As parents of a large Catholic family living in Lafayette, Orval and Marianne Millette figured at least some of their six children would become Gaels. Indeed, three — Yvonne ’84, Joe ’88 and Ted ’95 — prepared while young to become Saint Mary’s student-athletes.
“As kids, we used to ride bikes from our home on Solana Drive to the College,” says Joe, now a buyer and project manager for Concord Iron Works. “We’d watch baseball or football practice and then get sodas from a vending machine in one of the dorms.”
“During football games, my brother and I would retrieve footballs from the creek behind the end zone after field-goal and extra-point attempts,” recalls Ted, a financial analyst for Old Navy in San Francisco. “Those were fun times. Players and coaches were real nice to us.”
Yvonne was the first to attend Saint Mary’s, and she excelled at basketball, volleyball and softball. A distinguished pioneer of the College’s women’s athletic program, she was named a member of SMC’s Athletic Hall of Fame. Now an office manager of a large San Francisco law firm, she serves on the Honors Court, which identifies and selects new Hall of Fame members, and can’t help but notice the progress in women’s sports at the College.
“We wore hand-me-down uniforms and had to fight for practice time,” she recalls. “We played junior colleges as well as four-year schools. I remember one basketball game in which rain came through the McKeon Pavilion roof. We put a few trash bins on the court and kept playing.”
Joe had an impressive baseball career at SMC as an infielder, attracting the attention of major league scouts. He started out in the minor leagues in the Philadelphia Phillies organization, and worked his way up to The Show under then-manager Jim Fregosi. Joe played two seasons for the Phillies, including 1993, when the team won the National League title.
After his playing days, Joe returned to Saint Mary’s baseball as an assistant coach under John Baptista. He and San Francisco Giants bench coach Ron Wotus co-authored Get Up & Go Baseball, a drills and instruction book for coaching youth baseball programs.
Following in Joe’s cleat marks, Ted made the Saint Mary’s baseball squad as a walk-on and rapidly developed into an everyday player offensively and defensively. He also extended his baseball career as a player and coach in Sweden. The two brothers still compete in an Orinda adult softball league along with siblings Tom and Tim.
The family has more than baseball connections to Saint Mary’s. Joe married his sister Yvonne’s Saint Mary’s roommate, Jennifer Gonsalves ’84, ECR ’88. The couple resides in Walnut Creek with their three children, Jack, Will and Lauren.
Ted’s wife, Cindy (Jennings), earned a master’s degree from Saint Mary’s in 2000; they live in Oakland. Tim is married to Diane (Mullen), who earned her bachelor’s degree through the School of Extended Education in 1999.
Joe Millette doesn’t hesitate when asked to pick the best athlete in the family. “Hands down, it’s Yvonne,” he raves. “She was very good in so many different sports.”