The 1949-50 Basketball Team and Five Individuals Highlight the 11th Induction Class
Five individuals and the 1949-50 men’s basketball team will be inducted into the Eastern Athletics Hall of Fame in ceremonies that take will place on Oct. 1, 2011, in Cheney, Wash.
The inductees will be honored with a breakfast and ceremony that starts at 9 a.m. on Oct. 1 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. Inductees will also be honored at halftime of EWU’s football game against Weber State that begins at 12:35 p.m. Pacific time.
The new inductees include the 1949-50 men’s basketball team, which finished 23-7 and won the Evergreen Conference title with a 13-1 mark in the league’s second year of existence. Despite falling short in advancing to the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) Tournament, that team was called by legendary Eastern head coach Red Reese as "my best basketball club."
Individual inductees include a pair of standouts from the 1940’s -- sprinting sensation Holt Brewer and basketball standout Jack “Rabbit” Roffler. Brewer set school records in the 100-yard and 220-yard dashes, and competed in the 1948 Olympic Trials. Roffler was a “dribbling and driving lay-in artist” who helped Eastern to a collective record of 79-16 (.832 winning percentage) and two NAIA Tournament berths.
Baseball pitcher Richard “Curly” Rousseau will also be inducted for his record-breaking performance on the mound in 1970 for Eastern. Rousseau earned honorable mention All-America honors, as he had five shutouts in 1970 to rank as the school record for both a single season and career. His 1.09 earned run average in 1970 ranks second in school history, as he finished 6-2. He has since gone on to serve as President of the Eagle Athletic Association, helping that fund-raising group break records as well.
The other two inductees competed for Eastern in the school’s infancy in the NCAA Division I ranks. Former football cornerback and punt returner Rob Friese was a small-town football player from Lebam, Wash., who became a record-breaking Eastern football player from 1982-85. He helped Eastern to a 9-3 record as a senior in 1985 and the quarterfinal round of the NCAA Football Championship Subdivision Playoffs (then known as I-AA). He had 169 tackles, nine interceptions, 16 passes broken up and a 12.1 average per punt return in his career.
Volleyball setter Suzanne Vick earned second-team All-Northwest Region honors in 1989 when she helped lead Eastern to the NCAA Tournament after winning Big Sky Conference regular season and tournament titles. She Eastern win its first-ever Big Sky Conference regular season and tournament titles to advance to the program’s first-ever NCAA Tournament, finishing 25-7 overall and 14-2 in the league. Vick set the single season school record with 1,367 assists
Established in 1996, this year’s inductees will bring the total number of individuals in the Hall of Fame to 58. Eight teams will have also been inducted. Recipients of the Eastern Athletics Hall of Fame Service and Contribution Award will be announced in August.
Complete bios on the 2011 induction class are listed below.
1949-50 Men's Basketball (23-7; Coach Red Reese)
When he retired, Red Reese called his 1949-50 team "my best basketball club." Eastern won its first Evergreen Conference title in the second year of the league's existence, finishing with a 13-1 record. Eastern lost an EvCo game at Puget Sound by one point, then won its next 13 by more than 20 points per game (an average score of 70.7 - 48.5). Eastern lost in the playoffs by three points to Puget Sound, which eventually won a first-round game in the NAIA Tournament. During its preseason schedule, Eastern defeated Washington State, Idaho and Montana after losing to those same three schools earlier in the season. Eastern was led by junior forward Dick Eicher, who was inducted into the Eastern Athletics Hall of Fame in 1998. He averaged 15.1 points per game, making 52.8 percent of his field goal attempts and 69.5 percent of his free throws. Senior center Gene Burke chipped in 14.1 points per game, and was also an impressive shooter by making 50.9 percent of his shots from the field and 66.1 percent from the line. Burke averaged a team-leading 16.3 points per game during league play to earn first-team All-Evergreen Conference honors. Eicher was a second-team pick, as was junior guard Bill Hallett (9.1 points per game) and senior guard Dick Luft (8.5). Forward Pat Whitehill, a Hall of Fame inductee in 2001, was a junior on the 1949-50 squad and averaged 6.0 points per game. Eastern was directed by Red Reese, who coached Eastern to 470 victories in 31 seasons and was an inaugural Hall of Fame member in 1996.
Holt Brewer (Athlete/Track/Football/Basketball)
Brewer competed in the 1948 Olympic Trials and is still the school record holder in the 220 yard dash (21.2) and fifth in the 100 (9.6), Brewer was called by Abe Poffenroth as one of the "greatest sprinters to come out of Eastern." He won the 1947 Winco title in the 100 with a record time of 9.6 seconds, breaking the previous record held of 9.7 tied in 1940 by Vic Carpine. Carpine, who was inducted into the Eastern Athletics Hall of Fame in 2005 along with his nephews Tony and Fred Carpine, had his 220 record of 21.4 (1939) broken by Brewer in 1947. Brewer reportedly never lost a collegiate race, and at one point in his career he had times that were better than Harrison Dillard, who went on to win an Olympic gold medal in the 100 in 1948 and won a total of four Olympic titles in the sprints and hurdles. Brewer lettered in basketball at Eastern in the 1947-48 season when the Eagles finished 16-12, and he also played football. Originally from Toppenish, Wash., Brewer held the Toppenish High School record in the 200 for 55 years. Brewer left Eastern to serve the United States Army in the Korean War, and then he returned to work at his family’s farm. He eventually ran a restaurant in Mabton, Wash., for more than 25 years.
Rob Friese (Athlete/Football & Contributor)
Friese was a small-town football player from Lebam, Wash., who became a record-breaking Eastern football player from 1982-85. He has since become a highly-successful football coach, teacher and administrator, and is now the superintendent of schools for the Willapa Valley School District. He graduated in 1981 from Willapa Valley High School, where he helped his school win three state championships in sports. He was a four-year football letter winner at EWU from 1982-85, helping Eastern to a 9-3 record as a senior and the quarterfinal round of the NCAA Football Championship Subdivision Playoffs (then known as I-AA). He had 169 tackles, nine interceptions, 16 passes broken up and a 12.1 average per punt return in his career. His 84-yard punt return for a touchdown in the FCS playoffs in 1985 versus Northern Iowa still stands as the longest in school history, and he had a 72-yarder for a TD earlier that season versus Idaho. His 352 punt return yards in 1985 was a school record for 19 years, and he still ranks in the top 10 in all season and career punt return categories. His nine career interceptions ranked third in school history at the time, and his 16 passes broken up was a school record that was broken the following season. He was selected by the Eastern Athletic Department to the “100 for 100” All-Time Football Team, which was honored on Sept. 27, 2008, to commemorate Eastern’s 100th year of football. In 1999, Dick Zornes selected Friese to the "Z" Team consisting of 36 players that he felt were the best players and made the largest contributions toward the 158 games Eastern won in Zornes' 26-year association with Eagle Football. As an educator, Friese received his bachelor’s degree from Eastern in 1986 and his master’s in 1990. He was a coach and teacher at Ocosta High School before returning to his alma mater, Willapa Valley, to coach and teach. As head football coach at Willapa Valley High School, he coached the team to State B football titles in 1996 and 2001. He won 10 league titles and had a 144-47 record in 17 seasons with 15 playoff appearances (through 2010). In 2008, Willapa Valley was 11-0 before losing in the quarterfinals of the WIAA State 2B Playoffs. Including a stint at Ocosta High School, he was 150-76 in 21 seasons as a high school head football coach (through 2010). He was honored as Washington State Coaches Association District IV Football Coach of the Year twice and earned league coach of the year honors multiple times. For several years he served as the WSCA west-side coordinator for the East-West All-State football game, and once he was the winning head coach in the B/A/AA game. He was honored as the Seattle Seahawks Coach of the Week and has served on that NFL team’s High School Coaches Council. He has also served on the WIAA B Football Study Committee. As head coach of the girls’ track team, his squads won 12 league titles. Three times his teams placed third in the state, and once they finished fourth. He also served as an assistant for the boys, which won the 2002 State B title and was the runner-up the following season. Friese was named in spring 2011 as the Superintendent of the Willapa Valley School District after serving as the Willapa Valley High School principal (from 1997-2011). He won the Robert J. Handy Administrator of the Year award in 2005 and has served as the Washington Association of Secondary School Principals Small School Representative. He has also served on the AWSP Certificate of Academic Achievement Committee.
Jack "Rabbit" Roffler (Athlete/Basketball & Contributor)
A 1946 graduate of Eastern, Roffler was a point guard during three of the most successful basketball seasons in school history and went on to a successful career as a teacher and official. Eastern was 21-7 (1943-44), 27-5 (1944-45) and 31-4 (1945-46) in his three seasons, a collective record of 79-16 (.832 winning percentage). No NAIA tournament was held in 1944 because of World War II, but Eastern appeared in the NAIA Tournament his final two seasons. Nicknamed "Muscles" his freshman season, he averaged 11 points (288 total points) that season and 12.0 points the following season. Eastern lost in the first round in 1945, then defeated Louisiana Tech (66-44) and Southeastern Oklahoma (45-37) to advance to the 1946 quarterfinals where it lost to Pepperdine 46-42. He earned All-Washington Intercollegiate Athletic Conference honors as Eastern won the league title in 1946 with a 15-1 record. Leifer was team captain in 1946, and was a member of legendary head coach Red Reese's All-Time Team, representing the top 13 Eastern players he ever coached. That 1945-46 team was inducted into the Eastern Athletics Hall of Fame in 2003. Reported the Bellingham Herald: "Roffler is the swiftest thing we have seen on the court in years." The NAIA Tournament program called him a "dribbling and driving lay-in artist." Roffler went on to play professional basketball for the Springfield Squires and Tacoma Mountaineers before settling in Port Townsend, Wash., where he taught from 1948 until retirement. He spent 25 years as a basketball official, earning the Washington Officials Association Meritorious Service Award in 1975 and working eight state tournaments.
Richard "Curly" Rousseau (Athlete/Baseball & Contributor)
A 1971 graduate of Eastern, Rousseau earned honorable mention All-America honors in 1970 as a record-breaking pitcher. He later helped the Eagle Athletic Association break fund-raising records as well. In 1970 he earned All-Evergreen Conference and All-District 1 honors, and was team MVP and Scarlet Arrow award recipient. He was team captain as both a junior and senior. He had five shutouts in 1970 to rank as the school record for both single season and career. His 1.09 earned run average in 1970 ranks second in school history as he finished 6-2, with both losses coming to future major league baseball pitcher Dave Heaverlo from Central Washington (including one game by a 1-0 score). Rousseau started eight games and had seven complete games in 1970 when he pitched 58 innings and allowed just nine runs, only seven of them earned. Five of the earned runs he allowed came in one inning, as he had streaks of 31 and 18 consecutive scoreless innings. He gave up only 40 hits and seven walks, and had 36 strikeouts. He won three games by 1-0 scores, including an 11-inning win over Whitworth in which he retired 24 batters in a row. In another one of his 1-0 victories on the mound, he had Eastern's only hit and scored the only run of the game on a wild pitch. Statistics from 1971 are unavailable, but at one point he was 2-2 as a shoulder injury limited him most of the season. From 1969-70 he had an 8-10 record, and at one time held the school record with 79 career strikeouts and 11 complete games. He also has the school record with 13 strikeouts in a single game in 1971, which was followed by another game with 12. After playing one season at Spokane Community College, he was 2-8 with a 3.19 earned run average for Eastern in 1969. Of the eight losses he suffered, Eastern didn’t score in seven of them. Ligaments in his throwing arm were so loose that during games he sometimes dislocated his shoulder and had to have a teammate snap his shoulder back into place. Later, he spent five academic school years from 2002-08 as president of the Eagle Athletic Association, the fund-raising arm of the athletic department. He was a driving force in helping the organization raise a record $371,476 in pledges in 2005-06, breaking the previous record of $321,603 the previous year. He has served as co-chair of all of the record-breaking fund drives, and served in the same position for a fifth-straight year in 2006-07. The 2009-10 drive was his 11th participating in the annual fund drive, and he was an “All-Star” each of the previous 10 years as one of the top 10 producers. He also served as the host of the weekly EAA luncheon for seven years. In 2006, he was presented the EWU Student Life Alumni Excellence Award and he is also a former winner of the EAA Booster of the Year Award and a recipient of the EAA Lifetime Achievement award. He is also affectionately known as the “Candy Man” at EWU sporting events for his custom of giving out candy to staff and fans before games.
Suzanne Vick Paulsen (Volleyball)
A record-breaking setter, Vick earned second team All-Northwest Region honors in 1989 when she helped lead Eastern to the NCAA Tournament after winning Big Sky Conference regular season and tournament titles. Also that year, she earned first team All-Big Sky and Big Sky Conference All-Tournament Team honors. She was also named to the BSC All-Academic Team in 1989 and was the league’s player of the week once that season. She and league MVP Juli Argotow helped lead Eastern to its first-ever Big Sky Conference regular season and tournament titles to advance to the program’s first-ever NCAA Tournament. Eastern finished the season 25-7 and 14-2 in the Big Sky Conference. Vick set the single season school record with 1,367 assists in 1989, a mark that was broken 10 years later. She also hit .284 as a senior to set a school record that stood for eight seasons. As a junior, she was the team’s Most Valuable Player when she hit .172 and finished with 902 assists, 32 aces and 230 digs in 99 sets. She set the school record for career assists with 2,679, a record that stood for 10 years (currently third). Also a letter winner in 1986 and 1987, she finished her career with 299 total games played, a .235 hitting percentage and 570 digs. In four seasons at EWU (1986-89), the Eagles had three 20-win seasons and were a collective 77-57 overall and 33-25 in league play. She was a 1986 graduate of Wilson High School in Tacoma, Wash., where she earned All-Narrows League honors and was team captain as a senior. She was second team All-Narrows League in soccer and was her school's softball captain, and also lettered in basketball. Her sister, Sherrie, also played volleyball at Eastern. Her father, John, lettered at Eastern in football in 1959. In 2008, she was inducted into the Tacoma-Pierce County Sports Hall of Fame.