Obama Federal Court Nominee, Legendary High School Football Coach Announced As Saint Mary's 2013 Commencement Speakers
Two extremely accomplished Saint Mary’s alumni—one, a man who grew up in one of San Francisco’s poorest housing projects and has been confirmed by the U.S. Senate for a prestigious U.S. federal court position and the other, the most successful high school football coach in California’s history— will address undergraduate and graduate students at the150th commencement ceremonies of Saint Mary's College of California.
Troy Nunley '86, who was recently nominated by President Barack Obama to be a U.S. District Judge, will deliver the commencement address for the College’s undergraduates. Robert “Bob” Ladouceur, MA '89, the legendary former head coach of De La Salle High School, who holds the longest winning streak in the history of high school sports (151), will offer the commencement address to Saint Mary’s graduate students.
An expected 680 students will receive their diplomas at the undergraduate commencement on Saturday, May 25, 2013, at 9:30 a.m. More than 460 graduate students will receive diplomas the following day, Sunday, May 26, 2013, at 4 p.m. at the Graduate and Professional Programs commencement. Both ceremonies will be held at SMC Stadium.
Troy Nunley, Prudent Jurist
A Sacramento Superior Court Judge, Troy Nunley was nominated by President Barack Obama as a United States District Judge for the Eastern District of California in June 2012. Obama said he was confident that Nunley would serve the American people “with integrity and a steadfast commitment to justice."
The Eastern District includes 34 counties in eastern and central California stretching from Los Angeles County's northern edge to the Oregon border.
Nunley's nomination was unanimously approved by the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee in February and was confirmed by the Senate on March 23, 2013.
A native son of the Bay Area, Nunley's rise to the bench is an inspirational story. He and his three siblings were raised by a single mother in a housing project in Hunter's Point. One of San Francisco's poorest neighborhoods, it was also marked by street violence during his youth. Gennie Nunley-Thompson, his mother, recently told the San Francisco Chronicle that she used to wake Troy from his bed and instruct him to move to the floor to avoid stray bullets from gunfire outside their home.
While other challenging urban street encounters would follow, Nunley and his siblings persevered, attending Catholic high school and going on to college. Nunley received a Christian Brothers education, first attending San Francisco’s Sacred Heart High School and later Saint Mary's.
Nunley's interest in the judicial system first took root during visits to San Francisco's courts, where his mother worked as a probation officer and where he encountered the world of lawyers, magistrates and jurists. However, he says his preparation for the courtroom began in Collegiate Seminar, Saint Mary's hallmark academic program, where students and faculty explore and discuss the writings of some of the world’s greatest thinkers.
“Having a grounding in the Socratic method definitely helped in terms of following the thread of arguments and being able to synthesize information and deliberate on it,” said Nunley.
Beyond the academic rigor expected of Saint Mary’s students, Nunley said that the College’s commitment to service for the common good made a profound impact on him. And, he hopes to express the importance of service in his commencement address. “I hope to convey to the students the profound belief that a Saint Mary's education in the Lasallian tradition has prepared them to find their life's work and to function as positive, productive members of society.”
He added, “I also hope to encourage the students to use the example of the Christian Brothers and give something back to the community. In conveying both this belief and encouragement, I hope to use my life as a testament to how a Saint Mary's education can impact the community.”
"Troy Nunley’s journey and success illustrates what Saint Mary’s graduates can achieve professionally and how their contributions can improve society overall. I look forward to his wise advice to our students and their families," said Brother President Ronald Gallagher. "President Obama’s selection of Judge Nunley for the federal bench is a recognition of his excellence in the courtroom and his unwavering commitment to social justice, which are principles that are at the core of the College’s values."
Nunley received his undergraduate degree from Saint Mary’s in 1986 and his Juris Doctor degree from the University of California Hastings College of the Law in 1990. His stellar legal career includes operating his own law practice as a sole practitioner, serving as a deputy district attorney in Alameda and Sacramento counties, and as deputy attorney general in the California Department of Justice. Governor Gray Davis appointed Nunley to the Sacramento Superior Court in 2002.
Nunley resides in Sacramento with his wife, a Saint Mary’s alumna, Susan Lawrence '88. The two met and began dating while attending the College. Marriage eventually followed and now the couple has four children.
Bob Ladouceur, Legendary Coach and Mentor
When Bob Ladouceur stepped down in January 2013 as the head football coach for De La Salle High School in Concord, a Christian Brothers High School for boys, all those who value and recognize the pursuit of excellence took notice.
After 34 years, a 151-game winning streak that’s a national record, 29 high school divisional title wins, 17 state championships and a record of 399 wins and 25 losses, Ladouceur said it was time for his longtime assistant, Justin Alumbaugh, a De La Salle alumnus and member of its English faculty, to take over the reins of one of the most successful high school sports programs in the nation.
Ladouceur will continue to support De La Salle’s athletic program as an assistant coach, working on the development of younger players. He will also continue to teach. Ladouceur is a full-time instructor in religious studies. “I enjoy working with this age group, when these kids are going through the most dramatic changes in their life,” he said. “They’re searching for their identities and figuring out what they want to be. I find it very rewarding to help them and be a part of their lives at this moment.”
Ladouceur said he has a great respect for the the values of a Lasallian education and is looking forward to addressing the graduate students at Saint Mary's. "I hope to encourage the students receiving their graduate degrees, who have worked very hard to achieve their goals, to not only pursue excellence in their professional endeavors as they go forward, but to also use their intellectual gifts to help the less fortunate in society, which is in keeping with the College's mission of service for the common good."
Ladouceur began coaching the Spartans football team at De La Salle in 1979. Under his leadership the football program became a model not only of football excellence but also of an athletic program that is an extension of the Lasallian educational mission. “The goals and mission of this school provide the basis for our success,” he has often said.
The tremendous success of his teams and Ladouceur’s influence is demonstrated not only on the gridiron but also in the classroom. De La Salle’s varsity football team is regularly recognized as a scholastic champion for its high grade-point average.
More than one hundred student-athletes from Spartan football teams in the Ladouceur era have received scholarships to top universities and colleges and more than a dozen have played professionally in the NFL, including notable players such as Maurice Jones-Drew, Derek Landri, Amani Toomer and T.J. Ward.
Ladouceur has received national recognition for his athletic leadership, including being named National High School Coach of the Year by USA Today several times; the National Football League’s first National High School Coach of the Year (1995), induction into the National Federation of State High School Associations Hall of Fame in 2001, and an ESPN “ESPY” nomination for “Coach of the Year” in 2004.
He has also been recognized as a Lasallian Educator of the Year, received a Contra Costa County Educator of the Year award and was honored by the African American Ethnic Hall of Fame in Oakland for his coaching and mentorship. In 2012 he was inducted into the Hall of Fame at San Jose State University, which is also his undergraduate alma mater.
Ladouceur played football for, and received his undergraduate degree in criminal justice from, San Jose State University, and he earned a Master of Arts degree in Health, Physical Education and Recreation from Saint Mary’s College. He is a father and grandfather.
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