Former Trojan MVPs reflect on their experience as a Skyline athlete

Both alumni are now making differences at the high school level


Steven Rissotto

Anthony Haggins and Brandon Ramsey both now have prominent roles at California high schools.

In the 1990s, Skyline basketball teams were eager to win championships, eventually winning four of them in seven years. One of those years was in 1998, with freshman Anthony Haggins leading the charge and winning the team’s annual MVP award.

Growing up, basketball was everything for Haggins’ family.

“I come from a basketball family,” Haggins said. “My grandfather started an organization years ago in East Palo Alto. He coached basketball, baseball and little football; I also had uncles who are in the high school Hall of Fame for basketball and a couple of them went on to play college basketball. I had a choice but I also didn’t have a choice. I didn’t have to play but why wouldn’t I?”

While playing for Skyline, Haggins was a freshman and his brother was a sophomore at Cañada College where he was the basketball team’s starting point guard.

At first, college wasn’t in Haggins’ long-term plans and he contemplated not enrolling in favor of becoming an auto mechanic. He later changed his mind and followed suit with his brother to play basketball for the Cañad Colts.

“I talked to Michael Garza, who was once coach at Cañada, and he pretty much told me all the players who were returning to play,” Haggins recalls. “And he pretty much told me that I was a scrub and I said ‘heck nah.’

In frustration, Haggins asked Garza who the rival school was for the Colts. After hearing Garza’s answer, Haggins took his talents north to become a Skyline Trojan.

The team had a strong bond and winning a championship motivated him and his teammates to go and win another one. There were arguments along the way but they still worked together when it was game time.

“We had problems but it was more like we were competitive and some matches we had near fights, and arguments but that brought us some much closer,” Haggins said.

After Skyline, Haggins continued to play basketball. He received a Division I scholarship to play with his brother at Western Illinois University, but he stayed just one semester. The following semester, he played at Azusa Pacific University in Southern California.

To this day, Haggins still keeps in contact with his former teammates and coaches, some even as frequent as three times a week.

“Even till this day I still check in with Coach (Pete) Pontacq,” Haggins said. “He is always trying to hustle me on the golf course.”

If Skyline was a four-year university, Haggins says he probably would have stayed for all four seasons because he had the best time of his life playing for the Trojans, especially with all the memories that have stuck with him since the championship-winning season in 1998.

“Playing at (San Francisco) City College, the whole city was there at the gym,” Haggins said. “The playing conditions were tough and it had a hostile environment, but also shutting the crowds up was the best part.”

At the moment Haggins is a high school counselor at Corona High School in Corona, California.

Baseball is not just a sport, it’s a sport that can help you bond with people.

In 2004, Skyline’s baseball team won its first championship in over 20 years. This couldn’t have been done without the leadership of head coach Dino Nomicos and his club, including right fielder Brandon Ramsey.

“It was great,” Ramsey said. “We had a really good group of guys. Everybody worked hard. Everyone cared about each other. We also went out to eat with each other, going out to parties with each other.”

That bond that everyone had continued throughout the championship game against College of San Mateo on May 6, 2004. The Trojans defeated the Bulldogs 10-11 to improve to a 28-6 overall record, clinching a Coast Conference North Division title. The win was significant, as CSM entered into the season as two-time defending champions.

Freshman Steve Dorst recorded two homers, including a grand slam. He finished the day with six runs driven in. Ramsey chipped in with a two-run double in the fourth. Starter Alvaro Orozco went 6 ⅔ innings and allowed just four hits and two earned runs.

Up a run in the ninth, Dan Rosaia represented the last hope for the Bulldogs.

“Rosaia was up to bat, a big lefty and they had to cut down a few runs,” Ramsey remembered. “I played with him (Rosaia) at Serra and he ended up hitting a fly ball to me and I just remember catching the ball. Then hands went up, everyone ran to center field. That was a pretty special memory.”

Many players had a few leaders that helped guide them through the season and for Ramsey that was assistant coach John Quintell, a former New York Yankees minor leaguer.

“He really took me in (during) a time of my life that needed a good role model and he really helped me,” Ramsey said. “He was super motivating and taught us so much, and he was a good person. He was really impactful in my life and he still has that impact on me until this day.”

Ramsey started playing baseball at a young age in South San Francisco and his dad helped coach his youth teams.

“I also had a lot of friends also playing so it was a good time being out there with everybody,” Ramsey said. “South City is a great city to start playing baseball because there are many teams that you can join at a young age and the coaches there will help you develop to the potential you wanna be at.”

After leaving Skyline, Ramsey went on to play for Lewis-Clark State in Idaho and then transferred the following year to Lee University in Tennessee.

Baseball remains with Ramsey to this day, as he’s currently in his eighth year as the head coach at Archbishop Riordan High School in San Francisco. He also teaches an auto shop class and serves as the director of facilities.

Advice for freshmen looking to start playing baseball at Skyline? Ramsey hopes for the next wave to win another championship.

“It’s been a long history of a lot of hardworking taught kids that really came together to try and accomplish something special, which was to win a championship,” Ramsey said. “Dino Nomicos is still there and he is a good man and cares about the kids. Go out there and win another one for him. You can do it if you guys buy-in and give it everything you got, and just put your focus into that one goal.”