The Southern California Striders (also SoCal Striders or SC Striders) is a track and field athletics club based in Los Angeles, California. From its foundation in 1955 through the 1980s it was an elite club producing numerous national and Olympic champions. For a time in the 1970s it was called the Tobias Striders for sponsorship reasons. From the 1990s to 2006 the club was restricted to masters athletics and still produces national champions in older age classes. After 2006 it became a nonprofit open to all ages.
The club was formed originally in the fall of 1955 by five elite athletes; Olympic multiple Gold Medalists Mal Whitfield, George Rhoden, silver medalist Meredith C."Flash" Gourdine, NCAA Champions Lang Stanley, and George Brown. In its day it laid claim to being "largest and strongest multiracial track-and-field club in the history of the sport." They were also called a collection "America’s finest Olympic Track and Field Stars."
Between 1957 and 1965 the team won 8 AAU National Team Championships by attracting a who's who of elite track athletes of the day. Among the people to wear the Striders uniform were: Rafer Johnson, Ralph Boston, Bill Toomey, Mike Larrabee, Bob Seagren John Rambo, John Smith, Fortune Gordien, Ronnie Ray Smith, Larry Stewart, Marshall Clark, Otis Burrell, Charles Dumas, Ed Caruthers, Bob Avant, Leon Coleman, Don Quarrie, Adolph Plummer, Chuck Smith, Ulis Williams, Rex Cawley, Wayne Collett, Ralph Mann, Ron Whitney, Geoff Vanderstock, Jim Cerveny, Jim Dupree, Jerome Walters, Bob Seaman, Paul Wilson, Ron Morris, Dick Railsback, John Pennel, Dave Volz, Art Walker, Parry O'Brien, Dallas Long, Peter Shmock Rink Babka, Ben Plucknett, Ed Burke, Hal Connolly Larry Young, Mike Manley and Max Truex. All (listed) were USA National Champions, most were also Olympians across the full range of disciplines in the sport. The last of these National Champions appears to be Ben Plucknett, winning his championship in 1981. Plucknett set the still standing United States record in the Discus while wearing the Southern California Striders uniform.
At the 1978 Sun Devil Relays, USC Trojans set a 4 × 200 m world record (1m 20.26s) despite losing to the Tobias Striders: the Striders' mark (1m 20.23s) was ineligible as a record because the team was of mixed nationality: Guy Abrahams (Panama), Michael Simmons (USA), Don Quarrie (Jamaica), and James Gilkes (Guyana). By 1980 Tobias Striders had absorbed Angel's Flight Striders and resumed the name SoCal Striders.
With the egalitarian attitude professed at its inception, the team catered almost exclusively to male athletes. This is because in the era of their successes, prior to Title IX, women athletes were not common and usually segregated.
The President of the Striders during the 60's was Dr. Jerry Bornstein, who put together a team of fellow doctors to provide medical care, and sometimes airline tickets, for the athletes out of their own pockets. Doctors Whitmore, Silver, Mels and Barnes and trainer Paul Schecter were part of this team. Now retired, Dr. Bornstein continues to be involved in sports medicine leading the team of athletic trainers at LAUSD sporting events.
Just as the team had the finest talent, it also attracted the finest coaches. Several people have laid claim to coaching the team. Charlie Coker joined in 1962. Joe Mangan also coached for the team. Later John Bork became the Coach and Athletic Director Other coaches and managers included Pete Petersons, Hank Erlich, Carl Ito, and Whitey Taylor.
The club continues today, primarily in Masters track and field, though some elite athletes continue to represent the team. The club now has a sizable female membership and the club's president for the better part of a decade was female Masters World Champion Brenda Matthews.
The club hosts an annual meet, the Southern California Striders Meet of Champions.Mal Whitfield 5 Olympic Medals, 3 Gold
Parry O'Brien 3 Olympic Medals, 2 Gold
George Rhoden Jamaica 2 Gold Medals
Mike Larrabee 2 Gold Medals
Don Quarrie Jamaica 4 Olympic Medals, 1 Gold
Ralph Boston 3 Olympic Medals, 1 Gold
Rafer Johnson 2 Olympic Medals, 1 Gold
Bob Seagren 2 Olympic Medals, 1 Gold
Dallas Long 2 Olympic Medals, 1 Gold
Rex Cawley 1 Olympic Gold Medal
Hal Connolly 1 Olympic Gold Medal
Charles Dumas 1 Olympic Gold Medal
Bill Toomey 1 Olympic Gold Medal
Ulis Williams 1 Olympic Gold Medal
Ronnie Ray Smith 1 Olympic Gold Medal
Fortune Gordien 2 Olympic Medals
Larry Young 2 Olympic Medals
Rink Babka 1 Olympic Medal
Ed Caruthers 1 Olympic Medal
Wayne Collett 1 Olympic Medal
Meredith "Flash" Gourdine 1 Olympic Medal
Ralph Mann 1 Olympic Medal
Ron Morris 1 Olympic Medal
John Rambo 1 Olympic Medal
Dick Van Kirk-Vice President, Technology, 1984 Summer Olympics