Two of the South Bay's most influential sports figures are leaving the scene, at least for the time being.
Floyd (Scrappy) Rhea, a coach and athletic director at Harbor College since 1963, is retiring in May. Rhea, a Fullerton native, was a star lineman for the University of Oregon in the early 1940s, then played for the NFL Chicago Cardinals and Detroit Lions in 1946 and '47.
Rhea began teaching in the Los Angeles area in 1948 and came to Harbor in 1958 as physical education teacher, baseball coach and assistant football coach, winning a Metro Conference baseball title in 1962. He took over the football team the next season and put Harbor on the athletic map, winning 16 straight games, three conference titles and two Lions Bowl games. His 1964 powerhouse produced two NFL first-round draftees, receiver Haven Moses and quarterback Don Horn.
Rhea took over as athletic director in 1972 and has held that position, as well as that of physical education division chairman, since.
His most impressive accomplishment? It may be that he has not missed a day of work in 39 years.
Meanwhile at Cal State Dominguez Hills, soccer Coach Jeff Friedman, who is still recovering from a September auto accident, has resigned. Friedman compiled a 50-31-8 record in five seasons with the Toros and led them to their first conference crown and NCAA Tournament appearance in 1982.
Friedman has just begun walking again after several months bedridden, and said he wants to spend more time with his young triplets.
The Ajax soccer team, which represented the United States in the recent Women's World Cup in Brazil, placed second by one point but returned to the South Bay as the toast of South America.
The U.S. women went 4-1 in the tournament, losing only to West Germany, 2-1, on a disputed goal. However, the Americans defeated heavily favored Brazil, 1-0, and apparently captured the hearts of soccer fans on several levels. Ajax Coach Fred van Soest of Manhattan Beach said one Brazilian paper said the U.S. victory "destroyed the invincibility of the Brazilians" and was the story of the tournament.
The U.S. women also scored points socially and visually, making enough of an impression off the field that Machete magazine, a leading Brazilian publication, shot a photo layout of the Ajax team in bikinis.
The Ajax team was formed by Van Soest in 1976. Most of the women are South Bay residents who are college players or have recently graduated, but several have played together for the team's entire history, including captain Toni Benton and Van Soest's daughter, Janet, a stellar forward. Former El Camino College star Robin Queen was probably the team's star in the tournament and scored the goal against Brazil off an assist from Heidi Redner. Queen's twin, Jaime, is the other forward.
Hana Bolger, Mary Campos and Lynn Gibbs led the defense that fronted goalie Lori Farber.
The tournament opened a new stadium in Cabo Frio, outside Rio de Janeiro, in a country where soccer is a national craze.
Notes--St. Bernard High School has named Duke Dulgarian head football coach. Dulgarian, the offensive coordinator the last three years, replaces Bill Seaward, who resigned to pursue a broadcasting career. Dulgarian is a 1979 St. Bernard graduate. A school release notes that the team's scoring tripled in the three years Dulgarian called the offense. . . . Cal State Dominguez Hills sophomore John Nojima, a starting guard on the basketball team, has been named to the Western district All-Academic team. Nojima, from North Torrance High, has a 3.96 grade point average in business administration. . . . Loyola Marymount University junior guard Keith Smith needs 25 points this weekend to pass Jim McCloskey and become the school's No. 8 all-time basketball scorer. Smith has 1,223 career points. Both he and redshirt Forrest McKenzie figure to assault Jim Haderlein's school record of 1,706 next season. Smith is also on line to break Haderlein's single-season record of 659. He has 586 and on his current pace (25.5 average) he would end up with about 680.