Mesa Alumni and Coaches in the Olympics
Ann Heck, Women's Volleyball1968 Women's Volleyball, Mexico City, Mexico
While earning her degree in Physical Education at UC Santa Barbara, Ann was the #1 ranked tennis player for the Gauchos in 1960-1964. Following her graduation, she became a member of the US Volleyball Association All-American Team who went on to win gold in the 1967 Pan American Games then competed in the 1968 Olympic Games in Mexico City.
Seeing a need to promote women’s volleyball Coach Heck started coaching at Carlmont High School in Belmont, CA in 1964 where she started the 1st women’s volleyball program and would also start another program at Corona del Mar High School in 1968. Coach Heck would continue building programs and started her first intercollegiate women’s volleyball program at USC. After earning her master’s degree there, Coach Heck moved on to CSU Long Beach where her volleyball team would make back to back appearances in the National Championship game in 1971 and 1972. From there, Ann took on coaching the US National Women’s team as they competed in the Student World University Games hosted in Moscow, Russia. It wasn’t until 1977 that she would find her way to San Diego Mesa College where she was the women’s volleyball coach until 1999. During her incredible 22 years of coaching she earned 6 conference titles, was named “Conference Coach of the Year” 7 times, named “Conference Coach of the Year” for all sports for 3 years, and was inducted into the California Community College Volleyball Coaches Hall of Fame in 2001. While at Mesa, Ann Heck worked as an Assistant Athletic Director until 2007, participated on numerous academically and athletically related committees. Currently she is member of many prestigious associations which all pertain to the overall promotion of education and physical education and athletics and teaches badminton classes here at Mesa.
Monique Henderson, Track and Field2008 Gold Medal in 4x400m Relay, Beijing, China 2004 Gold Medal in 4x400m Relay, Athens, Greece
Morse High School graduate Monique Henderson started her impressive career at a young age. While in high school, she was named the 1999 USA Junior World Champion in the 400m and the 4x400m. She set school, CIF, and national records -- including her unbroken CIF mark in the 200m and her national prep record of 50.74 in the 400m. As a senior, she won four consecutive State Championship titles in the 400m in 2001, making her one of only four athletes to do so.
After receiving an athletic scholarship to UCLA, she was named “PAC 10 Newcomer of the Year,” and took home numerous awards, including two-time All-American, five-time PAC-10 Champion, and three-time West Region Champion.
In 2004, she competed in the Olympic games in Athens as a member of the gold-medal winning 4x400m relay team. In 2008, again with Team USA in Beijing, she helped her team win another Gold Medal for the USA in the 4x400m.
In recognition of her outstanding career and accomplishments, Coach Henderson was inducted into the San Diego County Women’s Hall of Fame in 2009, and the San Diego Hall of Champions Breitbard Hall of Fame in 2012. Currently, Coach Henderson is one of Mesa’s Track and Field coaches; she also owns and operates a fitness boot camp.
Arnie Robinson, Track and Field1976 Gold Medal in Long Jump, Montreal, Canada 1972 Bronze Medal in Long Jump, Munich, Germany
Mr. Arnie Robinson was born in San Diego and raised in Southern California. While attending Morse High School (San Diego, California), he discovered his long jumping talent, and also competed in basketball. After graduating from Morse High School in 1966, he enrolled at San Diego Mesa College from 1966-69, he then transferred to San Diego Sate University where he graduated with a Bachelors and Masters of Arts in Physical Education. At Morse High School he excelled in Track and Field, as he was the first 4 year letterman in the schools history. His best mark in long jump was 24’- 0”, and he high jumped 6’-8”.
As a member of the San Diego Mesa Olympians’ 1967 and 1969 track and field teams, he excelled as a long jumper 25’-6”, high jump 6’-8”, and triple jump 48’-5”. His performance at Mesa College earned Robinson an athletic scholarship to San Diego State University. In 1970 he won the NCAA Championship in long jump 25’-10”. During his career at SDSU he competed in three events, his best triple records were against Long Beach State where he long jumped 25’-2”, high jumped 6’-10”, and triple jumped 51’-2”. Robinson was an NCAA All-America in 1970 and 1971. He was Pacific Coast Conference Association champion in the long jump in 1970-71. As an open athlete he won the National Championship six times in the long jump (1971, 72, 74, 75, 76, 77). In 1970 he was voted by the Track and Field News the top long jumper in the decade. Arnie was drafted into the U. S. Army in 1971 and he served 1year, 9 months, and 24 days.
After his military services, Arnie Robinson embarked on his Olympic career where he earned two Olympic Medals in the long jump. In 1972 Robinson won the first of his two Olympic Medals with a Bronze in Munich, Germany with a jump of 26’- 4 1/4”. In 1975 Pan Am Games in Mexico City, Mexico he placed first with a jump of 26’-5”. During the 1976 Olympic Games in Montreal, Canada, Arnie won the Gold Medal with a jump of 27’- 4 3/4” which is his best mark in the Olympics as a long jumper. 1977 he became the World Cup Champion with a mark of 26’-9” in the long jump. His personal record as a long jumper came in 1976 during the Olympic Trials in Eugene, Oregon with a jump of 27’-5 3/4”.
Arnie Robinson was inducted into the National Track and Field Hall of Fame in 2000. He has also been inducted into the San Diego Breitbard Hall of Fame in 1984. Coach Robinson retired from coaching and teaching in 2010 after amassing 23 years experience as the Head Track and Field Coach at San Diego Mesa College.
Felix Sanchez, Track and Field2012 Gold Medal in 400m Hurdles, London, UK 2004 Gold Medal in 400m Hurdles, Athens, Greece
Sánchez was born in New York City to Dominican-born parents and was raised in San Diego, California. He attended University City High School and then attended and competed at San Diego Mesa College in 1995-1997 for former Olympian Arnie Robinson. After Mesa, Sanchez transferred to the University of Southern California where he was a Pac-10 champion (400 m hurdles) and an All-American relay champion (1600 m) in 1999.
Sánchez opted to represent the Dominican Republic internationally, and made his debut for that nation in the Pan American games in 1999. Between 2001 and 2004 he won 43 races in a row at 400 m hurdles, including the 2001 and 2003 World Championships.
At the 2003 Pan American Games, Sánchez won the Dominican Republic's first gold medal at the competition and also broke the Pan American Games record in the 400 m hurdles. He was named Track and Field News Track & Field Athlete of the Year in 2003. Subsequently, he won the first ever Olympic gold medal for the Dominican Republic during the 2004 Summer Olympics in Athens, Greece in the 400m hurdles event.
In 2012, Sánchez entered the Summer Olympics in London and took his second gold medal in the 400m hurdles with a time of 47.63 seconds. For his performance in London, Sanchez was awarded the Laureus World Comeback of the Year.