Blythe’s 2019 Homecoming celebrations kick off this weekend, and the Palo Verde Historical Society & Museum announced this year’s class of Yellow Jacket Sports Hall of Fame inductees to be Palo Verde High School (PVHS) student-athlete legends Irma Gonzalez Dagnino (1994-1997), Jeff Phipps (1990-1993), and David Rowden (1980-1983).
The three inductees will be recognized and honored before the start of the PVHS Yellow Jackets’ upcoming 2019 Homecoming football game at Scott Stadium on Friday.
The local sports legends’ induction ceremony will begin at 6:30 p.m.
This year’s class of local sports icons was assessed for induction using a point-based system for nominations by the museum’s volunteer board.
Each received a set number of points for previous high school, collegiate, and/or professional experience. Taken into account were the number of verified varsity, letter, MVP (Most Valueable Player), all-county, CIF/IVL (California Interscholastic Federation/Imperial Valley League) accomplishments, and more.
Irma Gonzalez Dagnino
“Irma Gonzalez Dagnino grew up in Blythe and the Palo Verde Valley,” stated the Yellow Jackets Hall of Fame. “Irma was a student athlete all through high school and college. Mrs. Gonzalez Dagnino was a 3-sport, 4-year letterperson while attending PVHS.”
Gonzalez Dagnino played three sports during her PVHS career, including:
• 4-year (1994-1997) varsity — Basketball;
• 3-year varsity — Volleyball;
• 1-year varsity — Softball.
“That is a resounding athletic accomplishment in itself. Playing varsity sports as a freshman. Not many students athletes can attest to that,” noted the Yellow Jackets Hall of Fame.
Gonzalez Dagnino’s awards while at PVHS include:
• 1996 1st team All-IVL (Basketball)
• 1996 1st team All-IVL (Volleyball)
• 1996 Team Captain (Basketball)
• 1996 Team Captain (Volleyball)
• 1997 1st Team All-IVL (Basketball)
• 1997 1st Team All-IVL (Volleyball)
• 1997 Team Captain (Basketball)
• 1997 Team Captain (Volleyball)
Following graduation, and a noted 1996 Homecoming Queen title, Gonzalez Dagnino attended San Diego Mesa College and played basketball for two years on the Mesa College Lady Olympians team. The team earned Pacific Coast Athletic Conference Championship from 1998 to 2000.
“It is a compliment to the character and growth of our PVHS alumni to continue on to bigger and better programs and contribute to these programs as Mrs. Gonzalez Dagnino did. It is also a compliment to their coaches. These kinds of accomplishments don’t just happen, they are the results of overall character of a person, their dedication to hard work, direction, motivation and coach ability,” stated the Yellow Jacket Hall of Fame. “If an athlete can travel the road Mrs. Gonzalez Dagnino did, their coachability must be superior. Irma, you have earned a place in the Palo Verde Yellow Jacket Hall of Fame because your teammates believed in you, electing you as team captain two years in a row in two separate sports and your athletic abilities. We are proud of you, especially in a time when our youth need role models. You are a shining example. Congratulations on your induction into the Yellow Jacket Hall of Fame’s Class of 2019.”
Jeff Phipps (1990-1993)
“Jeff Phipps grew up in Blythe playing in all of the recreational leagues offered at that time. There was a lot of evidence during his little league years the young man had tremendous athletic abilities and talent. Jeff is the son of Richard (the Blade) and Becky Phipps (Homecoming Queen 1966). Both are Palo Verde Alumni Classes of 1965 and 1966, respectively,” stated the Yellow Jacket Hall of Fame. “When Jeff entered high school, his true athletic abilities were a showcase for all of the sports fans in Blythe to see. Jeff was a 4-year letterman at PVHS, but more than that, he excelled in most every sport he played.”
During his time as a Yellow Jacket, Phipps played four sports, including:
• 1 year — Golf;
• 3 years — Football;
• 3 years — Basketball;
• 3 years — Baseball.
Phipps’ awards while at PVHS include:
• 1991 All-DVL (Football)
• 1991 All-Inland Empire — Football as a sophomore (”[According to] the Los Angeles Times, this is the first time a sophomore had accomplished this at PVHS,” stated the Yellow Jackets Hall of Fame.)
• 1991 All Riverside County (Press Enterprise, sophomore year)
• 1991 All-CIF (Football)
• 1991 All-DVL (Basketball)
• 1991 All-CIF (Basketball)
• 1992 All-DVL (Football)
• 1992 All-DVL (Basketball)
• 1992 All-CIF (Basketball)
• 1992 All-DVL (Baseball)
• 1993 All-DVL (Basketball)
• 1993 All-CIF (Basketball)
• 1993 McDonalds All-American (Basketball)
• 1993 All-DVL (Baseball)
• 1993 All-CIF (Baseball)
“Jeff was selected to play in the All Riverside County All Star games for football, basketball and baseball in 1993. I would be willing to bet my next retirement check he is the first PVHS student athlete to receive an invitation for three different County All-Star games in one year. I believe everyone would have to agree that is a very impressive shortlist of athletic accomplishments,” stated the Yellow Jackets Hall of Fame historian Charles “Sparky” Bigler.
Notably, Phipps also received a scholar athlete award from the U.S. Army his senior year in 1993.
“After his playing days at PVHS, Jeff received a scholarship from (the) University of the Pacific to play football and baseball. Mr. Phipps played baseball for Delta College and was drafted by two major league teams — (the) Kansas City Royals in 1993 and the Baltimore Orioles organization. Jeff played two years of minor league baseball for the Orioles,” stated the Yellow Jackets Hall of Fame.
Phipps, along with coaching various travel ball teams in tournaments on the off-season, is currently the head baseball coach for the PVHS Yellow Jackets.
“Jeff, your accomplishments on and off the playing field demonstrate your character, determination and drive. These are the attributes that competitive athletics build in our youth as they grow and prosper throughout their lives. You have paid ahead with all the coaching you have provided for the kids of Blythe,” stated the Yellow Jackets Hall of Fame. “We, the old timers, congratulate you on your induction into the Palo Verde Historical Society Yellow Jacket Hall of Fame. It should be a special event for you, your parents and the entire community. Thanks for the memories. Now you can visit yourself at our museum.”
David Rowden (1980-1983)
“David Rowden is the son of Ron and Nell Rowden and the grandson of Walter and Henrietta Scott. ‘Skitch’ Scott, as he was fondly nicknamed, was a 1936 Palo Verde High School graduate and played on the first PVHS football team. Grandmother Henrietta was in the PVHS class of 1940 with both of my parents,” stated Bigler. “Henrietta, God rest her soul, was the surrogate (so to speak, grandmother) for numerous PVHS students and student athletes. This football field is dedicated to the Scott family. Great Grandfather Scott donated the grounds of this stadium to PVHS. Before then, PVHS — as local folklore tells it — played football at the Rodeo Grounds on dirt. The rodeo grounds use to be located where the Rodeo Gardens homes are at this time on North Lovekin.”
Rowden was a four-year letterman during his student-athlete career at PVHS.
“Now how hometown is all of this. David grew up in Blythe. Dave’s mom, Elaine Nell Scott is also a graduate of Palo Verde High School Class of 1960. If you are lucky enough to have a ticket to the homecoming dinner/dance, Nell will be the Master of Ceremonies, introducing all of the alumni classes,” noted Bigler. “Sorry to give all that up, Nell. Nell, Grandma Henrietta and grandchildren have owned and operated Blythe Florist for as long as I can remember. I used to fold papers there on the sidewalk for my paper route, too many years ago to admit. These are the kind of stories that homecoming is all about, former alumni and their children and families representing the community.”
During his time as a Yellow Jacket, Rowden played four sports — including:
• 3 years varsity — Football;
• 3 years of varsity — Basketball;
• 4 years on varsity — Track;
• 2 years varsity — Baseball;
Rowden’s awards while at PVHS include:
• 1981 All-DVL
• 1981 All-Riverside County (Press Enterprise) Football Award.
• 1982 All-DVL receiver (Football)
• 1982 All-DVL Defensive Player of the Year (Football)
• 1983 All-DVL (Football)
• 1983 DVL League Most Valuable Player (Football)
• 1983 All DVL (Basketball), and advanced to the CIF Playoffs.
Following graduation, Rowden attended Golden West College where, in 1983-1984, was All Conference PAC 9 football and defensive captain.
“David’s Father Ron Rowden (now playing football in heaven) played football for Oklahoma State and was very active in the community his entire life along with mom Elaine Nell,” stated Bigler. “The Palo Verde Historical Society and Museum would like to honor Dave Rowden and the Rowden/Scott family (on Oct. 25) as we induct Mr. Dave Rowden into the Yellow Jacket Hall of Fame as one of our hometown heroes class of 2019.”