Manuel “Mani” Hernandez

Mani Hernandez was born and raised in Madrid, Spain. After the deaths of his parents, Hernandez and his sister left their home country to live with their great-uncle in Hayward, CA. He was enrolled as a junior at James Logan High School, where he joined the soccer team. During his senior year, he caught the eye of San Jose State University soccer coach Jules Menendez, who not only recruited the young star to become a Spartan, but also mentored him as a father figure. In 1968, Hernandez’s senior season, the Spartans reached the 1968 NCAA semifinals before falling to the eventual co-champion, Maryland. That same year, Hernandez was selected as a first team All-American and received the 1968 Hermann Trophy as the top collegiate player in the country.

From 1970 to 1974, Hernandez helped advance his sport as a member of the US National Team. In 1970, his two goals against Bermuda propelled the U.S. to the second round of the Pan Am Games – a first for the American squad. In 1972, he scored one of the team’s two goals in a critical match over Jamaica; with the win, the U.S. advanced to the Olympic Games tournament for the first time since 1960. In addition to his history-making success on the international stage, Hernandez made his mark from 1974-76 as a member of the newly-founded San Jose Earthquakes in the North American Soccer League. He scored the first two goals in the franchise history – against the Dallas Tornado and Vancouver Whitecaps. He retired from professional play after stretches with the Detroit Lightning and San Francisco Fog in the Major Indoor Soccer League.

After hanging up his cleats, Hernandez enjoyed tremendous success as a youth coach. In 1976, he led Leland High School’s boys’ team to a Central Coast Section title. In 1981, he led Gunderson High School’s boys’ team to its first CCS playoff berth. In 1982, he began what would be a storied, 31-year career at Presentation High School, where his girls’ teams won 17 league championships and eight Central Coast Section titles. A dozen of his players went on to play collegiate soccer, including U.S. women’s national team members Danielle Slaton and Aly Wagner, and Denmark national team member Mikka Hansen.

Jeff Garcia

Jeff Garcia began his athletic career as a two-sport star in basketball and football at Gilroy High School. He played his first year of college football at Gavilan College, where he was coached by his father, Bobby Garcia. He earned community college honorable mention All-America honors after throwing for 2,038 yards and 18 touchdowns as a freshman.

Garcia then transferred to San Jose State University, where he was a three-year starter and remains among the school’s all-time top-ten rankings in nearly every major passing category. He capped his college career by being named the Most Outstanding Player of the 1994 East-West Shrine All-Star Game. Garcia began his professional football career in the Canadian Football League, where he played for the Calgary Stampeders from 1994 through 1998. During his five years in the CFL, Garcia was a four-time All-Star plus the 1997 MVP of the league’s Western Division. In 1998, Garcia led the Stampeders to the Grey Cup; his performance in the championship game culminated with an 80-yard drive that set up the game-winning field goal on the last play of the game – and earned him the game’s MVP honors.

Garcia returned to the Bay Area in 1999 when he was signed by the San Francisco 49ers. He earned the first of his four Pro Bowl appearances in 2000, his first full season as the team’s starting QB. Garcia retired from the NFL in 2011, having led three different teams to the NFL playoffs (49ers, Eagles and Buccaneers), recording a career total 161 touchdowns and 25,537 total passing yards. Garcia is one of only ten quarterbacks in NFL history who has recorded 30 or more passing TDs in back-to-back seasons (2000 and 2001). Garcia is a member of the San Jose State University Sports Hall of Fame, the Calgary Stampeders Wall of Fame, and the California Community College Sports Hall of Fame. He is currently an Offensive Assistant Coach with the St. Louis Rams.

Chris Carver

A graduate of Cubberley High School and San Jose State University, Chris Carver has long been recognized as one of the most revolutionary coaches and choreographers in the history of synchronized swimming. Carver has been the head coach of the famed Santa Clara Aquamaids since 1984 and at the helm of the U.S. National Team since 1993. Under her direction the U.S. won the gold in every elite, international competition it entered from the 1991 Pan American Games to the 1996 Atlanta Summer Olympic Games. With four of her Aquamaids on the 1996 Olympic squad, Carver choreographed and co-coached Team USA to the gold in the team competition. Not only was it the first time that the Olympics included team synchro, it was also the first perfect 100 score recorded in the sport’s Olympic history (individuals, duals, team, etc.) Carver also served as the head coach for the 2000 and 2004 Olympic teams.

Carver’s success and complete dominance in the sport led to her earning USOC Coach of the Year honors for 12 consecutive years (1995-2006) and becoming a 15-time USSS Coach of the Year. Carver is a member of the Women’s Sports Foundation International Women’s Sports Hall of Fame, the USSS Hall of Fame and the International Swimming Hall of Fame; she is also a recipient of the Santa Clara/City of San Jose “Woman of Achievement Award.”

John Carlos

Born and raised in Harlem, John Carlos made his way to the West Coast to attend San Jose State University (then San Jose State College) and train under the legendary track and field coach, Lloyd (Bud) Winter. In those days, San Jose State had earned the nickname “Speed City,” as it was the home track for a long line of extraordinary, lightning-fast sprinters; John Carlos would become one of its best and highly decorated “residents.” In 1969, Carlos tied the world records in the 60-yd (5.9) and 100-yd (9.1) dashes. He also led SJSC to the 1969 NCAA team title with wins in the 100-yd, 220-yd, and 440-yd relay, for which he ran the anchor leg.

While Carlos enjoyed many successes throughout his career, he is best known for his performance at the 1968 Mexico City Summer Olympic Games where he won the bronze in the 200 meters.  After the race, he joined gold medalist and Spartan teammate Tommie Smith on the medal stand, where each bowed his head and raised a gloved fist in a show of solidarity with the civil rights movement.  A photo from that defining moment remains one of the most iconic images in sports history.  In 2005, San Jose State installed a larger-than-life-size statue to memorialize their silent protest.  In 2008, Carlos and Smith received the Arthur Ashe Award for Courage at ESPN’s ESPY Awards.

Carlos’ storied career also includes three years playing professional football – one year in the NFL and two in the Canadian Football League – plus time working on behalf of the US Olympic Committee. He later became a school counselor and coach.  Carlos was inducted into the National Track & Field Hall of Fame in 2003. Carlos received honorary doctorate degrees from SJSU in 2005 and Texas A&M-Commerce (then East Texas State Univ., where he attended for freshman year) in 2012.