Class of 2007
Eastern Inducts Five Individuals & Two Teams in 2007 Class
Five individuals and two teams comprised the eighth class
of inductees into the Eastern Washington University Athletics Hall
of Fame in ceremonies that took place on Sept. 29, 2007, in Cheney,
The new inductees included All-America cross country and track standout Kari McKay, record-setting All-West Coast fullback Meriel Michelson and former gymnastics coach and long-time supporter Thorne Tibbitts.
The other two individual inductees were members of Eastern's highly-successful volleyball program in the late 90's -- player Kim Exner and her coach Pamela Parks, who honored for being a fixture for more than 30 years in the Eastern athletic department.
Two teams were inducted as Eastern celebrated the 25th anniversary of the school's 1982 NCAA Division II cross country title and the 30th anniversary of the 1977 NAIA wrestling championship.
In addition, John Lothspeich was selected as the first recipient of the Eastern Athletics Hall of Fame Service and Contribution Award.
Exner led Eastern's volleyball program to an amazing 46-12 record her final two seasons in 1997 and 1998. Both seasons Eastern was 13-3 in the Big Sky Conference as the Eagles won a Big Sky co-regular season title in 1997 and earned an at-large berth in the NCAA Tournament in 1998. A unanimous selection for 1998 Big Sky Conference MVP and first team All-Big Sky honors, she was also the 1997 Big Sky Conference co-MVP and was a three-time first team All-Big Sky selection. She also earned American Volleyball Coaches Association All-Region VIII accolades in both 1997 & 1998. She finished her four-year career (1995-98) with a Big Sky Conference record 1,860 kills (4.43 a game), and had 4,331 total attempts, 643 errors and a .281 hitting percentage. Exner became the first player in conference history to win the AVCA National Player of the Week award on Sept. 14, 1998. She won the Big Sky Conference Player of the Week award five times during the 1998 season, and was the first player in conference history to win the award in consecutive weeks. She accomplished that feat twice, and in her career Exner won the Player of the Week award 11 times. Among the seven school records she broke was the single-season kills mark with 561 in 1998. Also an outstanding student, she was a second team selection on the CoSIDA All-District VIII Academic team in 1998. She was also the 1998 Inland Northwest Amateur Athlete of the Year as selected by the Spokane Sportswriters and Broadcasters. The native of Vernon, B.C., went on to serve as an assistant coach in Eastern's volleyball program, play professionally for three years in Europe and play for the Canadian National Team two years. She married former EWU offensive coordinator Timm Rosenbach. and they had their first child, a girl named Reece Tammy, on Feb. 6, 2007.
McKay made three appearances in the NCAA Championships in the
early 1990's -- two in cross country and one in track. She earned
All-America honors in the 10,000 meters on the track as a senior in
1992 when she placed fourth with a 34:56.38 time. Her time of
33:46.1 earlier that season was a school record and the
third-fastest in Big Sky Conference history. She placed 33rd
nationally in cross country in 1991, missing All-America honors by
two places (the top 25 finishers excluding foreign athletes). The
year before she was 69th. She scored 26 points single-handedly in
three events at the 1992 Big Sky Conference Indoor Championships,
with wins in the 3,000 and 5,000 to earn Track Athlete of the Meet
honors. At the Big Sky Cross Country Championships, she placed
fourth as a junior and second as a senior. In her career she won
six invitational cross country races. She broke five school
records, including all indoor and outdoor records in the 3,000
meters and above and a Big Sky Indoor Championships record in the
5,000 (16:35.08). She was selected as the NCAA Woman of the Year
for the State of Washington in 1992, and that same year she was
named to the Big Sky Conference Women's All-Decade Team in cross
country. A 3.60 student at Eastern, she earned her bachelor's
degree in therapeutic recreation in 1992. She was named to the Big
Sky All-Academic team six out of a possible six quarters at
Eastern. She went on to become one of the Pacific Northwest's
premier road runners. She won the Portland Marathon in October
1998, and placed 46th in the marathon at the 2004 Olympic Trials.
She also appeared in the Olympic Trials for the 2000 Olympics in
Sydney. Her best marathon time was 2:45:55 at the 1998 Portland
Marathon. For six-straight years from 1999-2004, she was the top
female finisher from Spokane in the prestigious Lilac Bloomsday
race in Spokane. At Bloomsday in 2004, she was 23rd among all
females and was third from the State of Washington with a time of
45:44. In 2003 she was second among competitors from the State of
Washington and 22nd overall among females with a time of 44:57. The
year prior she was also second among Washington runners and was
14th overall with a time of 43:41. Her best effort at Bloomsday
came in 1997 with a time of 41:32 when she placed 69th overall and
fifth among women. McKay graduated from Almira High School where
she was not only a track standout, but scored 1,798 points in
basketball from 1983-87. She also competed two seasons in track and
cross country for Community Colleges of Spokane.
For nearly 40 years Michelson owned the school's career rushing record with 2,517 yards from 1947-50. He had 1,049 yards in 1950 when he led the nation in rushing and was selected to the United Press Little All-West Coast team. That rushing total stood as a school record for 15 years as he had one of just three 1,000-yard seasons in the first 86 years of Eastern Football (the Eagles have had 10 1,000-yard rushers in the last 12 seasons entering 2007). Michelson had three performances of at least 195 yards in 1950, and still owns three of the top 27 performances in school history (19 have come since 1997). He had 226 yards versus British Columbia that was a school record for 15 years and still ranks eighth all-time at Eastern. He also earned All-Evergreen Conference honors in 1950, as well as in 1949 when he had 992 yards. Playing under Abe Poffenroth, Eastern teams were 29-6 in that span and won or shared the first three Evergreen Conference titles (1948-49-50). His brother Kenny also played for Eastern, lettering in 1949. Michelson went on to a long career in education, including 30 years as a teacher and counselor at McLoughlin Junior High in Pasco, Wash. He and his wife, Hazel, were married for 58 years. Meriel passed away on July 18, 2007, at the age of 83. Less than a year after his death, Michelson was one of the 12 running backs on Eastern's "100 for 100" All-Time Football Team released in June 2008 by the EWU Athletic Department. The overall "100 for 100" squad consisted of 100 of the top players in school history to help commemorate the 100th year of football at Eastern. Players were honored on Eastern Athletics Hall of Fame Day on Sept. 27, 2008, in conjunction with EWU's Big Sky Conference football game with Idaho State.
In the 1990's, no athletic program at Eastern Washington
University had more success and growth than the volleyball team
under the direction of legendary head coach Pamela Parks. She had a
291-256 record in 18 seasons as head coach of the Eagles from
1976-78 and 1985-99. Including a short stint at Montana State, her
310 career wins made her one of only four coaches in Big Sky
Conference history with more than 300 wins. In 22 years as a
collegiate and high school head coach, Parks won 375 matches and in
1989 was selected as Big Sky Coach of the Year and AVCA Northwest
Region Coach of the Year. In addition, she was honored by U.S.A.
Volleyball for nearly 20 years of coaching Junior Olympic
Volleyball teams. The path to coaching greatness began for Parks as
a setter for Eastern's volleyball team in the early 1970's. After
graduating from Eastern in 1974, she served as an assistant for two
years before becoming head coach at Eastern for three seasons. She
left to coach Sandpoint to an Idaho State Championship in 1980,
then eventually returned to Cheney in 1985 after spending the 1984
season as head coach at Montana State. In her tenure, Eastern had
six 20 victory seasons, won two Big Sky Conference titles (1989
regular season and tournament championships and the 1997 regular
season co-championship) and advanced to three NCAA Tournaments.
Parks obviously saved the best for last. In her final three
seasons, her Eagle teams won 70 matches and lost just 20 for a
winning rate of nearly 80 percent. Her final two seasons ended with
NCAA Tournament appearances. And in each year -- starting a streak
that exists entering the 2007 season -- Eastern has ranked in the
top 25 nationally in attendance while averaging more than 1,000
fans per match. Parks stepped down as head coach following the 1999
season when she was elevated to the position of associate athletic
director-senior woman administrator. She served as Eastern's senior
woman administrator from 1991-99 on a part-time basis. In the
2005-06 school year she served as interim athletic director. Since
2002, she has been a member of the prestigious NCAA Volleyball
Committee. At the collegiate and junior volleyball levels, and as
director of the State B High School Volleyball Championships at
EWU, Parks never passed up an opportunity to promote and advance
the sport. She and Irene Matlock were local pioneers who helped
start, administer and coach numerous junior clubs and teams in the
Evergreen Region of U.S.A. Volleyball. When she stepped down as
Eastern's coach, the Evergreen Region of USA Volleyball issued this
statement: "Pam has impacted numerous young women and men, not only
improving their skills as volleyball players but also as young
adults. She helped them learn immeasurable lessons in life
including hard work, dedication, perseverance, leadership,
achievement in a team concept and dealing with success and failure.
Often, her willingness to see a young player succeed meant
embracing the thought that the player may attend a college besides
EWU. She encouraged player development in a manner that forced them
to use their own minds and to strive to reach the highest
potential, and not be complacent or accept less. There can be no
greater honor to a coach, administrator and teacher than to see the
number of lives affected in such a positive manner."
First as a coach and then as a faithful supporter of Eastern
Athletics, Thorne Tibbitts (pictured on the right in the photo) has
been actively involved in the growth of athletics programs at
Eastern Washington since 1960. In the publication "Washington State
Gymnastics History" by Lee Bjella and Mary Sarver, Tibbitts was
selected as one of 34 "pioneers" of gymnastics in the state of
Washington. He was on the physical education staff and coached
men's gymnastics, helping lead Eastern to a second-place finish at
the NAIA Championships in 1965 in just the second season that
organization sponsored a national championship. His team was the
runner-up behind champion Western Illinois as eight Eastern
athletes finished in the top 10 of their respective events. Among
them were All-Americans Steve Woodward (second in the all-around)
and Don Funderberg (second in the free exercise). He coached Jack
Benson to an appearance in the 1962 NCAA Championships in the
horizontal bar, rope climb and ring competition. Benson would
succeed Tibbitts as coach and go on to a 12-year career at Eastern
that included eight national championship appearances that included
finishes of second, third, fourth and fifth (twice). In 1965,
Tibbitts volunteered to be golf coach and took two golfers to the
NCAA Championships. One of them, Karl Ota, placed sixth and earned
first team All-America honors. Tibbitts was a founding member of
the Eagle Athletic Association in 1983, and has served as president
and on the board of directors. He has been one of the
organization's top contributors and fund-raisers ever since. During
the EAA fund drive in 2006, he was team captain of the "Team
Tibbitts" squad that won the team championship for the
seventh-straight year. He is annually an All-Star as one of the top
individual fund-raisers during the drive. In fall 2002, he and his
wife Sally transferred a gift of real estate to the EWU Foundation
as a gift toward the Woodward Field Renovation project. Tibbitts
graduated from Bethel High School in 1955 and lettered four years
at Washington State University in gymnastics. He competed in all 10
events that men participated in during that era of gymnastics. He
was team captain in 1959 when he qualified for the NCAA
Championships in the horizontal bar and parallel bar events. In
1957 he was the Pacific Northwest champion in the horizontal bar.
He assisted at WSU before moving to EWU in 1960. His stop at
Eastern was part of a 17-year career in higher education. When he
left Eastern in 1965, he was hired by the University of Oregon to
work in the nation's first urban Job Corps Center in Astoria, Ore.,
at the old Navy base there called Tongue Point. He and Yoshi Hatano
put together a competitive gymnastics team made up of high school
dropouts from throughout the United States. He then went to the
University of Nevada in Reno and taught physical education, coached
men's gymnastics and directed a large intramurals program. From
there he went to the University of New Mexico in Albuquerque to
work on his doctorate in the field of recreation. In 1969, Dr. Jack
Leighton hired him a second time to develop the young Recreation
and Parks Administration program at Eastern. Tibbitts went into the
real estate business in 1976, and he has been a top producer in the
Spokane area for over 30 years. Besides his involvement with the
EAA, Tibbitts has been a member and former lieutenant governor of
Kiwanis International, president of the Cheney Chamber of Commerce
and is a member of El Katif Shrine.
Eastern won the 1977 National Association of Intercollegiate
Athletics (NAIA) wrestling championship, representing the school's
first national championship at any level and the only team
championship at the NAIA level. Eastern was coached by Curt Byrnes
and led by the event's "Outstanding Wrestler," Mike Reed
(pictured), and three-time national champion Lanny Davidson. Reed
won the 158-pound title and Davidson was the 177-pound champ as
both earned All-America honors. Heavyweight Don Wilson and
118-pound Ken Foss were also All-Americans with runner-up finishes.
Eastern hosted the event, and edged second-place Grand Valley by 1
3/4 points. The margin probably would have been more if it wasn't
for a tournament-ending injury by Jerry Lorton at 126 pounds.
Lorton was selected as the Outstanding Wrestler in the Evergreen
Conference Championships and was an All-American the year before.
Other wrestlers competing at the NAIA Championships were Manual
Brown (134 pounds), Al Spaulding (150), Kirk Greer (142), Jerry
Allen (167) and Greg Dardon (190).
Eastern's first National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) team title came in 1982 when the Eagles won the NCAA Division II cross country championship. Eastern won the title with 84 points, finishing well ahead of runner-up South Dakota State with 123. The team featured a trio of All-Americans -- team captain Steve Pybus, Darryl Genest and Monte Wright -- and was coached by Jerry Martin. Pybus was 14th overall, finishing with a time of 38:39.7 on the 10,000-meter course. Genest was 16th (38:42.4) and Wright placed 25th (39:03.2). The meet took place Nov. 13, 1982, at St. Cloud, Minn., in ankle-deep snow. Greg Meyer, in fact, tripped at the start, lost his shoe and was in last place before passing more than 130 runners (166 finished) to finish 32nd. He would later earn most inspirational team honors. Other finishers included Ed Dotter (33rd), Mark Hoitink (66th) and Matt Morgan (88th), who was involved in a headfirst spill into a snowbank at the start of the race. Eastern featured a large contingent of runners that season, and at one point won three invitational meets on three consecutive days. One squad was victorious in meets in Alaska in Anchorage on Friday and Fairbanks on Sunday, and the other team won a meet in Walla Walla on Saturday.
Service & Contribution Award Recipient
"To serve, not to be served," is the motto of American Association of Retired Persons founder Dr. Ethel Percy Andrus. John Lothspeich personified that motto in all that he contributed to the Pacific Northwest region, including Eastern Washington University.
As a result, Lothspeich was honored as the first recipient of the Eastern Athletics Hall of Fame Service and Contribution Award. Lothspeich, who played basketball at Eastern in the 40's, and spent nearly 20 years as an administrator on the campus in Cheney, Wash., was honored on Sept. 29, 2007. He passed away on Jan. 17, 2008, at the age of 84.
"John is an outstanding individual to be the first recipient of this award," said his former Eastern teammate Pat Whitehill. "I had the good fortune to play with John at EWU and he was truly a leader. I remember at one point in the 1947-48 season we were not playing well and John brought us together at our hotel in Ellensburg and gave us a pep talk that turned our season around. Since that time he has impressed me in all the varied areas he has been associated with -- be it hunting turkeys or working with the AARP."
A 1948 Eastern Washington graduate and former basketball player under the legendary W.B "Red" Reese, Lothspeich spent his lifetime as an advocate of education and, in his later years, fellow retired persons. He was a leader for civic engagement and public policy advocacy in Eastern Washington, and was justly honored for his efforts.
In 2005, he received the Washington State AARP Andrus Award for Community Service. It is the most prestigious award given to volunteers, and symbolizes that individuals have the power and ability to make a difference in the lives of others.
"John makes a total commitment to his beliefs, and he believes he can make a difference through his volunteerism," said John Barnett, who nominated Lothspeich for the Andrus Award. "His impressive list of volunteer accomplishments is a real inspiration for community involvement."
Fourth of seven generations of his family to live on the Palouse . . .
Lothspeich's roots began in the small, farming community of Colfax, Wash. He was the fourth of what is now seven generations of his family to live on the Palouse.
After graduating in 1941 from Colfax High School, Lothspeich attended Eastern (then known as Eastern Washington College of Education) where his mother graduated from in 1918 (then known as the State Normal School at Cheney). He was at Eastern two years before spending three years in the Army during World War II. He was assigned to a field artillery platoon, and was stationed in the Pacific near Japan when the United States bombed Japan and ended the war.
He returned to Eastern and earned his bachelor's degree in 1948, then started his career in education at Cashmere (Wash.) High School. Reese helped him land the job, and then Lothspeich proceeded to lead Cashmere to its first state tournament berth since Reese had done it 10 years earlier.
Lothspeich then moved to Moses Lake (Wash.) High School where he taught and served as principal. However, he was an Army reservist and was called into active duty in Korea. He returned to Moses Lake, and eventually was selected by the Jaycees at that city's "Boss of the Year."
After he received his master's degree from Eastern in 1952, he did further graduate work at Washington State University. He received a Kellogg Fellowship to study higher education at the University of California at Berkeley.
Eventually, as part of that fellowship, he came to Eastern in 1960 and served in a variety of capacities. Among his positions were as director of the Eastern Alumni Association and as an assistant to the president. He eventually became Director of College Relations and retired from that position in 1978.
When he retired, he was given a distinguished service award by Eastern President Dr. H. George Frederickson and the Board of Trustees. The certificate he received read, in part: "Your energy seems to be unlimited. Your enthusiasm and love for Eastern, its past, present and future, is boundless. We are all in your debt and no one knows how you will be replaced. Our only consolation is the certain knowledge that as you retire from this career you will remain active and above all will continue to serve your alma mater with love and distinction."
While at Eastern, he helped bring the Seattle Seahawks training camp to EWU when the National Football League franchise began competition in 1976. The organization made Cheney its home from 1976-85 and again from 1997-2006.
During negotiations with the Seahawks, he remembers that the organization was also considering training at the University of Oregon, the alma mater of head coach Jack Patera. But his sales pitch for Eastern included the pleas for the Seahawks to prove that they were "Washington's Team" by bringing training camp to the highly-populated Spokane area.
But even when they came, it was a challenge. Turning Eastern's clay-hardened fields into a more desirable playing surface in two months time was the first of many issues that came up. Obtaining larger beds, installing air conditioning in every dorm room and negotiating a cost for meals on campus followed.
Lothspeich also remembered having to gather an emergency meeting with key members of the Spokane media to promote a pre-season game at Spokane's 34,000-seat Albi Stadium. With a little over a week before the game was scheduled to take place, he recalled that ticket sales were at about 6,000. But he estimated a crowd of about 25,000 was on hand after his pleas were heard and the media heavily promoted the event.
His original meetings with the new NFL squad came while on side-trips when he was in Olympia garnering legislative support for Eastern. The Special Events Pavilion -- also known as Reese Court -- was one of the dozen building projects on campus that were paid for with funds he helped secure.
He recalls a particularly tense two-hour period in Olympia when the $13 million appropriation Eastern requested for the facility was reduced to about $8 million. He frantically called architects to find out if the project could proceed at that price. After some quick cost-cutting measures -- including reducing capacity -- the funding was secured and the project moved forward. The facility was opened in the 1975-76 school year.
While at Eastern, he was also a founding member of the W.B. "Red" Reese Memorial Scholarship Fund, which started in the 1980-81 school year in the memory of the former Eastern coach and athletic director. Lothspeich served on that committee, as well as the committee for the dedication of Reese Court and the Reese Room in 1980 at the Eastern Special Events Pavilion.
He was also a founding member of the Eagle Athletic Association and is an on-going contributor to that scholarship fund-raising organization, which started in 1983. He has served on the Eastern Athletics Hall of Fame Selection Committee since the Hall of Fame began in 1996.
He is also a past president of the EWU Alumni Association. In recognition for his efforts, he received Eastern's Alumnus Service Award at commencement ceremonies in 1991.
Contributions Even Grander Outside of Eastern . . .
His job at Eastern enabled him to be active in many civic endeavors in the Spokane community. He was president for the Spokane Kiwanis and was also active in such organizations as United Way, American Red Cross, Spokane County Zoological Society, the Greater Spokane Sports Association and the Spokane Chamber of Commerce. In 1984, he was the President of the GSSA, an organization he was associated with for more than 10 years.
He also served on various committees for Expo '74 in Spokane and from 1979-87 he was the national director of the People to People High School Student Ambassador Programs. In 1984, he was one of a select group of civilians selected to attend the U.S. Army War College National Security Seminar in Pennsylvania.
After he retired, he was extremely active in various retiree organizations, including the Washington State School Retirees Association (WSSRA) and AARP. His experience in working with the legislature proved to be invaluable experience for the two organizations he represented.
In June 2007 he started a one-year term as president of the WSSRA. He was also an executive council member for Washington State AARP. His activities with WSSRA also included serving as chair of the Spokane Area Retired Educators Association Legislative Committee for seven years. That led to his tenure on the WSSRA State Legislative Committee, and he served as chair of the WSSRA Committee on Pension Governance and PAC Committee.
But perhaps his greatest source of pride as a retiree came in the late 1990's when he helped raise money for the Southside Senior Activity Center in Spokane. He helped raise $1.2 million, then organized a crew of volunteers to landscape the grounds.
Lothspeich pointed with pride the center's association with education through a teacher's aide program. Retirees from the center served 34 elementary schools in the Spokane area, which begin for the volunteers with observations at Reid Elementary in Cheney. Reid has had a long history as a laboratory school for education students at Eastern.
Playing Career at Eastern Interrupted by World War II . . .
Lothspeich played basketball at Eastern in the 1941-42 and 1942-43 seasons, and then again in 1946-47 and 1947-48. Eastern was a collective 83-33 in his four seasons, including the school's first-ever National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) Tournament berth in 1942, and subsequent berths in 1943 and 1947 when Eastern advanced to the quarterfinals.
In 1948, he was given the team's Scarlet Arrow Award, and, as a sophomore, he was a second team All-Winco Conference selection.
Because of World War II, Lothspeich was not able to play on the 1945-46 squad that finished 31-4, including a 27-game winning streak versus collegiate competition. That team advanced to the quarterfinals of the NAIA Tournament and was inducted into the Eastern Athletics Hall of Fame in 2003.
The 1942-43 Eastern team was also very impressive, finishing with a 27-5 record under coach Bob Brumblay. Brumblay coached three seasons in place of Reese, who left Eastern to serve in World War II.
The `42-43 squad advanced to the NAIA Tournament, and Lothspeich scored a team-high 18 points in a 54-42 first-round win over one of the tourney favorites, Valparaiso. Eastern used its running attack to negate Valpo's height advantage, including one player 6-foot-10. Lothspeich was Eastern's tallest player at a generous 6-5. "I was shorter than their team average of 6-6 per man," he laughed, more than 60 years later.
Eastern won its next game 54-41 over St. Cloud to advance to the quarterfinals. However, a pair of foot injuries slowed two of Eastern's players and the season came to a halt with a 57-51 loss in overtime.
John's older brother, Bill Lothspeich, also played on the 1942-43 team alongside his brother. Bill graduated from Eastern in 1943 and earned the basketball team's Scarlet Arrow Award that year. John and Bill also competed in track and at Eastern, and Bill was a three-year letter winner in football.
He met his wife, Pauline, at Eastern and she received her bachelor's degree in 1948 and her master's in 1963. She retired as an elementary education teacher and joined her husband as a volunteer on behalf of retirees ever since.
They were married 60 years and had a daughter, Marti Joe Fulfs, and a son, Randy, who both graduated from Ferris High School in Spokane. Randy, who also received his bachelor's and master's degrees from Eastern, retired after teaching and coaching at Shadle Park.
Bill's grandson, Randy Meade, became a third generation member of his family to play football at Eastern when he lettered four years from 2002-05. Randy's father, Dennis Meade, lettered at Eastern from 1969-70.