This spring, Point Loma has mourned the passing of two PLNU legends, Lloyd Higgins (69) and Chalmer “Champ” Cartwright (48). Both Higgins and Cartwright were inducted into the very first PLNU Athletics Hall of Fame class in 1982 and their impact on the Pasadena College/Point Loma community transcended their lengthy athletic achievements.
Lloyd Higgins (Oct. 31, 1941 – Feb. 20, 2023)
Higgins has an argument to be the best athlete in the history of PC and PLNU athletics after dominating in both basketball and track & field. He is a member of both the PLNU and the NAIA Halls of Fame.
On the basketball court, the 6-foot-7 Higgins was known for his pinpoint passes, high-arching jump shots, and effortless dunks while leading his teams to the NAIA District playoffs in each of his three seasons after transferring from Los Angeles Valley College. During his sophomore year, Higgins earned MVP honors after the Crusaders won the inaugural Pasadena College Invitational Tournament. Then as a senior, he received First Team All-American recognition after PC won the district title to make its fourth-ever appearance in the national tournament. The two-time NAIA All-American in basketball was the starting point guard of the NAIA All-Star Team that won the eight-team Olympic Trials in 1968, from which the U.S. Olympic team was selected. He ranks fifth in program history in career points and is in the top-15 in career rebounds despite playing just three seasons at Pasadena College.
In track, Higgins competed in six different events, including the high jump, long jump, triple jump, javelin, shot put, and discus. He was most known for his performance in the high jump, in which he was a three-time NAIA All-American. In 1968, he became the first Crusader to earn All-American honors in two different sports in the same year.
Higgins was then drafted by the NBA’s Chicago Bulls and the Los Angeles Stars of the ABA before playing three years professionally in the Philippines. After his athletic career, he went on to coach track & field for nearly 45 years at Citrus College and Cerritos College.
“I have enjoyed watching most of the great athletes at PC/PLNU, of which there are many, but Lloyd stands out as the best,” said Ben Foster (68), a basketball teammate of Higgins. “He was not only a great athlete, but he played two different sports and performed at a national and professional level while being a national champion and a five-time All-American.”
Lloyd is survived by his wife, Kerry; daughter, Dany Richie; son-inlaw, Mike Richie; and granddaughters, Brett Richie and Kylie Richie.
Chalmer “Champ” Cartwright (Dec. 23, 1923 – March 11, 2023)
Cartwright was a mainstay in Pasadena College athletics for nearly two-and-a-half decades, serving in a variety of roles.
After his time as a student-athlete, he went on to become a coach, athletic director and chair of the physical education department.
As a member of the men’s basketball team, Cartwright led the Crusaders in scoring each of his four seasons, utilizing a combination of crafty offensive moves as the team’s best player.
He was on the very first basketball team in school history in 1946 after returning from being drafted into the army.
Not limited to just basketball, Cartwright also led Pasadena’s football program to consecutive winning seasons and participated on the track & field and softball teams.
Then in 20 years as a teacher and coach at PC, he coached men’s basketball, baseball, football, golf, track & field, and tennis. In 1958, he became the school’s athletic director.
One of the winningest coaches in men’s basketball program history, Cartwright compiled a 231-126 record in 13 years as head coach, during which he led his teams to three NAIA District II titles.
Before becoming head coach, he was an assistant coach of the famous “Firehouse Five.”
Foster, who was coached by Cartwright in the 1960’s, said many people have called Cartwright the first great athlete at Pasadena College.
“I believe that Champ Cartwright can be considered the ‘Father of Athletics, Basketball, and Physical Education at PC/PLNU,’” Foster said. “What a wonderful legacy he has left behind for all of us.”
Champ leaves behind many fond memories for wife Virginia, son Gary, daughters Gay, Lorie and Karen, and their spouses, 10 grandchildren, and eight great-grandchildren.
Special thank you to Ben Foster for providing historical information for this story.