Mazzucchi

Mike Mazzucchi, shown with a top prize won at Kingsburg in 1993.

Getting into serious athletic competition requires determination, dedication and skill.

Being honored by one’s peers in athletics requires universal recognition of one’s achievement.

The latter happened recently to Patterson’s Mike Mazzucchi. He was inducted into the California Trapshooting Hall of Fame.

The induction of three new members, only Mazzucchi from Northern California, took place late last month in the Los Angeles area. Accompanying Mike to the induction was his sister Dorina Mazzucchi and other family members.

He admits it is quite an honor, but obviously a deserved one. The retired general contractor over the years lugged home numerous trophies and prizes and honed his skills by learning from experts, he admits.

A Patterson native, Mazzucchi graduated from Patterson High School in the class of 1968. Two years later he entered the US Army and a year later was wounded in the leg in Vietnam.

His trapshooting career began in the early 1980s. He credits local residents Mike Lara and John Barbaste with getting him interested in the sport of trapshooting. “John,” he explained, “threw birds by hand in his pasture” in teaching Mike the skill. He then started attending local meets at the Turlock Sportsmen’s Club and the Newman Swamp Rats. His weekend shoots took him from Sacramento to Los Angeles.

Finally settling on the proper shotgun, he expanded his weekend activities to include meets at Reno and Las Vegas. “That’s where I learned from experts,” he recalls.

His fame grew. He ended up on the California state team 17 times and made the All-American team on four occasions. The latter includes 32 of the nation’s top shooters.

Trapshooting became a popular sport here in the valley, with five-man teams competing regularly against each other.

So what does Mazzucchi consider to be his top honor?

“That would be winning the Grand American doubles championship in 2001 in Vandalia, Ohio.” It attracted 4,500 shooters, and 15 of them, including Mike, tied with perfect scores of 100. He won in a 20-bird shoot-off.

He might be shooting yet had it not been for hip problems caused by the military wound. That brought about a replacement and retirement both from the contracting business and competitive trapshooting.

But he’s not done. Five years ago he began the volunteer coaching of kids twice a week at the Los Banos Sportsmen’s Club, teaching the sport to over 100 youngsters. From there he had 13-year-old Mark Barcellos win the Junior National championship in Illinois with a perfect score of 200. Mike is obviously proud of the young man.

This past year Mike has coached the Golden Valley High School FFA trapshooting team in Merced. That he expects to continue.

He explains that interest in the sport has declined somewhat, especially as costs of ammunition and travel have increased dramatically. But his achievements were earned in the days when competition was fierce.

EARTHQUAKE COUNTRY

When I migrated to the West coast from my native state in the Mid-west nearly 60 years ago, I had friends who questioned my sanity.

“Why on earth,” they emphatically stated almost in unison, “would anyone want to live in earthquake country?”

And I replied just as emphatically, “You can have your tornados, disastrous flooding, and crippling snowfalls.”

And I’ve never regretted my trade.

Yes, we have quakes in California. Some have been frightening. A few have been killers. And the threat of the unknown is always there. No one doubts that the Big One is coming. We sit and wait.

But I’ve visited my native state of Iowa in recent years and have witnessed the devastation of those weather outbursts that spread havoc on a somewhat regular basis.

Despite our recent shakes and promises of more to come, I still wouldn’t trade places with the land of my roots.

ACTIVE GROUP

The Barnstormers, a group affiliated with the Patterson Township Historical Society whose purpose is restoring and displaying antique farm equipment, recently held its second annual fund-raising dinner. And it was another big success.

The event took place at the Bettencourt John Deere Museum at River Road and Highway132. It’s there at over 30 pieces of restored old farm equipment are on display, a project started some 25 years ago by the late Frank Bettencourt.

Ken Herger heads The Barnstormers, a group readers will be hearing more about as the months roll by.

ONE DOWN

The record list of Democratic presidential candidates thankfully decreased by one this week. Twenty was far too many, and 19 is headed in the right direction.

About five candidates (or maybe less) is about right, and hopefully many others will see the light.

MOVING AHEAD

Work seems to be progressing – albeit slowly – on the new four-story Hampton Inn on Sperry Avenue. Workers were observed at the site early this week after construction seeming to have been halted for many weeks.

Also, did you know that Sperry Avenue, named after an early employee of the Patterson Ranch Co. that founded our town, runs true east and west And Ward Avenue, which crosses Sperry, runs true north and south. It was named after an early engineer from the Bay Area who laid out the town.

Remember where you read it.

INCOMING EMAILS

Emails keep arriving, sometimes in bunches. Here’s three of the latest:

A wise man once said nothing.

Respect your elders. They graduated without the Internet.

If my body is ever found on a hiking trail, just know I was murdered somewhere else and was dumped there.

FOR OUR PMs

Only our Persons of Maturity remember using fountain pens where the rubber bladder had to be filled with ink.

And remember those bottles of ink recessed into holes in the top corner of each student desk? If a girl sat in front of you, it was tempting to dip her pigtails into the bottle. (No, I never did. Honest.)

FOR THE SPORTS FAN

Many of us longtime sports fans don’t understand the finer points of the game of soccer. We know how to keep score, and that’s about all.

But I can safely say that the USA women’s team that won the World Cup Sunday is the best in the world. The Netherlands played well, but it was obvious the better team won.

AND FINALLY …

I need help.

A few years ago this column initiated a list of those local residents and former residents who were age 90 and over. The area included is from Vernalis to Crows Landing.

The full list is published at least four times a year, and this is where I need your assistance. A few present and former residents are missed, and I solicit your assistance in keeping me informed.

For instance, this newspaper last week published the obituary of Pattersonite Virginia Rose Pociengel who recently died at age 91. She was not on our list which numbers nearly 80.

So if you have a relative or neighbor or friend who has reached this age, send me an email (listed below) or give me a call. You will remain anonymous and if they are already on the list, O wo;; lmpew ot/

Ron Swift is editor/publisher emeritus of the Patterson Irrigator. He can be reached at ronkay@gvni.com.

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