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By Zach Cavanagh
United States national longboard champion Sheri Crummer and world masters water polo champion Bob Nealy have been selected as the 2019 inductees to the San Clemente Sports Wall of Fame.
The seventh annual induction ceremony will held at the San Clemente Aquatics Center at Vista Hermosa Sports Park on Saturday, May 18 at 6:30 p.m. Meet and greet with Crummer begins at 6 p.m. The event is free to the public and is expected to have a large turnout.
Crummer and Nealy, the 23rd and 24th inductees to the wall, were selected by the Friends of San Clemente Foundation in coordination with the San Clemente Sports Wall of Fame Committee.
Sheri Crummer is as San Clemente as San Clemente gets.
Crummer is a third-generation San Clementean, with her grandfather, Wendell Lovell, first bringing the family to the city in 1929 and serving as captain of the San Clemente police for 30 years. Her father, Marv Crummer, was the first captain of the lifeguard department in San Clemente.
Crummer got hooked on surfing on the waves of T-Street. She received her first surfboard after her mother traded in golf clubs for the board in 1962. Crummer first competed in a United States Surfing Association event in 1967 and reached the national semifinals in 1969.
Despite learning on a longboard, Crummer made her early in-roads in shortboard competitions in various associations and circuits through the 1970s and into the ’80s.
Crummer’s biggest story didn’t hit until her conversion back to longboard into the ’90s.
In 1999, Crummer was eyeing a national title and the opportunity for a world title when she was involved in a car accident. A doctor told her then that her competitive days were done, but Crummer battled through two years of physical therapy to return to the water.
In 2002, Crummer won her first of three consecutive U.S. national longboard championships in the women’s 18-and-over division.
Crummer today is a professional action sports photographer with an emphasis on surfing. She also co-founded a nonprofit called The Inspire Initiative, which looks to empower women and girls in board sports in a non-competitive environment. Crummer continues to judge surfing contests, is on the board of directors for the Western Surfing Association and builds websites.
Bob Nealy, who will be honored posthumously, chose San Clemente as his home and continued to excel in water polo on an international level into his later years. Nealy died in 2016.
Nealy grew up in Newport Beach and competed in water polo and swimming for Newport Harbor, Orange Coast College and UC Irvine. Nealy was a member of the first-ever water polo team for the Anteaters in 1964. Nealy collected numerous honors over that period, including being named an All-American at every level.
In his youth, Nealy surfed up and down the Orange County coastline, including Cotton’s and Trestles in San Clemente. Nealy eventually came to San Clemente to begin his teaching career at San Clemente High School in 1970 and has stayed in town ever since.
After to San Clemente, Nealy’s water polo success came internationally in the masters division.
As a member of the United States team, Nealy won the 45+ World Masters title in 1998, won the 55+ World Masters in 2006 and the 60+ World Masters in 2008. Nealy collected runner-ups for the 50+ World Masters in 2000 and 2004. In 2011, Nealy was named the USA Water Polo Bryan Weaver Male Master of the Year.
Nealy was also the frosh-soph and junior varsity boys and girls water polo coach at SCHS from 1998-2003.
Nealy also contributed to the surf community in San Clemente as a founder of Surf More Products, Inc., also known as Surf More XM. The business started by making a surf leash out of Velcro from an Air Force life preserver in Nealy’s garage, from his four-year tenure with Air Force Pararescue. Since then, Surf More has made many other innovations, inventions and patents in the surfing and body boarding industry.
Editor’s note: An earlier version of the story characterized Nealy as attending the ceremony and alive. Nealy died in 2016. The story has been updated.