As UCLA rapidly approaches an unprecedented 100 NCAA team championships, we've spent a fair amount of time paying attention to the last few championships. For a little perspective and history, I thought I'd take a quick look back into the Bruin's glorious past, and UCLA's first 10 championships.
Here we go, the first 10:
No. 1. 1950 Men's Tennis. Led by the legendary William C. "Bill" Ackerman (1921-1950), UCLA men's tennis team (12-4) secured its first NCAA Championship in 1950, the first such title for any UCLA sports program. That year saw Herb Flam become UCLA's first player to capture an NCAA singles and doubles crown (with Gene Garrett) in the same year. Key contributions were also made by co-captain Glenn Bassett.
Yes, he's that Ackerman
No. 2. 1952 Men's Tennis. Just one year after taking over the helm from Ackerman, J.D. Morgan (1951-1966), the second coach of the UCLA men's tennis team, guided UCLA to an NCAA team championship in 1952. Led by captain Keith Self, the Bruins (10-2) tied for Pac-10 Southern Division title before bringing home UCLA's second team championship.
No. 3. 1953 Men's Tennis. J.D. Morgan became the first UCLA coach in any sport to take the Bruins (12-3) to back-to-back NCAA titles. Along the way, captain Larry Huebner joined with Bob Perry to win the NCAA doubles championship.
No. 4. 1954 Men's Tennis. Back-to-back titles? That's nothing to J.D. Morgan, who was the first to lead the Bruins to three consecutive NCAA team titles. This time around, UCLA road an undefeated season (19-0) to capture both Pac-10 and NCAA titles. Bob Perry, now co-captain, became Pac-10 singles champion. Perry also joined his fellow captain Ron Livingston, to take his second consecutive NCAA doubles title.
No. 5. 1956 Men's Tennis. Noticing a theme yet? Yes, UCLA dominated the men's college tennis scene in this era (and for many years afterward). Joe Blatchford led this Bruins team (14-1) to their fifth NCAA title in seven years (and 4th Pac-10 title during the same period). Four Bruin players on this powerhouse squad would be later named All-Americans - twice: Mike Franks, Mike Green, John Lesch and John Cranston.
No. 6. 1956 Men's Track. Led by legendary coach Elvin "Ducky" Drake (the namesake for Drake Stadium), UCLA's men's track team captured their first NCAA championship with the help of Bruin great Rafer Johnson. As a Bruin, Johnson won Pac-10 championships in the hurdles in 1956 and javelin in 1958. Johnson would later hold the world record in the decathlon, and won the gold medal at the 1960 Olympics in Rome, Italy. At the 1956 Melbourne Olympics, Johnson won the silver in the same event. Other Bruin notables on this team include George Roubanis, Ron Drummond and Cy Young.
No. 7. 1960 Men's Tennis. Three-time All-American Allen Fox led the UCLA tennis team (14-3) back to the promised land in 1960. In that year, UCLA won both Pac-10 and NCAA team championships, and Fox teamed up with All-American Larry Nagler to capture the NCAA doubles title. On his own right, Nagler nailed down a NCAA singles championship. UCLA's squad also featured captain and All-American Norman Perry and All-American Roger Werksman.
No. 8. 1961 Men's Tennis. J.D. Morgan's squad returned Fox who, as team captain, captured the NCAA singles crown, while leading the Bruins to yet another men's tennis national championship. Returning All-Americans Fox, Nagler and Perry combined with newcomer and All-American Paul Palmer for UCLA's third undefeated season (13-0).
No. 9. 1964 Men's Basketball. Legendary coach John Wooden led the UCLA men?s basketball team, known as the Cagers, to their first of many NCAA championships in 1964. The Bruins posted an impressive undefeated season (30-0), and beat Duke 98-83 to win the title. The Bruin starters included Keith Erickson, Jack Hirsch, Fred Slaughter, and most notably, Walt Hazzard and leading scorer Gail Goodrich. The 1964 UCLA basketball championship team set several records in that year. They scored more points than any other UCLA team in history at that time, averaging 88.9 points a game. They also set a single game total record of 121 points. Walt Hazzard, an All-American and senior co-captain who was named Most Valuable Player at the NCAA Final Four and national Player of the Year, also set the record for the most points scored by an individual player. In addition, John Wooden, was named ?Coach of the Year.? Both Goodrich and Hazzard went on to distinguished NBA careers, and Wooden was just getting started.
No. 10. 1965 Men's Tennis. The face of UCLA tennis was changed forever with the emergence of one of the greats: Arthur Ashe. In his third year as an All-American, Ashe helped give coach J.D. Morgan his seventh and final NCAA crown, breaking a three-year run by UCLA as NCAA runners-up. Ashe would also win the coveted NCAA individual title as well, and join with Ian Crookenden to take the NCAA doubles championship. The Bruins were loaded with talent, including All-Americans Crookenden, Charles Pasarell, David Sanderlin and David Reed, but it was Ashe who would leave an indelible mark in history by being the first prominent African-American male tennis player to grace both the collegiate and professional tennis world. After graduating from UCLA, Ashe enjoyed an illustrious professional career with three Grand Slam titles (1968 U.S. Open, 1970 Australian Open and 1975 Wimbledon) and two doubles (1971 French Open and 1977 Australian Open) crowns to his credit.
UCLA no doubt has a long, rich athletic tradition which we are enjoying today. In recounting this history, it seemed at times like I was exploring things that happened so very long ago. As I wrote, what really impacted me wasn't so much how much time had past, but how little. In just over five decades, UCLA past by so many schools and sits squarely on the pinnacle. It's been a wonderful 56 years, and hopefully you will enjoy learning more about the old days along with me.