2013 Glendale Community College Hall of Fame: Stokes perfected art of intimidation
Former Glendale Community College standout football player will be inducted into college's athletic hall of fame on Saturday
Former standout GCC football player Bill Stokes will be inducted into the college's athletic hall of fame on March 9. (Tim Berger / Staff Photographer / February 27, 2013)
Get to the line of scrimmage and quickly try to find a way to upset the timing of the opposing teams' offensive line before ultimately finding a hole to make life miserable for a quarterback by recording a sack.
Stokes mastered that talent throughout his high school and college careers, which included a stellar two-year stint as an outside linebacker with the Glendale Community College football team. Whatever path Stokes took to get to a hurried quarterback, it usually ended with a positive result for the Vaqueros.
The tackles and sacks piled up, forcing opponents to continuously center their game plans around Stokes.
“There was nothing better when I took the field then trying to find that hole and doing something good for my team,” said Stokes, who will be inducted into the college's athletic hall of fame Saturday along with Joe Staub, Dave Greenbaum, Hal Sears, Terry Coblentz and the 2005 men's tennis team at the college's J. Walter Smith Student Center. “We had a lot of success, but I was a small part of it.
“Whatever I had to do to make us successful and give us a chance to win, I would do.”
Stokes achieved plenty of success and praise at Glendale college, capped by helping the Vaqueros win the Potato Bowl in 1985 and earning Junior College Grid Wire All-American and All-Western State Conference honors. He still holds the program's record for most sacks in a season with 17, set in 1985.
Yet, getting to Glendale college from the neighboring San Gabriel Valley had a couple of twists and turns.
A remarkable two-sport athlete, Stokes initially planned for a lengthy career in baseball and following the path of his uncles, who played for the Pittsburgh Pirates and Cincinnati Reds. When he encountered some right-shoulder trouble while playing for the Pasadena High baseball team, Stokes needed to steer himself in a new direction.
“I've been around sports my whole life, so it was in my blood and pitching is what I wanted to do,” said Stokes, who was drafted by the Toronto Blue Jays in 1984. “I wanted to go and pitch at USC and then have a 20-year career.
“Things were going beautifully at Pasadena and I had scouts from the major league and colleges out at all of our games. I was throwing hard and carving out my territory to try to get to my dreams. A few games into my senior season, it just came to an end. I developed bursitis in my shoulder and it was an extreme kind of pain. I tried to lift my shoulder above my head and the pain just radiated.
“I was just 18. A scout from the Blue Jays came to my house and said they would offer me $10,000 and play rookie ball in Medicine Hat, Alberta, Canada. I wasn't sure about that, though everybody should be happy when they are lucky enough to be drafted. Would I be happy playing first base if I went and took the offer from Toronto? I had turned down a few football scholarships. It got to the point where I really didn't have any solutions. I had to make some quick decisions.”
Stokes, who also played football at Pasadena, found higher ground in 1984. Derick Bruton, a former classmate of Stokes' from Pasadena, suggested Stokes play football and maybe baseball at Glendale college.
Glendale college turned into a perfect environment for Stokes, who played on the college's football and baseball teams.
“Derick said I should consider continuing my football career and that GCC might be a good fit for me,” said Stokes, who is a real estate investor and resides in Los Angeles. “I had never stepped foot on the campus until I had enrolled there.
“Things took off from there.”
Stokes met defensive coordinator John Cicuto, who would ultimately become head football coach from 1989-2007.
Cicuto, who joined Glendale as an assistant under head coach Jim Sartoris in 1975, worked with Stokes to further strengthen his career.
“I told coach Cicuto that I had no long-range plans playing football,” Stokes said. “I told him that I might play one football season and that I wanted to be a pro baseball player.