Story by John Leykam
Daughter, Jayne, with basketball. Left to right in back: Joe '76, Pam '82, and Nate.
Joe Appel '76, youngest of four brothers from Southern California to attend Saint Mary's College, made his mark as a four-year, 6'7" basketball center for the Gaels. Now he and wife, Pam, happily root for daughter, Jayne, a 2006 Carondelet High School graduate who enters Stanford this fall on a basketball scholarship.
The Appels have been deeply involved in the academic and athletic development of Jayne and her three brothers: Mike, a former football player at College Park High; Tommy, a former De La Salle High basketball player, and 14-year-old Nate, currently playing hoops at De La Salle.
Competing against three athletic brothers helped Jayne become a marquee talent who was recruited by many of the nation's top women's hoops programs before committing to Stanford. "They always played hard against each other in games at home. The boys helped toughen Jayne up and she's never held back against them either," Joe said.
"I was a fair player in high school (Bishop Montogmery in Torrance) and at Saint Mary's, but Jayne is a far better all-around talent," Joe said. "She's got the complete game. I got to see that talent developing by coaching her in CYO and AAU programs."
As Carondelet's public address announcer, Joe watched Jayne and her teammates charge through the state basketball playoffs last March. Pam and Nate were in the stands at many games, including the state finals at Sacramento's Arco Arena. Jayne's season ended with her being named a MacDonald's All-American.
"In many ways, it will be tough for all of us to leave Carondelet," Joe acknowledged. "But we'll be able to watch her at Stanford. She was recruited by top schools all over the country, but she thought about her family in making the final decision. We are very proud of her."
Three Appel brothers — John '63, Larry '64 and Mike '70 — preceded Joe at Saint Mary's. Larry, an Oakland Superior Court judge and former president of the College's East Bay Scholarship Fund, played baseball and rugby for the Gaels. Mike also was a Gael rugger. An English major at Saint Mary's, Joe earned the distinction of being the school's top senior student-athlete. He earned a law degree at Hastings College of the Law and went on to a successful legal career.
Joe played for late head coach Frank LaPorte alongside Gael greats Ralph "the Rocket" Walker, Rick Bernard, Craig Cassault and Mike Rozenski. Favorite memories include playing in — and painting — Madigan Gym, a nostalgic bandbox gym. He recalls with special satisfaction a home win over Jerry Tarkanian's UNLV Runnin' Rebels. Joe, who attends some home games in McKeon Pavilion, has been impressed by the men's basketball program's resurgence under coach Randy Bennett. But he recalls the Madigan Gym experience, for players and fans, as being in a class by itself.
Joe fondly recalls his relationships with late Christian Brothers Jerome West, Matthew Benney and Carl Lyons, and former U.S. Poet Laureate Bob Hass. Joe and Ed Tywoniak became fast friends as students and fellow Gael student-athletes. (Tywoniak, a professor in the Saint Mary's Communications Department, played football as a Gael.)
"Those were wonderful times," Joe recalled, "but so are these. We're happy as a family watching basketball and watching Jayne's career unfold."