On the grounds of LA’s very own Cathedral High School, we got to know the class of 1969’s Greg Wells, perhaps the greatest all-around athlete to don the purple and white in the late 60’s. 45 years later, we look back at the achievements of not only a great athlete, but a great person.
During his time at Cathedral, Greg was a three-year varsity letterman in both football and track. He excelled in sports with such titles as “All Catholic Track and Field” during his junior year and “All Del Rey Track and Field” during his senior year. During football season, he excelled as a running back and as a memberof the special teams. In the spring, as a member of the track and field team, he blew away the competition and won the hearts of fans and coaches as a superstar in the 100, 200, and 400 relay.
Though a fan of sports, Greg was also devoted to Cathedral’s non-athletic activities as well. As president of the Block C club, he led them to great achievements for the betterment of the school. In student government, he was elected “sergeant-at-arms” during his sophomore year, and then elected again his junior year as recording secretary. Now who couldn’t have asked for a better student that Greg Wells?
Perhaps the highlight of Greg’s high school career came during his senior year at the Shrine Catholic Big Brothers All-Star football game. During this game, he would have an MVP-style performance, scoring a touchdown during the first series of downs and then again while returning a punt.But the overall highlight took place following the game. It seemed that in the stands watching Greg’s performance was legendary USC football coach John McKay, who after witnessing his performance, offered Greg a scholarship.Though already offered one by Loyola Marymount University, Greg would go on to respectfully decline Loyola’s in favor of Cardinal Red and Gold. He would go on to graduate with a degree in business.
Upon graduating from Cathedral and while still attending USC, Greg would return to the campus on Stadium Way in September of 1971 as the assistant coach of the Varsity football team and later that school year as the track and field coach. Always considering academics just as important as athletics, he would also teach at Cathedral as a physical education teacher.
Perhaps the highlight of his coaching career came in 1976 when he was promoted to varsity football coach. Greg’s first move as head coach was making changes in every position. The result…the team would go on to win its first four league games. Although the team would go on to lose its last league game that year agaist Paraclete 17-13, the team would go on to enter the CIF Playoffs for the first time since 1954 and would go on to win its first playoff game since 1947 (over Rowland High School).
Greg would go on to coach both football and track and field a couple of more years before transferring to rival Loyola High School in 1979, where he became their track and field coach. During his coaching career there, he had an amazing record of 104-1 (yes….you read that right!) and won a state championship as well as three CIF titles.
Unfortunately while coaching Loyola, Greg was diagnosed with cancer. Of course, by no surprise, that was not going to stop him from doing what he loved best…coaching. He would go on to coach one final time at a Loyola track meet while confined to a wheelchair following chemo treatment. In 2005, Greg Wells died after a brave and well-fought battle with cancer. He was only 54. He left behind a wife and two children who made him proud. His inspiration was his father Harry and his grandmother Bell. Before his passing, he had one final wish, “I was I may have good health again”. His funeral included those from both Cathedral and Loyola, this time not in rivalry but in unity. USC atheletic director and past Heisman trophy winner Mike Garrett also paid his respect. Greg Wells’ memories and legacy will continue as the track at Loyola High School has been named after him.
Here’s to Greg Wells of the class of 1969, our alumni spotlight recipient for the fall/winter of 2014.