“Push Yourself! Push Yourself!” – In Memory of Coach Bruce Bernhardi and Coach Verl T. Lillywhite, Honorary Roadrunners of The Year in 2023

2023 Roadrunners of the Year

Having shown qualities of high moral character, such as courage, generosity, civic engagement or honor,

I am proud to announce this year’s inductees in the Roadrunner Hall of Fame as a posthumous honor.

In memory of Verl T. Lillywhite and Bruce Bernhardi, who were both long time residents of the Indian Wells Valley and coaches of the Greatest Football Teams in the history of Burroughs High School (The Mighty Burros of 1973 and 1974!)


The passing of former Burroughs High School football coach Bruce Bernhardi on July 30, 2022 was a sad day for many in our town. For myself, I had just received word that a close friend of mine had also passed away a few days prior to the news that Coach Bernhardi had died.

I played high school football for two coaches who personified the American spirit of competition with integrity and good sportsmanship. They also knew that sometimes respect only comes from a hard and swift kick in the ass.

Push yourself! Push yourself!!

Bruce Auld wrote a wonderful obituary for Coach Bernhardi in the News Review (below)

“Equally important to great coaches is providing their athletes with the skills and character to help them succeed when their playing days are finished.”

Bruce Auld, The News Review

I had the chance to visit with Bruce in the year before he passed when he was enjoying a beautiful day in Kernville along with his beloved wife Cheryl. I thanked him for a lesson he taught me that I would draw from throughout my life.

Together with Verl T. Lillywhite, also a former coach and athletic director at Burroughs High School, the two built a legacy of honor and integrity with a lesson that will help the young Burros of today as they navigate through the ups and downs of life after high school.

Coach Lillywhite began his teaching career at Burroughs High School in Ridgecrest, CA in 1970. He served as a teacher, coach and athletic director for the school until his retirement in 1991. Prior to becoming an educator and coach, he graduated from USC and played four years with the San Francisco 49ers. Verl Thomas (V.T.) Lillywhite passed away July 14, 2007 in Mesa, AZ. Verl was born in Garland, Utah on December 5, 1926.

If there was anyone who knew how to kick ass it was Coach Verl T. Lillywhite. Together with the stare of Coach Bruce Bernhardi glaring at you with his piercing eyes and relatively calm demeanor, the kick-in-the-ass plus the deadly stare was more than most young athletes can comprehend today.

The legacy of Coach Bernhardi was personified in the stories told at his memorial service, with tear-filled old-timers reminiscing about his leadership qualities and the inspiration he gave to his formerly young football players.

I have always been impressed that Burroughs athletes that were toddlers when Bruce hung up his whistle were in awe of Bruce’s legacy and now, I observe a third generation of athletes equally in awe of Bruce’s legacy.

Bruce Auld, The News Review

Yes, they had a few tricks up their sleeves, and a favorite for the ’74 Burros was sending running back Amos Blanche right through the center of the line over a pile of mangled bodies, one of which was mine.

Coach Bernhardi is the primary reason I spent my career as a coach.  As a player, I admired how he and his staff was able to bring out the very best in us, stuff we didn’t know we had in us, Just do the best you can and play you’re A$$ OFF, He taught us to be tough, and that mentality stayed with us throughout our later years, and still to this day I reflect on how BHS was always ‘Toughest Team’

Mark Gritton BHS 1979 via The News Review

I could hear Coach Bernhard yelling at me on numerous occassions throughout my life, especially when seemingly endless, enduring pain became debilitating. Push yourself I could hear him yell!

Push yourself! Push yourself!! – The Classes of 1973 and 1974

I’ll take a moment give my recollection of the 1973-74 classes of Burros football and will stand corrected if someone informs me otherwise:

Together with the class of 1973, the Burroughs Burros ran up a win-loss record of 17-2, the only two losses were to the Antelope Valley Antelopes. We started off the 1973 season with wins over the Bakersfield Drillers and the Santa Maria Saints, lost the league opener to the Antelopes, and didn’t lose another game until the last game of the 1974 season with another loss to the Antelopes. That’s what I remember, though my memory isn’t the greatest at 67.

I lost track of the Burros after ’75, so I’m sure there will be some disagreement, but it must be said. The 1973 and 1974 classes of Burros were absolutely the all-time TOP 2 teams ever in the recorded history of BHS football. And it was all due to our coaches at Burroughs. We had the best thanks to Coach Bernhardi and Coach Lillywhite.

There you have it. It is written.

Let it be said.

P.S. I’d have to dig out the yearbook to prove or disprove this and am willing to publicly defend the “Top Two Classes” regardless of the facts including win-loss records. So there. Only the coaches know for sure, and I will freely admit that I am wrong when they tell me I was wrong.

One of the things they taught us that has been lost in our hyper-competitive professional sports and the trans-rainbow invasion into women’s sports is the word sportsmanship. Thanks to all of our coaches for teaching us the meaning of true sportsmanship.

We will miss Coach Bernhardi and Coach Lillywhite.

Mike Sinnott, publisher@roadrunner395.com

Class of 1974. All Golden League (Center) and recipient of the Coaches Award on behalf of the 1974 Burroughs Burros.

sportsmanship spôrts′mən-shĭp″ noun

  1. The conduct and attitude of participants in sports, especially when considered commendable as in fair play, courtesy, and grace in losing.
  2. The practice or art of sportsmen; skill in field-sports.
  3. The practice of sportsmen; skill in field sports.

The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition. More at Wordnik

Push yourself! Push yourself!!

Welcome to The Indian Wells Valley and The Roadrunner Capital of the World! Mike Sinnott, Publisher

Dave Matthews May 20, 1931 — June 17, 2021

Dave Matthews gives Public Comments at the City of Ridgecrest

“Every time I got a flu shot I got the flu”

Dave Matthews final public comment was made to the City of Ridgecrest on June 2nd, 2021. Perhaps Dave knew these comments would be the last time for him to share his wisdom to the town and country he loved.

He was always willing to stand up publicly to the City Council while living up to the principles and ideals of engaged citizenship. Having lived to the grand old age of 90, he had the perspective and insight that comes over many years of life’s challenges. He was a fighter and always to be respected, with a memory that never failed him.

“Who is the czar of yours that determines what is essential and what is not?”

His knew his remaining time on Earth was short, and somehow he was able to make it through the Covid pandemic, even writing a “letter to the editor” during the pandemic complaining that he “needed a haircut” as well as many other treatments for multiple medical issues.

He never took vaccine and had no intention of taking an experimental mRNA gene therapy. What a wise man he was!

“I greatly appreciate everything that the employees of the City do, and I’m not sure how many other people really appreciate what the City government employees do for this City.”

In his final council meeting, he came to thank the employees of the City of Ridgecrest for everything they do. Dave relied on the City as a service and truly appreciated the people working there.

Dave might have been a little cantankerous in his old age, that’s to be expected from someone who watched the cost of living increase to the point that he felt poorer and poorer with each increase in the basics, like water, sewer, trash collection and everything else we rely on, including a haircut.


Below you’ll find the now infamous Letter to Governor Newsom titled “I need a Haircut!”, and you’ll also find videos of his last few meetings at the City Council in the months preceeding his death. He will be greatly missed by the City of Ridgecrest and all who knew him and watched him stand up to City Hall.

Rest in Peace Mr. Matthews.

Gary Lee Maxwell August 12, 1941 — July 1, 2021

Gary Maxwell Memorial

We all remember having teachers such as Mr. Maxwell. How do we describe the distant memories from Junior High School? By remembering our teachers. Gary Maxwell was a great teacher among greats such as Gladys Merrick and good old Mr. Dixon. Those were the days at Monroe Junior High.

The following is from his Obituary, and I couldn’t think of a better way to describe Mr.Maxwell, one of my teachers at Monroe. I feel blessed to have learned from him.

If you knew Gary, you knew his devotion to his family, his passion to invest in the lives of everyone around him, and his welcoming smile.  His calling was to minister knowledge, confidence, and wisdom, mixed with humor, to his thousands of students during their most formative years.  He excelled at his calling and felt blessed to have each individual student.  His legacy will live on through his family and through the lives he impacted here on earth.  

Gary Lee Maxwell Obituary, Daily Independent

Gary Maxwell was much more than a math teacher. He was the very meaning of a role model.

In 1969, Gary returned to Ridgecrest after receiving his degree and began teaching math and science at James Monroe Junior High School for 16 years. In 1985, he moved to teach all levels of math at Burroughs High School for 19 years.

His students in both schools competed in high-level Mathletes competitions all over California and often took home top honors.  He then retired in 2004 after 35 blissful years of teaching.  When retired, he founded a math-curriculum-consulting business called Maxmatics; he loved the name and the job. 

Gary Lee Maxwell Obituary, Daily Independent

Rest in Peace Mr. Maxwell.

Dave Matthew’s public comments at the Ridgecrest City Council meetings, June 2nd, 2021 and April 21, 2021

True to form, Dave was a real patriot, and he was always consistent and civic-minded when making his views known. The pain he felt in his wallet was your pain too, and he was looking out for you up until the age of 90.

We’ll bet he’s still making his views known, on YouTube and from Heaven above.

Dave Matthews would like a bit more money too (24;00)

Unfortunately, I’m aware that many of you would like to have a little bit more money, but then I’ve been retired for about 25 to 30 years, I’d like to have a little more too. But I don’t see it becoming any better very soon unless we as a citizenry stand up and put our foot down about certain policies within the State and in the Federal government.

Dave Matthews, June 2, 2021

I just wanted to say to all the service employees that we are just recognizing or will recognize in the future that as a citizen I greatly appreciate everything that the employees of the City do, and I’m not sure how many other people really appreciate what the City government employees do for this City.

Dave Matthews, June 2, 2021
Dave Matthews quotes Samuel Adams (14:28)

Dave quotes Samuel Adams: “Neither the wisest laws nor the wisest Constitution will secure the Liberty of a people that are universally corrupt”

Dave Matthews, April 21, 2021

If you have your eyes open and your ears open, you can see all kinds of corruption in this country right now, all over the place, hopefully not too much here, but in our own State Capitol right here in California.

Dave Matthews, April 21, 2021

2022: Dave Matthews, City of Ridgecrest (Dave’s place)

Hello from “The Roadrunner Capital of the World”

2022: Gary Maxwell, Sierra Sands Unified School District (Gary’s place)

The Greater Roadrunner is Noble

2020: Sgt. Bill Groves and Officer Kyle Cushman*, Ridgecrest Police Department

Officer Kyle Cushman named Officer of the Year for 2022 at the Ridgecrest Police Department!

Ridgecrest Police Officer Kyle Cushman was named Officer of the Year during the annual John Ward Respect for Law Recognition Dinner held March 25.

Officer Cushman was one of four lawmen to be recognized during the prestigious event.

Congratulations to Officer Kushman and to Sgt. Bill Groves, 2022 Roadrunners of the Year and members of the Roadrunner’s Hall of Fame!

“The Sands of Time”, Death Valley National Park

“The Sands of Time”, Death Valley National Park. Photo by Bill Pelletier for Roadrunner395.com. Copyright 2020-2022.