The Lassen Community College Athletic Department honored Sophia Wages with a “Hero Award” Saturday, Feb. 5 at the Bob Genasci Sports Complex — a community service award that recognizes individuals who make an important contribution to our community created by LCC Athletic Director Glen Yonan.
The award is inscribed: “A hero is someone who has given his or her life to something bigger than oneself.”
“Through sports at an early age, the community supported me and many young athletes in our successes,” Wages said. “Being raised in Susanville, I had a wonderful childhood, and I love this community. It was only natural that as an adult I wanted to see our youth receive the opportunities in education, sports and I’m happy the many Lassen County community organizations that supported me as well as others, continue to believe as I do. I am humbled by this award.”
Born in Susanville in 1952, Wages said she spent much of her younger years outdoors — “everything to keep from being on time for dinner or perhaps doing chores,” she quipped.
She said she inherited her athletic abilities from her father, Lawrence Koziol, who was the Most Valuable Player in the Midwestern Basketball Conference in 1937. He was elected to the Hall of Fame for Basketball for the Deaf in 1968.
Legendary Susanville coach Jim Lytjen recruited local boys and girls to compete in track and field events in Redding during the summer, and Wages answered the call. As a sixth-grader she competed in the 75-yard dash, the 100-yard dash, the long jump and the 4×100 relay.
She continued to compete at Lassen High School (flag football, basketball, softball, all GAA sports and track and cross country events) and even qualified for the Junior Olympics where she threw a softball 180 feet, good enough for second place. The event’s winner, Lauren Pickell, of Orinda, California went on to compete in the Olympics throwing the javelin. And she said she’s pretty sure her LHS girls 4×100 relay team’s record remains unbroken today after about 50 years.
LHS Coach Bob Wall took on the girls track team (dubbed the Lassen Cinderellas), and during her four years on the team it went mostly undefeated and even qualified for the National Track Championships.
But she was involved in more than sports. At LHS she served as a class and club officer and was an honor student and a member of CFS. She was on the drill team, played alto sax in the band and pep band, and in her senior year she became a cheerleader.
Wages’ history of community involvement is most impressive. She recently retired from the Lassen County Office of Education after 43 years, and she taught graphic arts at Credence High School. Over the years she’s been involved with PTA: coached Mini Socks Softball; was an advisor for the Junior Fire Explorers; served as the Lassen County Red Cross Coordinator; was a member of Kiwanis and Soroptimists; served as a juror and as the foreman of them Lassen County Grand Jury; she is life member of the California School Employees Association, an Lassen High Alumni Association member, and currently serves as the captain of the Diamond Mountain Women’s Golf Club (where she’s hit two holes in one!).
For many years she volunteered to run the shot clock at LCC basketball games, which she called “a very stressful responsibility.”
In 2002 she was elected to the LCC board (she currently serves as president), she is the vice president of the LCC Foundation and she serves on the Committee for Scholarships and Grants that has awarded more than $1 million to students. For more than 15 years she has been the president of the board at the Lassen Federal Credit Union.
And, as you might imagine, she’s a huge supporter of LCC.
Wages said she is proud she and her entire family — husband Jim and daughters Stacy Bauer and Jamie Curran are all LCC Alumni who continued their educations and graduated from CSU Chico. She also has triplet grandsons, 8, who are already participating actively in soccer and baseball in Scottsdale, Arizona.
“If you want an education, make the first step. Come to Lassen, get your associate degree and we will help you get your bachelors degree,” she said. “You will be surprised at the new educational paths we are making available for students. It is awesome! Keep your eyes and ears peeled. We are here to help you succeed with an outstanding faculty and staff!”
Wages said she continues to stay active golfing, and she loves doing yard work.