Golden Valley High School held its second 2023 Hall of Fame dinner last Saturday, Jan. 28, to honor a dozen highly competitive and driven individuals who found success on campus and throughout their careers while making a positive impact in their communities.
The event also served as a fundraiser for the GVHS Foundation, and by that measure it appeared to be an overwhelming success as family, friends and supporters of the inductees packed the large Merced Senior Center banquet room for an enjoyable evening of reminiscing and reconnecting.
Together this year’s inductees represent some of the best from classrooms to newsrooms, from sports to politics, and from agriculture to the legal system.
The youngest of them all, Caitlin Dickerson, a 2007 grad, has notched quite a few high marks in a short amount of time. She is currently a reporter for The Atlantic Magazine, and previously worked as a national reporter for The New York Times, a political analyst for CNN, and an investigative reporter for National Public Radio. Dickerson was a recipient of a 2015 George Foster Peabody Award for her investigative work which uncovered race-based secret mustard gas testing on American troops during World War II.
Adam Gray, from the first GVHS graduating class (1996), was among the group, of course. Gray, a UC Santa Barbara grad, pursued a successful career in the State Legislature and was elected to the California State Assembly in 2012. He served as Merced County’s representative for more than a decade, and in doing so racked up a long list of accomplishments that helped improve the region’s infrastructure and standard of living.
Catherine (Katie) Hill Nutcher, also from the Class of 1996, is considered the most dominant female water polo player in Golden Valley’s aquatic history. She ended her two seasons at GV as MVP of the team, leading in steals and scoring. In her senior year, she was voted All-American and made the first women’s USA youth water polo team. She continued as an All-American at UC Santa Barbara and played for the United States National team from 1996 to 1999.
Bill Hurst was the GVHS Athletic Director and Cross Country/Track and Field Coach from 1994 to 2016. He became the first coach in Golden Valley history to lead any team to a Central California Conference Championship when his Track & Field team claimed the crown in 1995.
Jennifer Madkins (Class of 1996) remains the GVHS record holder for points in a game by a female basketball player with 44 vs. Grace Davis. Her basketball prowess gained the attention of many prestigious Division I schools and she earned a full-ride scholarship to the University of San Francisco where she played for four years. Later she returned to coach the Golden Valley High School freshman girls’ basketball team. And in 2001, she became a Deputy Probation Officer in the community, striving to rehabilitate the lives of wayward teens. She is currently working in the early intervention unit, partnering with local schools to get the lives of troubled teens back on track.
Davy Malaythong (Class of 1996) was a GVHS track and football star. He received a Division 1 Scholarship to play football at Boise State University. He was also named to the All Big West Conference in the 100 Meter track competition. After college, Malaythong played Arena Football in Hawaii, and played at the Tokyo Bowl in 2008. Today, he’s a family man who still competes in marathons and MMA bouts.
Dr. Amanda (Gipe) McKeith, Class of 2002, was a highly decorated and award-winning FFA student during her time at GVHS. She attended Merced College, earning an AA, then transferred to Kansas State and Majored in Animal Science and AG Economics. She went on to earn a Masters at Kansas, and then a PhD at Pennsylvania State University. Amanda’s expertise was welcomed at Fresno State University in 2014 when she became a professor of Meat Science/food safety and a Graduate Program Coordinator.
Hall of Fame inductee Lou Price was the first GVHS School Resource Officer. He was an Air Force veteran who served during the Vietnam War. He went on to serve as a police officer for an incredible 53 years. Recognitions awarded to Lou included Merced City Policeman of the Year, Merced County Lawman of the Year, Merced City Employee of the Year. He is known for his off-campus time spent with at-risk kids.
Richard Regalo appeared to have received the most applause of the night. Dozens of friends and supporters in the local Ag Community showed up to cheer him on. Regalo was GVHS Inaugural Agriculture Department Chair and he is credited for developing high quality AG studies on campus, as well as a highly successful FFA Chapter. He has been the FFA advisor for multiple state and national award-winning teams.
When Laura Tinetti’s name was announced, she went to the podium and gave a moving speech about how her adult life changed after a car accident and she faced adversity head on to recover. The Class of 1997 grad is best known for being a volleyball star, leading her GV team to its first-ever CCC volleyball title. This would lead to a NCAA Division 1 scholarship offer from the University of San Francisco where she would become one of best volleyball players in USF’s history. Tinetti concluded her volleyball career with two years on the AVP pro beach volleyball circuit and playing professionally in the European Professional Volleyball League. Today, she is the executive vice-president of JLL Commercial Real Estate in the Bay Area.
Ranger Wiens (Class of 1998) made a historical impact on GVHS basketball teams that ended up winning championships. He is the fourth highest scorer in the school’s history. But Wiens excelled in baseball too, and he ended up playing for Brigham Young University where he earned Conference Player of the Year and was an All-American. He went to law school, and achieved a successful career, having been recognized as a California Super Lawyer and Trial Lawyer of the Year multiple times.
The GV Foundation also honored the late Helen Nixon as an “In Memoriam Inductee.” Nixon was the first associate principal at GVHS and was known for her student advocacy.
Her husband Calvin accepted the honor on her behalf, and he recalled his wife saying: “Honey, I’m going to Golden Valley to make a difference.”
And then Calvin received some laughs when he told the audience his reply: “I said: ‘How are you going to make a difference? That’s their parents’ job.”
Helen’s further reply got even more laughs: “They’re not doing it,” she said, “and I’m going to do it.”
Calvin went on to note that Helen was influential in convincing the high school district to not charge families any fees with regard to all students taking the SAT test.
One final note: Kudos goes to Five Ten Bistro for creating another fine dining experience for such a large community event.