SBCC Vaqueros sports legend and journalist Dave Loveton dead at 62

City+College+Sports+Information+Specialist+Dave+Loveton+died+on+Wednesday%2C+April+28%2C+2021.+%E2%80%9CThis+was+incredibly+heartbreaking+news%2C%E2%80%9D+said+Athletic+Director+Rocco+Constantino.+Loveton+stands+in+the+center+of+La+Playa+Field+on+Friday%2C+Nov.+8%2C+at+City+College+in+Santa+Barbara%2C+Calif.

Nate Stephenson

City College Sports Information Specialist Dave Loveton died on Wednesday, April 28, 2021. “This was incredibly heartbreaking news,” said Athletic Director Rocco Constantino. Loveton stands in the center of La Playa Field on Friday, Nov. 8, 2019, at City College in Santa Barbara, Calif.

Eric Evelhoch, Staff Writer

Dave Loveton, first-ballot SBCC Vaqueros Hall of Fame sports information specialist and longtime Santa Barbara journalist, died Wednesday at the Serenity House following a spirited three-plus-year battle against stage-four kidney cancer. He was 62.

“This was incredibly heartbreaking news,” said Athletic Director Rocco Constantino. “He was so enthusiastic about any sport that he covered. He used his talents to help so many students and help promote everything they do.”

As tall in stature as Loveton stood, his impact on City College and the Santa Barbara community looms even larger.

In over 15 years as City College’s sports information specialist, Loveton covered all 20 Vaquero teams. Constantino noted that athletics needed five people to fill his role when he underwent surgery in 2018, “and we still couldn’t do the job Dave did.” 

He took a wide variety of responsibilities—writing stories for every game, maintaining up-to-date stats and rosters for every team on the athletics website he helped build, running Vaqueros social media, gameday media relations, and public address and DJing basketball and baseball games.

Football head coach Craig Moropolous said he marveled at Loveton’s energy and commitment.

“Everything Dave did on a day-to-day basis was phenomenal,” Moropolous said. “Everyone appreciated and respected him because he was dedicated to doing the best he could for every program.” 

City College Hall of Famer Dave Loveton watches the Vaqueros soccer game from the Press Box above La Playa Field on Friday, Nov. 8, 2019, at La Playa Stadium at City College in Santa Barbara, Calif.
City College Hall of Famer Dave Loveton watches the Vaqueros soccer game from the Press Box above La Playa Field on Friday, Nov. 8, 2019, at La Playa Stadium at City College in Santa Barbara, Calif. (Nate Stephenson)

Having played for his hometown Glendale College basketball team, Loveton had a special insight into being a community college athlete.

Providing recognition for every student athlete was his hallmark.

“Whether you were a starter or 12th off the bench, Dave made sure to highlight you during the season,” women’s basketball head coach Sandrine Krul said. “He wanted the one who dove on the loose ball, won the 50-50 ball, who gave the assist, and wanted to highlight them as well.”

Former Athletic Director Ryan Byrne, who was at City College from 2011-2016, recalled in the run-up to launching the women’s water polo program in 2014 that “from the first organizational meeting to the first game, Dave made it feel like it was a first class deal.”

“Dave treated us like gold,” women’s water polo head coach Chuckie Roth said. “He always put the time in to make you feel like you were important.”

Beyond his work covering the Vaqueros, Loveton was a yearly fixture at the California Community College Athletic Association state tennis championships in Ojai and Ventura. He worked several additional CCCAA state championship events as a statistician.

“Dave never let [his cancer diagnosis] slow him down in his commitment to showcasing SBCC athletics in the best light. He was also a great friend of the CCCAA,” said CCCAA Director of Communications Mike Robles.

A fierce dedication to accuracy and detail characterized Loveton’s work, drawn from his time as a journalist. Former Channels staffer and professional colleague Mike Traphagen said that “[Dave] would catch the extra space in the 13th graph on the 4th line.”

Before joining the City College staff, Loveton worked at the Santa Barbara News-Press for 24 years, covering the Vaqueros, Westmont College, and local golf beats. His role also afforded him the chance to cover the 1988 World Series, a Super Bowl, the NBA Finals, and multiple PGA events.

“He lived the dream of the sportswriter,” said Noozhawk Sports Editor Barry Punzal, who also worked alongside Loveton at the News-Press. “[Covering] not only the major championship events, but to cover the big local events that people cared about.”

Loveton was a finalist for the Brass Top Award in 2018, which is voted for by peers as the top community college sports information professional in the state. That year he was also presented with an Everyday Hero Award during the Vaqueros basketball ‘Coaches vs Cancer’ Game.

However, according to Punzal it was a career highlight and honor for Loveton to be the sole inductee in the 2021 class of the SBCC Vaqueros Hall of Fame. The announcement was all the more special because it came as a surprise during a video meeting with the athletic department.

As the press release was being written, baseball head coach Jeff Walker remembered receiving a call from Loveton—whom he referred to as “Mr. Vaquero.”—verifying a 2014 game where City College rallied from a 7-run deficit in the 9th to upend then no. 1 Oxnard College 10-9 in extra innings.

“Any successful department or team has people that are team-oriented and championship people. That’s what Dave was, a championship person,” Walker said.

Details on funeral services are pending and will be announced soon.