The Al Brenda Track. That will be the name of the state-of-the-art track in the new California State University, Stanislaus Student Recreation and Sports Complex when it opens in late 2008.
In announcing the naming of the track in honor of Al Brenda, the local coaching and athletic legend who died in September 2001, University President Ham Shirvani said the tribute is well deserved.
"Al Brenda was a very special man and highly respected father, coach, teacher, athlete, and businessman," President Shirvani said. " He was an enthusiastic, loving friend to many people all over the world. Since his life had such a positive impact on so many people in Stanislaus County, particularly in track and field competition circles, it is fitting that the Cal State Stanislaus track be named in his honor."
Brenda distinguished himself as a coach at the high school and college level and also founded what is now Brenda Athletic Clubs. He served as head track and field coach for two years (1976-77) at CSU Stanislaus during a career that included 36 years as a teacher and coach at Ceres High School and as an assistant track and field coach at Modesto Junior College. Brenda started the Ceres Invitational track meet in 1958, and it is still acknowledged as one of the premier events in the state.
Brenda's love for track and field and physical fitness turned him into a competitor again in 1977 when he started participating in senior track and field meets. He won a number of individual events as well as many decathlon and pentathlon titles, including the World Senior title in 1982. Brenda won national titles in the pole vault and pentathlon in 1993 and captured a silver medal in the World Decathlon Games held later that year in Japan.
Brenda joined his family in purchasing the Turlock Racquet Club in 1985, expanding the business to include the Modesto Racquet Club in 1991 and the Los Banos Racquet Club in 1995 as part of the Brenda Athletic Clubs.
Brenda and his wife, Esther, who still lives in Turlock, had five sons -- Allen, Tim, Dale, James, and Tom. Tim, James, and Tom all attended CSU Stanislaus and competed in track and field. Tom Brenda, an all-conference pole vaulter for two years with the Warriors, is in his eighth year as an assistant track and field coach. Working with the pole vaulters, he has coached them to a pair of national titles and nine All-American honors.
"This is a great honor and I know my dad would be extremely proud and grateful," said Al's son, Tom Brenda, on behalf of the Brenda family. "I think it's great that the University is reaching out to the local community in this way."
The $16.2 million Student Recreation and Sports Complex will feature a state-of-the-art Rekortan M99 polyurethane micro-foam surface track in the 2,300-seat lighted track and field/soccer stadium.