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Craigheads: Like father, like son

Dad helped son and son helped dad and it almost was too dizzy to comprehend, how much they did for each other, how much they have done for other people. To the point that you must understand that both names must be included to form the necessary and perfect symmetry, that resulted in this: Byron and Jason Craighead were inducted Saturday night into SRJC's Athletic Hall of Fame. Joined by blood and mutual influence.

Theirs is a story every father would love to tell and every son would love to say, Thanks, Dad. And the best way to begin this is at the end, a year ago, when Byron agreed to teach a once-a-week, two-and-half hour class in athletic training for a string of 17 Fridays at Los Positas College in Livermore. Jason coaches swimming and diving at Las Positas as well as teaching health, physical education, aquatics and sports psychology.

Byron would stay the night and hang out with Jason and his family during the day. Byron would watch Jason organize pick-up games of basketball with the college's math professors, and ones from biology, and the sciences, and the English department, from all departments really.

"Just like I did at the JC," said Byron, who retired in 2007 after 36 years of teaching the health sciences and athletic training at SRJC. "Just like I did, just like I did."

Byron would see Jason work with Las Positas students and athletes after hours, would learn Jason's phone was always there for someone who needed it, would see how Jason could move within a crowd, comfortably, with ease, creating a true social network that didn't need the engine of Facebook to run it. It was the passion Byron recognized as so very familiar.

"All of that, what he did," Byron would say, "it was just like what I did at the JC. I established a trust, a connection with people and now I saw Jason doing it. It was inspirational for me to see it."

Saturday night at the Fountaingrove Inn, the Craigheads were two of the five inductees, wrestler David Montano, runner Trina Cox and track and field star Tom Daniels being the others. All were worthy, all had a nice athletic resume and all needed no introduction or validation. The Craigheads had their little special niche because, well, not many Hall of Fames have a father-son inductee combo platter, much less at the same banquet.

Jason, 35, was a seven-time junior college All-American in 1995-96 and the five individual school records he established, each record had been held by a different swimmer. And each of those five individual records he held, they were eventually broken by five different swimmers. In other words, Jason was nearly a one-man swim team.

As for Byron, 66, he was a USOC athletic trainer at the Salt Lake City and Vancouver Winter Olympics. He has worked for the NFL's Raiders and with professional rodeo cowboys. With 36 years of teaching and training at SRJC, Byron has a list too long to assemble of former athletes who still come to him for advice.

"And I am one of them, and I still do," Jason said. After he left SRJC and while swimming for UC Santa Barbara, Jason drove back an estimated six times from Santa Barbara for his dad to take a look at his troublesome shoulders. As for phone calls he made, too many to count, Jason said.

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