CONCORD -- Doug Brien headed a group of five athletes and two teams inducted into the De La Salle High School Athletic Hall of Fame on Oct. 27.
The captain of the 1989 soccer team -- which was one of the teams honored -- and a kicker in the NFL for 12 years including on the San Francisco 49ers 1994 champions, Brien told the crowd, "There's a lot of people I would like to thank, but there's two people I have to thank — my parents."
Brien played three years of varsity soccer for the Spartans. He went out for football as a senior at the urging of his dad.
"It was not part of the plan," Brien said. "My dad had this idea that I could be a kicker. But my dad also wanted me to play for coach (Bob) Ladouceur."
Other inductees were Mark Viera, a 1971 graduate who played three years of varsity basketball, Patrick Oswald, a three-sport star who was named Athlete of the Year in 1983, Antonio Vernon, a member of North Coast Section championship football and baseball teams who graduated in 1986, and Tom Coughlan, a Class of 1997 standout in water polo and swimming who went on to play professional water polo in Europe.
In addition to the 1989 soccer team, which was the first soccer team in school history to win an NCS title, the 2000 basketball team was also honored. That team was the first in school history to capture a California Interscholastic Federation championship.
Thomas Baldacci was named Distinguished Alumnus of the Year. Baldacci (Class of 1977) was the first of three brothers to graduate from De La Salle. His four sons also graduated from the school.
Baldacci has served on advisory boards and committees for the school while also building a home construction and a wine business.
Kenneth Hofmann was also honored for his support of De La Salle athletics. Hofmann has long been a supporter of Catholic educational institutions in the area, including St. Mary's College.
The ceremony was emceed by Sean Farnham, who played basketball at De La Salle (Class of 1996) and who is now a color commentator on ESPN's college basketball telecasts.
Brien said that he learned more in his season playing for Ladouceur, "than I did in any year of my life."
"Winning and losing -- it didn't matter," Brien said. "It's what you put into it."
He said the philosophy Ladouceur imparted is that if at the end of the day, you can look at yourself in the mirror and know that you did everything you could to make yourself better, than you are a winner.
"Since retiring in 2005 and entering the business world, the same things apply," Brien said.
Brien co-founded Waypoint, a company that purchases foreclosed houses, renovates them and then rents them out in an effort to help displaced homeowners.
Oswald talked about earning Athlete of the Year, an award that was created by Hofmann.
"This honor changed my life," Oswald said.
Viera told the crowd that he has a "Spartan Brotherhood" bumper sticker on his truck back home in Montana. All the recipients spoke about how going to De La Salle affected their lives.
And some noted how quickly the time has passed.
"It's been 27 years but it really does feel like yesterday walking down these halls," Vernon said.
The ceremony wasn't without humor. The power went out midway, meaning the video tributes to some of the athletes were never played.
Farnham told Brien that he had watched Brien's tribute and that he should request a copy.
While Coughlan was speaking, a toddler began crying and had to be taken out of the room. Without missing a beat, Coughlan said, "Yeah, I know."