Class of 2012
Four individuals, along with the 1997 Eastern Football Team, were honored in Eastern’s 12th Induction Class
Four individuals joined the 1997 Eastern Football Team as the 12th class of inductees in the Eastern Athletics Hall of Fame, and were honored on Oct. 6, 2012, in Cheney, Wash.
Scott Garske, an All-America football player for Eastern in 1973, was inducted, thus creating a family event for him. His son, Griffin, was a backup quarterback on the 1997 Eastern team, which finished 12-2 and advanced to the semifinals of the NCAA Football Championship Subdivision Playoffs (then known as I-AA).
Record-breaking sprinter Joyce Rainwater Blount was inducted after a remarkable career that saw her win eight Big Sky Conference titles and appear at the NCAA Division I Championships twice. She still owns four school records and three conference marks after a career from 1990-95 that included time off to have a baby.
Inducted posthumously was Don Kallem, who spent 17 seasons as Eastern’s golf coach and 13 as an assistant football coach. His golf teams won eight NAIA District titles and advanced to the NAIA Championships nine times. A three-time district coach of the year, he spent 31 years in the Eastern physical education department. He passed away on July 10, 1997.
The Eastern Athletics Hall of Fame Service and Contribution Award was presented to 1970 Eastern graduate Jon Heimbigner for his vast contributions to the sports community in the Inland Northwest. Already a member of four halls of fame, he has served for more than 30 years on four different organizations, as well as serving on the Eastern Athletics Hall of Fame committee since its inception in 1996. Recently, he stepped down as a board member for the Spokane Regional Sports Commission after 34 years of service (1978-2012).
The 1997 football team was inducted on the 15th anniversary of its thrilling playoff run, and a large group of former players, coaches and support staff attended the ceremonies and 55-17 football victory over North Dakota. After winning the Big Sky Conference title, the ’97 squad advanced in the playoffs by defeating Northwestern State (40-10) and Western Kentucky (38-21), then fell to Youngstown State 25-14 in the semifinals. All three playoff games were played at Albi Stadium in Spokane, Wash., as the Eagles captivated Eastern fans and alums throughout the Northwest. The Eagles also won the outright Big Sky Conference title, and remain the only Big Sky Conference team other than national powerhouse Montana to win an outright title from 1995-2011.
Established in 1996, this year’s inductees brings the total number of individuals in the Hall of Fame to 61. Nine teams will have also been inducted, as well as 12 recipients of the Eastern Athletics Hall of Fame Service and Contribution Award.
Below are bios of each of the inductees.
Garske was a first team NAIA All-American in 1973 as an end for Eastern, and went on to win Inland Empire Amateur Athlete of the Year honors for 1973. Current NBA standout Rodney Stuckey (2007) and football All-American J.C. Sherritt (2010) are the only other Eastern athletes to win that prestigious award, which has existed since 1948 and includes all collegiate and amateur athletes from Eastern Washington and the Idaho panhandle. Garske had 33 catches for 460 yards and 39 points as a senior, giving him career totals of 106 catches for 1,477 yards and 93 total points. He also earned honors in 1971 and 1972, catching 31 passes for 422 yards and five touchdowns in 1971 and then finishing with 42 catches for 595 yards and four touchdowns the following season. As a senior he was named to the Associated Press Little All-America first team after earning All-West Coast and Little All-Northwest accolades. He was a first team All-NAIA District 1 selection as a junior and senior, and was first team All-Evergreen Conference those two seasons as well. In 1971, he was a honorable mention All-Evco pick. He was drafted in the 7th round (179th pick overall) by the Pittsburgh Steelers in 1974, but a slow-healing and painful hairline fracture in his heel essentially ended his playing career. A 1970 graduate of North Central High School in Spokane, Garske originally attended the University of Hawaii and played for Eastern coaching legend Dave Holmes. But Garske returned to play at Eastern, and ended his collegiate career with a unique football flurry. The tight end/kicker/punter helped Eastern win its last four games of the season by accounting for all 28 of Eastern’s points in the first three games of that winning streak. Eastern beat Portland State 3-0, Whitworth 10-0 and Oregon Tech 13-2 when he recorded the safety. Eastern closed the season by beating College of Idaho 17-13 to finish 5-4 -- Eastern’s only winning season in a nine-year span from 1968-1976. Garske also advanced to the NCAA Championships in 1973 while competing in the shot put. 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. His son Griffin played quarterback for Eastern from 1996-98, and will be honored on the same day as his father when the 1997 Eastern team is inducted into the Hall of Fame.
Combining her track career with being a mother, Rainwater won six Big Sky Conference indoor championships (55 & 200 in 1990, 1994 and 1995) and two Big Sky titles outdoors (100 and 200 in 1994). Three times she was the “Track” Athlete of the Meet at the BSC Championships (1990 indoors, 1994 outdoors, 1995 indoors). She advanced to the NCAA Championships twice (indoors in 1995 outdoors in 1995) but never placed. She set a Big Sky record with 76 points scored at indoor conference meets (currently second in BSC history). She set Big Sky all-time records in the 200 indoors (23.82) and 100 outdoors (11.55 in 1995), and Big Sky Championship records in the 55 indoors (6.95 in 1995). All three records are still standing through the 2011-12 school year. Those three marks are school records as well, and Rainwater also owns EWU’s 200 meter outdoors (23.73 in 1994). On 12 occasions she earned Big Sky Athlete of the Week accolades. After her 1990 season at Eastern, she was married and had her first child, Khayla, and moved to Alaska. Upon returning to Eastern, she competed for two more seasons under head coach Rosalind Wallace. Khayla is now 22 and recently had twins.
Kallem spent 17 seasons as Eastern’s golf coach (1967-82, plus 1993-94 school year), as well as 13 seasons as an assistant football coach (1965-69, 1971-78). His golf teams appeared in the NAIA Championships nine times, with a best finish of 10th place. His squads won six-straight district championships from 1967-72, then won titles in 1978 and 1979 before Eastern moved to NCAA Division II competition. He was NAIA District 1 Coach of the Year three times, and coached seven district medalists. Included in the players he coached were PGA professionals Gary Lindeblad, Steve Nelke, Dan Hill, Roger Wallace, Paul Stringer and Matt Bunn. Lindeblad and Bruce Brevet each went to the NAIA Championships four times in the late 60’s. In 1979 Gene Kuhn and Steve Michelson finished tied for 17th place at the NAIA Championships as Eastern finished 16th as a team. Medalists he coached in NAIA District I included Lindeblad (1971), Brevet (1972), Michelson (1978, 79), Fred Lufkin (1968) and Steve Ferrell (1967). Kallem was a past president of the NAIA Golf Coaches Association (1971-72), and served on the NAIA Golf Committee. He was also an assistant coach on the 1967 Eastern football team which finished as the NAIA runner-up and was inducted into the Eastern Athletics Hall of Fame in 2001. Among the many outstanding Eastern athletes he helped coach, Dick Zornes, Bob Picard, Bill Diedrick, Dave Svendsen, Ed Fisher and Gary Lindeblad are members of Eastern’s Hall of Fame. The first head football coach he worked under was inaugural Hall of Fame inductee Dave Holmes, followed by Brent Wooten and John Massengale. Kallem retired as a faculty member in the Eastern physical education department after 31 years of service. He passed away on July 10, 1997. His son, Kris, was on the Eastern golf teams that Don coached, which included a third-place finish at the Big Sky Conference Championships in fall of 1993. Kris is now a PGA professional and general manager at The Fairways Golf Course near Cheney.
The Ritzville/Odessa native and Spokane businessman has a
statewide reputation for his contributions to the sports community
and has successfully played and coached softball and basketball for
35 years. Heimbigner is a 1970 graduate of Eastern after graduating
from Spokane Falls Community College in 1968. For his
contributions, most recently he was inducted into the Inland
Northwest Sports Hall of Fame on October 13, 2009, and the
Community Colleges of Spokane Hall of Fame a few months before that
on March 21, 2009. Heimbigner, who played basketball at SFCC, was
honored in 2002 with a 25-year service award from the Inland
Northwest Sportswriters and Broadcasters. He was inducted into both
the Northwest Region (2004) and Inland Empire (2000) softball halls
of fame, and was honored by SFCC as its Alumnus of the Year (2004).
He has served as chairman of the Inland Northwest Sports Hall of
Fame for 30 years (1982-present), spearheading the move from the
old Coliseum to the Veterans Arena. He has served on the selection
committee for the Eastern Athletics Hall of Fame since its
inception in 1996. He also had a long association as a board member
for the Spokane Regional Sports Commission, stepping down in 2012
after 34 years (1978-2012). He also served on the steering
committee for the State B Basketball Tournament for 30 years
(1975-2005) and on the committee for the Inland Northwest Sports
Awards Luncheon for 32 years (1980-2012).
Heimbigner has served on local organizing committees and
team host for such local events as the NCAA men’s basketball,
women’s basketball and volleyball tournaments, USA
men’s national volleyball team and the USA women’s
softball team. His other contributions include service as chairman
on the advisory board for the Community Colleges of Spokane Booster
Club and as founder and president for eight years for the Prime Cut
Volleyball Club. In 2010, he joined the board for Young Life in
Northwest Spokane. He has also spent more than 30 years as a
recreational softball and basketball player/coach, with his teams
winning a variety of league, city and state championships along
with top finishes at national and world competitions. In July 2011,
he was honored with the “Spirit of the Games” Award by
the Washington State Senior Games. Heimbigner spent 22 years with
Rainier Bank/Security Pacific Bank as vice-president and manager,
and more than 18 years with Inland Northwest Communications. His
daughter, JoEne, played volleyball at Eastern and was selected to
the Big Sky Conference All-Academic team in 2000.
The 2010 team finished what the 1997 team started.
After winning the Big Sky Conference title, the ’97 squad advanced in the FCS Playoffs by defeating Northwestern State (40-10) and Western Kentucky (38-21), then fell to Youngstown State 25-14 in the semifinals. All three playoff games were played at Albi Stadium in Spokane, Wash., as the Eagles captivated Eastern fans and alums throughout the Northwest.
The Eagles also won the outright Big Sky Conference title, and remain the only Big Sky Conference team other than national powerhouse Montana to win an outright title from 1995-2012. Eastern finished 12-2, rivaling only the 1967 Eastern team (11-1 and runner-up in the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics Playoffs) as the most successful in school history -- at the time.
Fast forward 13 years and the Eagles went on the same sort of run in the 2010 season, winning their final 11 games en route to the 2010 NCAA Division I title. That Eagle team finished 13-2 and also hosted three home games, this time on the red Fieldturf surface at Roos Field (formerly Woodward Field) in Cheney Wash. Eastern also hosted three playoff games in 2012, but like the 1997 squad, finished a victory shy of a championship game berth.
“What made this team great were its dedication to itself, its dedication to success, and its dedication to creating a legacy,” said the ’97 team’s head coach Mike Kramer, who was head coach at Idaho State and unable to attend the induction (his wife and daughter represented him). “We were ably led, possessed experienced talent and leaned on each other for big plays and big moments.”
Members of the ’97 team were riveted in 2010 during EWU’s march to the national title, turning the opportunity into a reunion. A large group of players from the ’97 team even made the trip to Frisco, Texas, for the championship game, won by the Eagles 20-19 over Delaware with three touchdowns in the final 16:48.
“It’s very apparent that the 1997 team was just that – a great team,” said Eastern athletic director Bill Chaves. “They have continued to stay connected and close to our football program, and it’s no coincidence that we’ve been very successful ever since. We are thrilled that we can honor a team that has done so much to contribute to the continued legacy we have here at Eastern.”
Both Eastern and Delaware lost in the semifinals in 1997, and Youngstown State – coached by Jim Tressel – beat McNeese State 10-9 in the championship game that season. Helping keep the Eagles from the title game was a controversial fumble by EWU and subsequent 73-yard return for a touchdown by Youngstown State, a play which turned the tide in the third quarter with EWU behind just 7-0.
“It’s ironic that our 2010 national championship was aided by a fumble we recovered on the final play of the game that was upheld by video review,” added Chaves of EWU’s 38-31 overtime victory against North Dakota State. “But if review had existed in 1997, from what I understand, that fumble may have been overturned. And who knows what that team might have accomplished after that.”
The 1997 team may not have had the opportunity to advance to the title game (then held in Chattanooga, Tenn.), but the Eagle Football success they started is indisputable.
The groundwork was established in 1996 when the Eagles were 6-5 after a 3-8 finish the previous year. In the past 17 years (1996-2012), the Eagles have won 63 percent (127-76) of their games overall and 65 percent (85-46) in Big Sky Conference play. Included are five Big Sky titles and four runner-up finishes, as well as 15 winning seasons, seven NCAA Championship Subdivision Playoff berths and the 2010 FCS title.
Eastern has also won two FCS total offense championships (1997, 2001), as well as one passing offense title (2011) and one for scoring offense (2001). The 1997 team, featuring a pair of 1,000-yard rushers and a 3,000-yard quarterback, averaged 481.1 yards of offense per game and had 6,735 yards total to set a school record which still stands.
The 1997 team had an incredible 14 players who at one time in their careers would win All-America honors for the Eagles, plus two others who redshirted that season. All 16 of those players would go on to be selected to EWU’s “100-for-100” All-Time team in 2008, commemorating the first 100 years of football at Eastern.
Two of the 1997 All-Americans were quarterback Harry Leons and defensive tackle Chris Scott, who won Big Sky Conference Player of the Year honors on their respective sides of the ball.
Other first team All-Big Sky Conference selections included offensive tackle Jim Buzzard, wide receiver Jeff Ogden, free safety Maurice Perigo, center Kevin Peterson, running back Rex Prescott and linebacker Derek Strey. In addition, defensive end Steve Mattson won first team All-Big Sky honors and joined Ogden as a first team Academic All-American.
Interestingly, all nine of those mentioned players were seniors in 1997. Kramer, who would leave Eastern after the 1999 season for Montana State, was the Big Sky Conference Coach of the Year. A backup center on that team was Aaron Best, who is EWU’s current offensive coordinator and offensive line coach. The 2012 season was his 16th as either a player (1996-99) or coach (2000-2006, 2008-12). His offensive line coach was Paul Wulff, who would become EWU’s head coach for eight seasons (2000-2007) and at Washington State for four more (2008-11).
The stories of Leons and Ogden – both originally walk-ons – were particularly extraordinary.
Leons had a school-record five interceptions in his starting debut against Idaho State on Oct. 7, 1995, versus Idaho State. But he eventually set school records for single season (169.5 in 1997) and career (140.8) passing efficiency rating. He passed for 3,189 yards and 24 touchdowns in 1997, and had 4,964 yards and 36 TDs in his career after his inauspicious beginning.
Ogden was born with foot problems that led doctors to believe he might forever walk with a limp, but he eventually became a top-ranked youth gymnast. In high school, he bounced from receiver to running back to quarterback, as well as defense, while battling a back injury. After one year as a junior college pole vaulter, he came to Eastern after his brother and former Eagle football player Pat Ogden (1986-89) convinced the coaching staff to allow him to walk on. After his All-America season at Eastern, he was an undrafted free agent but went on to play five seasons in the NFL for the Dallas Cowboys, Miami Dolphins and Baltimore Ravens, particularly as a kickoff and punt returner.
The hard work and development of Leons, Ogden and others on the 1997 team were what led to incredible success in 1997 for the Eagles. It’s a legacy that has continued ever since.
EASTERN ATHLETICS “100 FOR 100” ALL-TIME TEAM
To commemorate the 100th year of football at Eastern Washington University, the athletic department named 100 of the top players in school history to the “100 for 100” All-Time Football Team. Players on the squad 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. Here are the members of that team who played for the Eagles in 1997, plus two who redshirted that season:
Name - Hometown (Previous Schools) - Years Lettered at
T.J. Ackerman – Nooksack, Wash. (Nooksack Valley HS ’94) – 1995-96-97-98
Jeff Allen – Spokane, Wash. (Central Valley HS ’96) – 1997-98-99-00
Greg Belzer – Chewelah, Wash. (Jenkins HS ’96) – 1997-98-99-00
%Lamont Brightful – Everett, Wash. (Mariner HS ’97) – 1998-99-00-01
Jim Buzzard – Centralia, Wash. (Centralia HS ’93) – 1995-96-97
Luke Fritz – Osoyoos, B.C. (Oroville ’96) – 1997-98-99-00
Lance Knaevelsrud – Bellevue, Wash. (Sammamish HS ’95) – 1996-97-98-99
Harry Leons – Olympia, Wash. (Olympia HS ’93) – 1995-96-97
&Jeff Ogden – Snohomish, Wash. (Snohomish HS ‘93) – 1995-96-97
Maurice Perigo – Oak Harbor, Wash. (O. Harbor HS ’94) – 1994-95-96-97
Kevin Peterson – Port Orchard, Wash. (South Kitsap HS ‘93) – 1994-95-96-97
%Chris Polinder – Lynden, Wash. (Lynden HS ’97) – 1998-99-00-01
Rex Prescott – Seattle, Wash. (Kennedy HS ’93) – 1994-95-96-97
Dario Romero – Spokane, Wash. (Lewis & Clark HS ’96) – 1997-98-99-00
&Chris Scott – Wenatchee, Wash. (Wenatchee HS ‘93) – 1994-95-96-97
Derek Strey – Port Orchard, Wash. (South Kitsap HS ‘93) – 1993-95-96-97
&Winner of position award in fan voting.
%Redshirts in ’97.