 World Series.

Crawford was born in Mountain View, and his family moved to Pleasanton when he was in grammar school. His parents were die-hard Giants fans and he went to numerous games as a kid. 

In fact, a San Francisco Chronicle photographer took a cute photo of him on the final day of the 1992 season, when the Giants appeared to be moving to St. Petersburg, Fla. The photo resurfaced and accompanied a column that Ann Killion wrote for the Chronicle during the 2012 playoffs.

After playing for the Falcons, Crawford attended UCLA and led the Bruins to three consecutive trips to the NCAA Regionals. He was named the team MVP in 2006 and 2007.

The Giants selected him in the fourth round of the 2008 draft. Crawford sped through the Giants farm system because of his superb defense. The offense was slow to come around, but it greatly improved during the 2012 season.

In the playoffs, Crawford delivered some clutch hits, and also laid down sacrifice bunts or whatever else was necessary. Defensively, he was simply sensational, and the world saw it on the biggest stage. In fact, Dodgers catcher A.J. Ellis called him the best defensive shortstop in the majors

Crawford becomes the first Foothill High alum to win a world championship in a team sport.

This is his page, which includes all his career stats.

3. LPGA golfer Paula Creamer (didn’t graduate)
I’m still researching just how long Creamer attended Foothill High. It wasn’t very long, maybe a year or even only a semester. She grew up in Pleasanton, lived in Castlewood, and her backyard was essentially the country club golf course. That’s where she learned golf.

Creamer became so good, her family moved to Florida and she attended The Pendleton School, a private school for elite athletes, while honing her game at the David Leadbetter Golf Academy. Creamer qualified for the LPGA on her first attempt, and won Rookie of the Year in 2005.

Since then, Creamer’s won nine tournaments, finished in the top-10 81 times, and has over $9 million in career earnings. She’s nicknamed “the Pink Panther” because she loves the color pink, usually wears pink on the course, and often uses a pink ball.

We’re claiming her as a Falcon, even if we’re not sure how long she was actually on campus.

4. Former NFL defensive lineman Keith Millard (class of 1981)

Millard came from relative obscurity to play nine years in the NFL, most notably with the Minnesota Vikings. He was a Pro Bowler in 1988 and 1989, still holds the NFL record for sacks (18) in a season by a defensive tackle, and was the NFL Defensive Player of the Year in 1989. He suffered a major knee injury the next season and was never the same.

At Foothill, Millard played linebacker and tight end. He was kicked off the football team early in his senior season after a fight on the field. His only scholarship offer was at Washington State, where he was initially a tight end. After moving to the defensive line, Millard blossomed into a pass-rushing monster and was drafted in the first round, 13th overall, by the Vikings.

Millard had a tough childhood, filled with abuse, acted out frequently, suffered from low self-esteem, and always had a pretty big temper. His mom kicked him out the house in his senior year, after he threw a rager of a party, when she was out of town, that thrashed the house.

This lengthy Sports Illustrated article is filled with great details, including quotes from our beloved Economics teacher, George “Dr. B” Baljevich. Millard considered joining the Marines, but Baljevich convinced him to stay in school and let Millard live with him.

Millard is currently a coach with the Tennessee Titans. He’s also coached the Raiders, the Bucs, in the short-lived XFL, and at Merced College.

5. Professional golfer Todd Fischer (class of 1988)

In high school, Fischer was overshadowed on the golf team by teammate Bryan Pemberton. Fischer was always a quiet, well-liked student. I recall he was a benchwarmer on the basketball team, and the students would chant “We Want Fisch” when a victory was in hand. The students would go crazy if Fisch entered the game, and crazier if he made a basket.

Fischer's truly calling was golf, however, and he played at the University of San Francisco. The word "grinded” is probably the best way to describe his professional career. He played on the Nationwide Tour and PGA tour from 2001-2011. On the PGA, Fischer had four third-place finishes. He won the 2002 Fort Smith Classic on the Nationwide Tour, and also won the 2009 Northern California Open.

According to thePGA’s website, Fischer’s earned over $550,000 in winnings. That probably doesn’t include earnings on the Nationwide Tour.  

6.Guitarist Ryan Roxie (class of 1983)
Ryan Roxie

Out of all the Foothill alums researched, discovering Ryan Roxie was most exciting to me because I’d never heard of him before. But thanks to Wikipedia and Google, I learned that he played with Alice Cooper. He was recommended to Cooper in 1996, proved himself in an audition, toured for a year with Cooper, and recorded the studio album Brutal Planet in 2000. 

Roxie currently lives in Stockholm, Sweden and founded a band called Roxie 77. In case you’re wondering, he’s reached the maximum number of friends allowed on his Facebook page. You can follow him on Twitter @RyanRoxie, but he’s not a frequent tweeter. His website is very detailed and you can listen to a lot of his music there.

The Wikipedia page, which you always have to take with a grain of salt, provides a lot more details about his musical career. It’s a fascinating look at a Falcon that most of us probably didn’t know.

7. KPIX anchor Juliette Goodrich (Class of 1986)
Goodrich is the ultimate feel-good Pleasanton/Bay Area story, since she managed to stay so close to home. After graduating from Foothill, she went to college at UC Davis. Her broadcasting career began at the local TV 30 in Pleasanton. Goodrich paid her dues, advancing in market sizes from Redding to Chico to Davis and then San Francisco.

This bio on the KPIX website lists all of her accomplishments and Emmy awards.
In the mid-2000’s, Goodrich returned to Foothill for the annual “Alumni Career Day” and we shared the same classroom. 

She told the class the favorite story of her reporting career, at least at the time, was her exclusive coverage of international fugitive James Nivette’s capture in France.

8. Former NFL offensive lineman Rich Moran (Class of 1981)

Like most offensive lineman, Moran led a fairly anonymous life in the trenches. He played for nine years in the NFL, all with the Green Bay Packers, after they drafted him in the third round in 1985 out of San Diego State. (As a fellow Aztec, it pains me not to move Moran up higher on this list.)

Moran and Millard were teammates at Foothill High, and remained good friends. They went head-to-head twice a year when the Packers and Vikings met.

I found an article about those two that can’t be linked, but I was able to capture two screen shots. If you zoom into the photos, you can read the article that provides great details about their background in Pleasanton. 

It’s pretty funny how they ripped former Foothill coach Frank Sullivan for not wanting John Madden to help out on the team.

Rich’s father, Jim Moran, founded Professional Sports Marketing in 1986 and negotiated four of Rich’s contracts with the Packers. After Jim passed away, Rich took over and is now president of the company

So for any future Foothill High football players, if you ever make the NFL, you can always keep it in the Falcon Family by hiring Moran to represent you.

9. Bassmaster fisherman Mark Tyler (Class of 1991)

This is a pretty cool story because Tyler was part of my graduating class, I knew him extremely well going back to third grade, and I remember him saying that he was going to a professional Bass Master when he grew up. I didn’t know what that meant, and I really didn’t know that you could make a living catching fish. 

But I’ll be damned, you can, and Tyler has done it very well. According to the Bassfan websiteTyler earned over $350,000 – and that was only through 2009. That doesn’t include the money you make in sponsorships, which are the most lucrative. This article shows Tyler signing with Denali Rods.

The bottom of Tyler’s Bassfan page mentions he likes to play basketball when he isn’t fishing. That made me smile, since Tyler was on my youth basketball team, I definitely remember he always stuck his tongue when he was shooting the ball (like Michael Jordan), and I spent countless days playing H-O-R-S-E with him in the driveways of Valley Trails.

This YouTube video shows Tyler giving his advice on swimbait techniques. I have no idea what that means, but I'm impressed.

10. Arizona Diamondbacks pitcher Brad Bergesen (Class of 2004)

Bergesen was drafted in the fourth round of the 2004 draft by the Baltimore Orioles. He made his debut in 2009 and was a member of the Orioles rotation for most of the 20010 season. He struggled in 2011 and has spent most of the last two seasons in the minors. This is his baseball-reference page with all his career stats.

In July 2012, the Orioles placed Bergesen on waivers, and the Diamondbacks claimed him. They called him up to the majors and put him in the bullpen, where’s pitched well and remains right now (a 2.66 ERA in 12 appearances at the time this was published). 


Honorable mention (listed alphabetically):

Greg Christian (Class of 1983) was one of the original members of Bay Area thrash metal band Testament. Christian was the bassist through 1996, then rejoined the band in 2004. He also played with the band HavocHate and recorded their 2005 album, "Cycle of Pain."

Todd Davis (Class of 1990) was the runner-up on Season 2 of HGTV’s “Design Star.” You can view one of his projects here (after the commercial)

Erin Kelley (Class of 1988) made a guest appearance on one episode of The Real World Los Angeles in 1993.

Sean Mannion (Class of 2010) is the starting quarterback at Oregon State University. Many people in football circles consider him a future NFL quarterback. If so, he'll move into the Top 10 of this list. What we like most is that in his college bio, he lists beating Amador Valley all three times on varsity as his biggest athletic thrill.

Amy McBride attended Foothill as a freshman, before moving to Utah and graduating in 1990. She attended Arizona State University, where she met and later married golfer Phil Mickelson. McBride has fought a courageous public fight with breast cancer over the last year.

Clayton Stroope (Class of 2002?) is the lead singer of the band Thriving Ivory, which was named a VH1 "You Oughta Know" band. Stroope founded the band at UC Santa Barbara with keyboardist Scott Jason in the mid-2000s. They spent three years of touring non-stop to promote their self-released albums, and they've now signed with a major label. You can hear some of their music at the band's website, or go to YouTube, where over 487,000 have viewed their hit song "Angels on the Moon." 

Jason Tarver (Class of 1993) is the defensive coordinator for the Oakland Raiders. Traver played defensive back at West Valley College in 1994-95, then went into coaching almost immediately at the same school. He was a graduate assistant at UCLA from 1998-2000, offensive quality control coach for the 49ers in 2001, 49ers linebacker coach from 2002-2010, Stanford’s defensive coordinator in 2011, and was hired in Feb. 2012 to be the Raiders defensive coordinator. If he can improve the Raiders defense and get to the Super Bowl, I guarantee that I'll move him into the Top 10.

Rob Williams (Class of 1988) is the co-host of the “Rob, Arnie & Dawn” radio show in Sacramento. When I was a low-life freshman, Williams was a senior and the sports editor of the campus newspaper, InFlight, and he assigned me stories. Even back then, Williams had all the tools to be successful in his current job: opinionated, passionate, witty … and terrible at sports himself.


This is not a finished list. It will continue to be updated. If there's somebody who's been forgotten, send me a note about their accomplishments, and they will be noted when this post is updated.


If you liked this blog post, you might also like this tribute to my former Foothill High classmate Jeff Coulthart.


  1. Josh - Great list so far! I enjoyed the trip down memory lane!

    Stacy Page Cooper
    Falcon Pride!
    Class of 91

  2. What about Amy Mickelson? Married to pro golfer Phil Mickelson. She was class of '90 but only attended her freshman year.

  3. Clayton Stroop? Don't know much about him or the band Thriving Ivory, but I've heard they are doing well? I know I saw one of their videos on MTV. He was c/o 2000?

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