Ken Locati ’85 rediscovered his Cougar side at a football viewing party. He had lost touch for a while after moving to California. But at McGregor’s Grill and Ale House in San Diego he recaptured the pleasure of watching a game with fellow WSU fans, made some new friends, and rekindled his feelings of connection to the campus in Pullman more than 1,200 miles away.
Before college, WSU had been a big part of his life. The Walla Walla boy was a Coach George Raveling fan and often went to Pullman for games and concerts. “It was just kind of a natural progression that I would go to school there,” he says.
After graduation, he moved to Seattle and started his career in marketing. That led to a move to California in 1998, where he is now vice president of client services with a market research firm in San Diego. He’s passionate about golf and cycling, having completed several century rides, as well as enjoying time with his wife Patricia.
That viewing at the ale house led to volunteering with his local alumni chapter, which led to leadership roles and regular trips back to Washington for alumni meetings as well as football and basketball games. In his best year Locati attended nine football games and 22 basketball games.
Through the Alumni Association he found greater involvement with the University as a whole. It has broadened his world of acquaintances to include alumni around the country, campus leaders, students, coaches, and faculty. “There is a great group of people who care about WSU,” he says. “There are a lot of universities where you never get to meet these people. But at WSU, you meet everyone.”
With 500 events a year, the WSUAA can reach as many as 65,000 people. “And I’m not really counting the viewing parties, where the number of attendees doesn’t always get captured,” says Locati. Many want to give back to the school. “We help our alums support the student body with scholarships and connect with student leaders and other alumni for professional opportunities.” As WSUAA president, Locati wants to expand outreach so that younger alumni don’t lose their connection when they leave Pullman and so older alumni are even better served. “We’ve doubled membership over the past 10 years with nearly 30,000 members,” he says. “Now we’re looking to top 40,000.”
“WSU has always been a family,” says Locati. “We help that family bond extend beyond the years on campus.”