July 25, 2008

Lindeblad, Sargent and Coaches Join Hall of Fame

July 25, 2008

 

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Four individuals, including two former student-athletes who went on to professional careers in their respective sports, will comprise the ninth class of inductees into the Eastern Washington University Athletics Hall of Fame in ceremonies that will take place on Sept. 27, 2008, in Cheney, Wash.

The new inductees include former Eastern All-America football player and National Football League offensive tackle Kevin Sargent and the current head professional at Indian Canyon Golf Course in Spokane, Wash., Gary Lindeblad. Lindeblad competed at the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) Championships all four years he was at Eastern.

The other two inductees were gymnastics coaches at Eastern, including men's coach Jack Benson and women's coach Maxine Davis. Benson also competed in gymnastics for Eastern, and in 1962 competed in the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Championships

No teams will be inducted in this class, however, the "100 for 100" All-Time Football Team will be honored on Sept. 27. That team was announced in June to commemorate the upcoming 100th season of football at Eastern.

Public voting on the top player at each position continues at least through August, with results announced on Sept. 27. Information may be found at: http://WWW.GOEAGS.COM.

Established in 1996, this year's inductees will bring the total number of individuals in the Hall of Fame to 45. Five teams have also been inducted. More information on the Hall of Fame may be found at: http://goeags.cstv.com/hallfame.

The inductees and "100 for 100" team will be honored with a breakfast and ceremony that starts at 9 a.m. on Sept. 27 at the Pence Union Building. The public is invited to attend (RSVP to 509-359-2463 or 1-800-648-7697) and the cost is $15 per person.

They will also be honored at EWU's football game against Idaho State that begins at 12:37 p.m. and is regionally-televised on Altitude Sports and Entertainment. Hall of Fame recipients will also be recognized at Eastern's volleyball match that evening against Montana.

Below are biographies on each of the four inductees:

 

Jack Benson (Athlete & Coach/Gymnastics & Contributor)

Jack BensonA former student-athlete, long-time gymnastics coach and faculty member at Eastern, Benson led one of the premier teams in NAIA for 13 seasons from 1966-1970 (five seasons) and 1973-1980 (eight seasons). Nine times Eastern placed in the top 10 at the NAIA Championships under Benson, including third in 1968, fourth in 1967, fifth in 1977 and 1978 and sixth in 1969 when Eastern had its fourth-straight top 10 national finish under Benson. His 1967 squad finished 7-1, with the lone loss coming to the University of Washington. The team lost only once in 1968, again to the UW. Benson coached three individual NAIA champions, and his athletes won a collective total of 13 All-America honors. He served on several NAIA gymnastics committees, including two terms as the president and several years on the rules committee. He also was the gymnastics representative on the NAIA Coaches Board of Directors. Benson graduated from Eastern in 1965 where he competed in gymnastics, and in 1962 he competed in the NCAA Championships in the horizontal bar and rope climb. As a result, he was selected as Eastern's Male Athlete of the Year. He went on to serve as an assistant coach at Washington State University, where he received his master's degree. In the 1971-72 school year, Benson worked on his doctorate degree at Oregon State University. He coached two seasons at Renton, Wash., High School, leading the school to a pair of third-place finishes at the state championships. He is a retired member of the Eastern physical education and health department and still volunteers as a timer at Eastern football games. He graduated from Bothell, Wash., High School.

 

Maxine Davis (Coach/Gymnastics)

Davis coached Eastern's women's gymnastics team for nine seasons from 1970-78 with national championship appearances all nine seasons. Eastern placed fifth in 1971, seventh in 1972 and seventh in the AIAW Small College National Championships in her final season in 1978. In 1971, her team won the PNRP 8 Championship. In 1978, she was selected as the Coach of the Year by the Northwest Collegiate Women's Sports Association. She coached All-American Jan Rohrer (1978), as well as All-American JoJo McDonald (1972). McDonald was selected as the Inland Empire Amateur Athlete of the Year and in 2005 was inducted into the Eastern Athletics Hall of Fame. Davis helped continue a stretch of 14-straight national appearances for Eastern, including the women's collegiate Class II national title in 1970 under Dana Vail. Davis served in various capacities on national gymnastics committees and at national events, including as chair of the Association of Intercollegiate Athletics for Women (AIAW) from 1978-80. She wrote the operating code and developed the first national small college gymnastic championship in 1978. She was nominated as one of six to coach the United States women at the World University Games in 1973 in Moscow, Russia, and again in 1977 in Germany. In all, she spent more than 40 years teaching at all levels of education, including 23 years coaching gymnastics and dance. She has also authored three books. Davis competed in interscholastic gymnastics from grades 7-12, but a back injury kept her from competing as a collegian. She received her bachelor's degree from Slippery Rock University in Pennsylvania and her master's from Cal State University Los Angeles (CSULA). She retired as professor emeritus in Eastern's physical education department and health department. She also coached in California at Chino High School and Chaffey College.

 

Gary Lindeblad (Athlete/Golf & Contributor)

Gary LindebladA four-time participant in the NAIA golf championships, Lindeblad has spent more than 35 years as the head pro at golf courses in the Inland Northwest. He graduated in 1968 from North Central High School in Spokane and continued his education at Eastern where he received his accounting degree in 1972. He went to the NAIA Championships four times in the late 1960's and early 1970's. He helped Eastern to three-straight Evergreen Conference titles and four NAIA District 1 titles, including 1970 when he had a 74.5 average. In 1971 he won the NAIA District 1 individual title during Eastern's six-year reign as team champion. He became a golf pro, and after spending 12 years at Liberty Lake Golf Course in Spokane, he moved on to Indian Canyon Golf Course where he has remained since Jan. 1, 1985. He has received over 40 Inland Empire Chapter and Pacific Northwest Section awards for his service to the PGA, golf instruction and junior golf. In 1995, Gary was named Golf Business Magazine's "Golf Professional of the Year." He founded the Rosauers Open Invitational golf tournament in 1988, which raises more than $100,000 annually for the Vanessa Behan Crisis Nursery, a nonprofit organization that serves abused children in the Spokane area. As a tribute to his mentoring skills, at least 12 of his former employees have gone on to become head golf pros or head golf coaches. His playing career also continued to flourish after leaving Eastern, including titles in the 1990 Rosauers Open and the 1995 Lilac City Invitational. Lindeblad has played on 11 PNWPGA Section Hudson Cup teams, was the captain in 2004 and has won numerous chapter and section titles. He competed in the Senior PGA Championship in May 2001 but didn't make the cut after opening rounds of 74 and 79 (nine-over-par). In 2007, he was voted into the Pacific Northwest Section of the Professional Golfers' Association of America (PNWPGA) Hall of Fame. Since 1999, he has battled cancer, a rare form of lymphoma called Waldenstrom's macroglobulinemia. Bob Scott, now the head pro at MeadowWood Golf Course, praised his former mentor in a published article in the Spokane Journal of Business in 2005: "Gary has been one of the biggest influences in my life, and not just golf. He was my mentor. No one has taught more people in the Spokane area than Gary. Part of the reason for the growth of golf in this area is that you have somebody like Gary teaching the game." In a Spokane Spokesman-Review article in 2007 announcing the selection of Lindeblad to the PNWPGA Hall of Fame, executive director Jeff Ellison had this to say: "It reflects a lifetime of excellence and service to fellow professionals and their profession. Gary has done a remarkable job of helping the Rosauers Open become one of the premier section events in the country."

 

Kevin Sargent (Athlete/Football)

Before embarking on a highly-productive seven-year career in the National Football League, Sargent twice earned NCAA Football Championship Subdivision (formerly I-AA) All-America honors as an offensive tackle at Eastern. He earned first team accolades on the prestigious Walter Camp and Kodak All-America teams, with the Kodak team voted on by FCS college coaches. He also earned second team All-America honors as a junior in 1990 from the Associated Press and the Football News. Although Eastern was just 5-6 both seasons, he and fellow NFL standout and EWU Hall of Fame member Kurt Schulz helped lay the groundwork for Eastern's Big Sky Conference championship in 1992. It also helped Sargent toward an injury-shortened seven-year career in the NFL where he started 63 of 73 career games played. He signed a free agent contract with the Cincinnati Bengals in 1992, and not only did he make the team, but he quickly developed into a starter. He played in 16 games as a rookie, including eight starting assignments. He began the 1993 season as the starter at left tackle in place of 11-time Pro Bowler and eventual NFL Hall of Fame inductee Anthony Munoz. But Sargent broke his arm on the second play of the season and missed most of the year. In 1995 the offensive line set a franchise record by allowing just 1.56 sacks per game, and he had just one missed assignment in 852 total snaps that season. In 1997 he had no missed assignments in 604 plays, and was awarded an offensive game ball for helping Corey Dillon rush for a NFL rookie record 246 yards. He missed all of the 1996 season and six games in 1997 after neck surgery to repair a herniated disk that would later end his career. Nevertheless, he became the highest-paid offensive lineman in Bengals history in 1998 when he signed a four-year contract worth about $12 million, including a $3.5 million signing bonus. He then started all 16 games that season, but his career ended during the 1999 preseason because of numbness and tingling in his back, arms and hands. A 1987 graduate of Bremerton, Wash., High School, Sargent was inducted into the Kitsap Sports Hall of Fame on Oct. 13, 2007. In June 2008, he was selected to Eastern's "100 for 100" All-Time team to commemorate Eastern's 100th season of football. Former Eastern offensive line coach Larry Hattemer, who recruited and coached Sargent, had this to say in a 2007 story in the Kitsap Sun: "When I watched him play basketball, I saw this big, tall kid with long arms who could move his feet. I said, `Here's a guy if he can't play tight end or defensive end, he can sure be a tackle. He was a really weak kid, but he found his way to the weight room. Some guys do, some guys don't. It meant a lot to him to be a good player. He got to 285 and he could still run and jump and play basketball. When Anthony Munoz retired from the Bengals, this kid from Eastern stepped right in. I was really happy for him because Kevin's a great guy. He understood the game and played hard. He did what you asked. He had a little bit of an attitude during the game, which is what you're looking for."

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