Foothiller soccer teams’ history of excellence

Posted: January 26th, 2018 | Columns, Featured, Foothiller Footsteps | No Comments

By Connie and Lynn Baer

Soccer, a sport which is an international sensation, arrived at Grossmont High School (GHS) in 1970. Since then, boys and girls soccer teams have provided Foothillers with opportunities to create amazing memories for themselves and the school.

Boys Soccer

In 1970-1971, coached by GHS legend Joe Gizoni, the first year of Foothiller Boys Soccer was an informal club team. As there were no soccer fields at Grossmont, the team played on Saturdays at Ocean Beach Field.

The Grossmont High School boys varsity soccer team were the 2016-17 league champions. (Photo courtesy GHS Museum)

From 1971-1985, for 15 years, the team was coached by Rich Bullock. During those years, the teams were league champions in 1973, 1978 and 1986. “1973 was the first year of Grossmont League Soccer and our Fighting Foothillers were the first champions,” shared Steve Danna, Class of 1973. “After two years of club play, we made a statement by winning the inaugural league championship, allowing only nine goals and reaching the quarterfinals of the CIF Championship.”

In 1983, Jonathan Crockett and Michael Attanasio were members of the All Grossmont League Soccer Team, and Attanasio was the League Player of the Year.

Class of 1987 alumnus Paul Wright was the leading scorer in the league both his junior and senior years. Wright set a GHS single season scoring record with 39 goals. In 1987, Wright, Dain De Forest, and Chris Yale were All-Grossmont League Soccer Team selections with Wright chosen as Player of the Year. After graduation, Wright played professionally, from 1987-2013, in the Indoor Soccer League, playing several years on San Diego teams the Nomads, Fusion, and Soccers.

Since 2012, the teams have been coached by Hans van de Vrugt, winning league championships in 2008, 2011, and 2017.

Girls Soccer

The first year of Girls Soccer at GHS was the 1984-1985 season. Amazingly, that year the team won league, becoming the first Grossmont League Girls Champions with a record of 13-2-1. Coached by Ray Widener from 1984-1993 and assisted by John Liberatore, the girls teams won the Grossmont League Championship five times in those nine years.

The Grossmont High School 2016-17 varsity girls soccer team (Photo courtesy GHS Museum)

“I have very fond memories of coaching the ladies’ soccer teams,” Widener recalls. “I was fortunate to always have very talented athletes, who were top students as well. I’m sure they are successful adults. The memorable things are the individual students I coached. They were all great kids. I thoroughly enjoyed them. The key thing for me was seeing how the athletes came together as a team, rather than thinking about themselves as individuals. They put the team first.”

Class of 1988 Foothiller Michelle Miller remembers, “I was a member of the 1985, 1986 and 1988 teams! Good times. The 1984-1985 season was the first season for official girls soccer — the previous year was club. Title IX in action. We’ve come a long way. Go Foothillers!”

Over the years, many girls have been recognized as outstanding players in the league and CIF. In 1987-1988, Andrea Radmilovich was the League Player of the Year, and in 1987, she was the All CIF 3A Soccer League Player of the Year. In 1990-91, Ashley Wilkes was Grossmont League and CIF 2A Athlete of the Year; in 1992, Sherice Bartling was Grossmont League 3A Athlete of the Year and 1992-1993 she was All CIF Division II player of the year.

The next eight years, from 1999-2007, the teams were coached by Jay Sevier, whose teams won three League Championships and CIF in 2000 and 2003.

For 10 years, from 2007 to 2017, John Neil was the coach, winning the league in 2011; this season the girls are coached by first-year coach Fernando Ramos. The girls team is hopeful for a strong league finish with a 9-4-2 beginning to their season.

Through athletic teams such as boys and girls soccer, Foothillers develop their character as well as their school pride.

To learn more about Grossmont’s 97-year history, visit our website at or visit the GHS Museum Wednesday, Feb. 7, from noon-3:30 p.m. or by appointment. Contact: 619-668-6140 on Wednesdays or email

—Connie and Lynn Baer write on behalf of the Grossmont High School Museum.

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