Hornet Hall of Fame multi-sport coach Oran Breeland passed away this week leaving behind an incredible legacy.
Born in Los Angeles in 1928, Oran Breeland grew up on the tough side of the track literally next to the old Red Line in South Central Los Angeles. With his father leaving the family during the heart of the depression, Oran and his little brother did whatever they could to make an honest dime from delivering newspapers to collecting old newspapers. They would also collect the tin foil from old cigarette wrappers and turn it in for scrap.
As the war effort geared up fewer and fewer able bodied men were around. This gave the strong younger men the opportunity to make money mowing lawns and doing other types of manual labor around the neighborhood.
As Oran went on to attend Fremont High School, he did not have the time to play sports as he was working full time. In fact, he did not take up sports until the fall of 1946, his freshman year in college, when he joined L.A. City College football team. Oran had to work had to earn a starting position from the returning war heroes.
Taking a break from school, Oran continued to work until the spring of 1949 when he walked on the track & field team as a shot putter for L.A. City College. He came in as the low man on the depth chart with no experience behind two championship high school shot putters he was not given any coaching and trained himself into the junior collage national shot put champion finishing ahead of the next Olympic champion Javelin thrower.
UCLA's Ducky Drake told Oran he could get him a full ride scholarship to UCLA if he could get the grades. The spring of 1950 found him practicing shot put at UCLA when he received a call from head football coach Red Sanders. He was scolded for missing the first day of spring football practice. As Oran tried to explain, that he was on scholarship for track and field, Coach Sanders let Oran know that there were no track and field scholarships and only football scholarships for football players, who were also track and field men, and that he had better be at practice the next day. Oran soon became a starter on the Bruin football team for the next two years.
Graduating from UCLA in 1952, Oran worked for a couple of years as a graduate student for the Bruins. He was eventually hired to coach football at Fullerton Junior College where he served as the o-line coach, and assistant head coach. In 1958, be became the 16th lead coach of the Hornet football program. Oran also coached tennis and was named the City College Coach of the Year with his men's doubles team winning the State championship beating an eventual Davis cup doubles team in the process.
Oran Coached two years of track and field at Fullerton with the eventual UCLA head coach Jim Bush (another FC Hall of Famer).
In 1960, Oran started a wrestling program at Fullerton without having any formal wrestling experience or training. Oran also helped form the beginning of the Southern California Wrestling Coaches and Officials association. He with the other charter members would travel back to the National Wrestling Championships each year and invite top officials the coaches of the top teams if not the championship team to put on officiating and coaches clinics to help raise the overall level of wrestling in Southern California. Within two years state champions were wrestling at Fullerton College and national and world championship level wrestlers were coming out of the Southern California Junior college-wrestling circle. When the Title Nine financial pinch hit the Fullerton and Cypress colleges athletic programs, Cypress lost its football program and Fullerton lost its wrestling program.
Breeland continued on at Fullerton coaching tennis until he retired in 1984. He was inducted into the Fullerton College Athletic Hall of Fame in 2012.
Coach Breeland's memorial celebration will be held on Sunday, April 6, 2019 at 1:00 pm. Click here for more details.