Thousands of student-athletes have represented Cal over the decades. Here’s a list of some of the best to ever rep the blue and gold:
In 1992, Jason Kidd opted to stay close to his home in Alameda and play college basketball for Cal. During his time on campus, Kidd brought the Bears back to national prominence, winning Pac-10 Freshman of the Year in 1993 and being named a first-team All-American as a sophomore before heading to the NBA after his second season.
Kidd found great success as a professional, earning 10 All-Star appearances and winning a championship during his 19-year career. After his playing days, Kidd served as the head coach for the Brooklyn Nets before his time with the Milwaukee Bucks.
In 1958, Jackie Jensen hit 35 home runs and led the MLB with 122 RBI en route to winning the American League MVP with the Boston Red Sox. Before his time as a professional baseball player, Jensen was a two-sport athlete at Cal, pairing his baseball ability with his skills on the gridiron.
In 1947, Jensen was an instrumental piece to Cal’s championship-winning baseball team. Just a year later, he became for the first Bear to rush for 1000 yards in a single season as a halfback. Jensen’s name currently resides in the College Football Hall of Fame as well as the Boston Red Sox Hall of Fame.
Coming off of an impressive performance at the 2012 Summer Olympics in which she took the gold medal in four events, Missy Franklin joined the Cal women’s swimming team and became a Bear. From 2013-15, Franklin won multiple NCAA individual national championships.
After the 2015 season, Franklin opted to turn professional, and, the following year, she won her fifth Olympic gold medal as part of the women’s 4×200-meter freestyle relay team. In both 2011 and 2012, Franklin was also named the women’s FINA Swimmer of the Year.
After spending much of her childhood growing up in Southern California, Alex Morgan chose to head north in 2007 and become a member of the Cal women’s soccer team. Despite missing a significant amount of time playing for the Bears because of her U.S. national team commitments, Morgan finished off her collegiate career ranked third of all time in Cal history in terms of goals scored.
Morgan has found significant success professionally, having won an Olympic gold medal at the 2012 games and a World Cup title in 2015. Morgan was a star on both teams and was even named the U.S. Soccer Female Athlete of the Year in 2012.
Matt Biondi grew up close to Cal’s campus in Moraga, California, attending Campolindo High School before arriving on campus in 1983. As a Bear, Biondi not only swam, but played water polo as well, winning three national championships with the team. In 1984, in his first Olympics, Biondi was part of the gold medal-winning 4×100-meter men’s freestyle team before he returned to campus and was named the NCAA Swimmer of the Year in 1985, 1986 and 1987.
Biondi won seven total medals at the 1988 Olympics in Calgary, five of which were gold. Before retiring after the 1992 Olympics, Biondi added three more Olympic medals to finish out his career.
Before Aaron Rodgers led the Green Bay Packers to a championship in Super Bowl 45, he was the quarterback for the Bears from 2003-04. While sporting the blue and gold, Rodgers passed for more than 5,000 yards and even led Cal to a top-five ranking in 2004.
His success didn’t end there however, as Rodgers would go on to establish himself as one of the top quarterbacks in the NFL. Rodgers is a two-time NFL MVP and was also named the AP Athlete of the Year in 2011.
By the time Helen Wills graduated from Berkeley in 1925, she already had already two Olympic gold medals to her name. Wills held the No. 1 ranking in women’s tennis nine times throughout her career, during which she won 31 Grand Slam titles. She was also named the AP Female Athlete of the Year in 1935. Her legacy at Cal lives on thanks to the Helen Wills Neuroscience Institute, which opened in 1999.
During his time at Cal, Tony Gonzalez was a two-sport athlete, playing both football and basketball. As a tight end for the Bears, he was an All-American selection in 1996 before entering his name for the NFL draft. Gonzalez played for the Kansas City Chiefs up until being traded to the Atlanta Falcons in 2009, and he retired from his long NFL career following the 2013 season.
He would finish his career as a 14-time Pro-Bowler while also holding numerous NFL records, including most career receiving yards by a tight end. It was recently announced that Gonzalez will be named to the Kansas City Chiefs Hall of Fame during the 2018 season, and he is also likely to be named to the Pro Football Hall of Fame in the near future.
Kellan Grant covers women’s gymnastics. Contact him at [email protected]