In a ceremony held on October 20th, UCSD Athletics welcomed Leora Juster, Mike Nalu, and Sheri Takeuchi into its seventh Hall of Fame class. Between them, the inductees have won three national titles, 12 All-America Honors, and several school records; they spoke about the efforts they put into athletics, the rewards they reaped, and the relationships they cultivated along the way.
The three honorees were selected after an extensive nomination and selection process among all former athletes who spent at least two years at UCSD and have been out of the program for 10 years. Said athletic director Earl Edwards, who nears his 20th year on the job, “It’s an opportunity for us to share with others – alumni, family members, and friends – the history of our program. It’s just a chance to tell a story about athletics.”
Basketball star Leora Juster (2003-2007) still has her name all over the school’s record books; she is UCSD’s all time leader in points and field goals in both a season and a career, second in career steals, and third in career assists. “It offers us an opportunity to really look back over a decade after leaving and remember the experiences that you shared with these people,” said Juster of the honor. After being introduced by her former coach, Jenell Jones, Juster spoke about how her time on the team helped her build relationships an elevated sense of purpose. “It’s easier to say there’s so little that it didn’t help me with, since it changed who I am inside, and developed me in terms of getting along with other people, and leading,” Juster said of how athletics has changed her life.
Mike Nalu (1991-93, 1995) also sits atop the UCSD water polo record books in scoring and steals, in addition to his three WWPA Player of the Year and All-American honors. “It’s been wonderful to get my family involved,” said Nalu. “I have two boys and having them in this has been really fun.” Nalu and his coach, the legendary Denny Harper, had glowing praise for one another. “[Harper’s] a real high character, high integrity guy, and surrounds himself with people like that – you’re only going to find good results from that,” said Nalu. “There are a lot of kids out there that you would say are shooters,” said Harper. “But I like to get players who are scorers. And Mike is the epitome of a scorer.” Nalu also spoke about the skills playing water polo gave him: “Sports just teaches you how to compete, how to take loss, how to persevere when things don’t go well – and it all translates in the real world.”
Diver Sheri Takeuchi (1993-96) is no stranger to accolades – she won three national titles, seven All-America honors, and twice broke the national 3-meter record during her time at UC San Diego. “It’s been really great to look back on those years and remember all the fun we had, all the hard work and camaraderie,” said Takeuchi of the award. She mentioned the physical and mental effort it took to maintain her place among the nation’s best for all four years of her collegiate diving career, aided by her parents and coaches. “It helped me learn focus, time management, perseverance, tenacity – things that I try to teach my kids. Not just the accomplishments and the successes, but also the failures.”
The ceremony included many of the honoree’s friends, family, and teammates, as well as current and past UCSD coaches. In Juster, Nalu, and Takeuchi, it brought together many of the school’s greatest athletes to celebrate success – a theme that will surely continue as the Tritons seek to establish themselves as a Division I program.