If there was anybody who played the game the way it was supposed to be played it was Kurt Fillmore. Over a prolific four-year career at The Master's College, the sparkplug ignited the offense from the top of the order, ran the bases with abandon, and played all-out in center field.
But just as important as his on-field exploits was his leadership role in a program that experienced a meteoric rise from laughingstock to national title contender during his time in the blue and gold. In reality, he developed into what a TMC student-athlete should be and one against whom all others will be measured for years to come.
Along with 20 teammates in the spring of 1997, it didn't take long for him to make an impact and lead the Mustangs out of the ashes to unprecedented heights and national recognition. Although he struggled at the plate during that initial season, he showed glimpses of a bright future with a high on-base percentage and a team-high 24 stolen bases as the Mustangs put the disarray of the previous year behind them with 22 wins.
A year later, the program took a quantum leap and Fillmore was at the apex of it, hitting at a .326 clip, drawing a school-record 47 walks, and pilfering another 33 bases. More importantly, he triggered a potent offense that produced a then school-record 34 wins and a venture into the NAIA Region II Playoffs for the first time in five years.
The Mustangs' climb to national prominence was just beginning and in 1999 the squad racked up a school-record 37 wins, finished in the Top 25 for the first time in the sport's history, qualified for the regional playoffs for the second year in a row, set or tied 31 team or individual marks, and produced a trio of All-Americans. Fillmore fueled this potent offense on the way to becoming the first Mustang in program history to be named an NAIA First-Team All-American after hitting .399 and setting single-season standards for runs scored, walks, stolen bases, and on-base percentage.
But that was all just grand preparation for what happened in the first season of the new millennium. With Fillmore leading the way again, the Mustangs equaled their one-year old record for wins, captured the NAIA Region II championship for the first time and earned a third-place finish in their first-ever trip to the NAIA World Series.
After his final at-bat in the blue and gold, Fillmore left his playing days behind with 12 school records, including career marks for runs scored (204) and stolen bases (139). Even more remarkable may have been his play in center field where he committed only three errors in four years, including none in his final two seasons.
Fillmore performed in the classroom, too, earning a bachelor's degree in Physical Education. Following graduation in May of 2000, he stayed on with the baseball program, becoming Monte Brooks' right hand man and a valuable teacher of the game for the next three years.
In June of 2002, Kurt married Becky McGuire and a year later he joined the Los Angeles Police Department. The couple reside in Santa Clarita and attend Grace Community Church.
Kim Gibson bridged the gap of two very different eras of women's volleyball at The Master's College. She played for the winningest coach in the history of the program and was part of three squads that struggled under a new mentor who was trying to extend the success of a revived sport.
Through it all, though, Gibson not only thrived but rose to prominence as one of the premier players in program annals. Utilizing her angular six-foot frame, she developed into a formidable force at the net, smothering opponent kill attempts and spiking with authority. Her on-court performance spoke for itself but her maturation into a leader was even more valuable.
Gibson' arrival as a highly-touted freshman in 1996 corresponded with the final year of the Dean Conk era and the most successful run in school history. Teaming with future Hall of Famer Wendy Penberthy (Jones), Gibson made an immediate impact, leading the squad in total attack percentage and block assists as the Mustangs went 31-11 and advanced to the NAIA Far West Region Playoffs.
A year later, Gibson and the Mustangs welcomed a new coach, Karen Peterson, and struggled through a 15-18 campaign. However, Gibson continued to excel as one of the top middle blockers in the Far West Region, improving in virtually every statistical category and leading the squad in games played, total attack percentage, and blocks. Her selection to the NAIA's All-Far West Region Independents First Team capped an outstanding season.
In 1998, Gibson paced a resurgence as the Mustangs made an appearance in the NAIA Top 25 for the first time in school history, returned to the program's winning ways with a 17-14 record, and realized their goal of qualifying for the Far West Region Playoffs. The junior middle blocker was right in the middle of all it, too, earning all-region, first-team honors for the second consecutive season after posting team-highs in games played, total attack percentage, and blocks.
The conclusion to Gibson's brilliant career in 1999 was bittersweet. The club's lone senior was vitally instrumental in a 20-13 season, the first 20-win season in three years. But, a loss on the regular season's final day kept the Mustangs out of the playoffs and Gibson from a coveted postseason run. Still, she was absolutely brilliant, leading the squad in multiple categories and becoming the first three-time, All-Far West Region choice in school history.
In a tribute to her enduring legacy, Gibson's name can still be found on nearly all of the sport's career lists, including at the top of total blocks (628) and No. 2 in total kills (1,144).
Following graduation in May of 2000, Gibson started to put her degree in liberal studies (teacher education) to good use, going to Legacy Private Academy where she began as an assistant teacher and worked for six years. In July of 2001, Kim married another outstanding Mustang athlete, Chris Kollmann (baseball), and they had their first child, Kinsley Ann, in June of 2006. Kim, who is pregnant with a boy, due to be born in May, says, "I am now a stay-at-home mom and love every minute of it."
The Kollmanns live in Santa Clarita and attend Grace Community Church.