Valley College has lost a former track star and dedicated member of its athletic department with the passing of Tim Knappen.
By Lonnie Dominguez, Staff Writer
Tim Knappen, staff member, and LAVC Athletic Hall of Fame inductee, best known for his impressive athletic accomplishments and daredevil antics, passed away this Saturday after a 15 year battle with Parkinson’s disease.
The former track star known as “Snake” to some, “Crazy Tim” to others, had been an inspiration for those around him both on and off the field for his can-do attitude, even in the face of adversity.
Knappen first grabbed attention in 1967 as a track and field star for Grant High School, winning in pole vault and high jump. Then in 1968 he came to Valley and joined its track and field team.
In 1970 he made local news by earning the record in decathlon, which still stands; and gaining numerous victories in track and field; all after a bout of pneumonia bronchitis the previous season.
His athletic abilities earned him a scholarship to Arizona State University, but an achilles injury ended his track career early but this would not keep him from breaking two Guinness Book of World Records in 1974.
Knappen returned to the San Fernando Valley and coached track at several high schools, including Grant and would eventually come back to Valley, which he considered his home, to help coach its track team.
But for as much as he was known for his accomplishments in track and field, Knappen was also known for his daring feats and oddball behavior. On around a dozen occasions, Knappen climbed the light tower above the LAVC football field press box and gave out a Tarzan yell while doing handstands. One time doing so in nothing more than a loin cloth; disrupting a Grant High School graduation ceremony.
In 2002, Knappen was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease which did not stop him from his weekly exercise routines and competing in amateur athletic events and in 2012 he was inducted into the LAVC Athletic Hall of Fame.
Knappen passed away at his home in Van Nuys. His funeral arrangements are pending at this time.