Mark Schuster (’95 Busi.) is a collector of all things Coug.
His garage—read: 1,600-square-foot man cave—is “like a Coug museum,” covered with Washington State University memorabilia. And he’s always on the lookout for more.
He knew he had stumbled upon something special when he found an online listing for George Raveling’s 1976 West Coast Coach of the Year plaque. So he reached out to the seller to learn how he had acquired the plaque and see whether he had any more WSU-related items.
The self-described “die-hard Coug” was in luck. “This was the first item (of many) that was listed,” says Schuster, who played football for the Cougs after the famed basketball coach had already left WSU. Raveling made history as the first Black head basketball coach at WSU and in the Pac-8 (now Pac-12).
As president of the Washington State University Alumni Association, Schuster chairs the WSUAA’s board of directors and executive committee. From 2006 to 2007, he spearheaded the “Quarterback U” fundraiser, generating more than $100,000 for the Schuster Family Endowment. He’s vice president of global manufacturing at Lamb Weston, North America’s premier potato company. His wife, Janet (’95 Ed.), is a Coug. So are her parents, Joy (’67 Ed.) and Jack (’66 Ed.) Glover.
Schuster learned last spring the online seller of Raveling’s plaque had bought the contents of a storage unit at auction, acquiring boxes of the coach’s memorabilia—from his high school diploma and Coach of the Year awards from the Pac-8 and Pac-10, to warm-up jackets from his time as an assistant coach on medal-winning Olympic basketball teams in 1984 and 1988. When Schuster heard this, he knew he had to get his hands on it—all of it—so he could give the items back to Coach, as Schuster and others refer to Raveling.
“As a collector, this was a jackpot,” he says. “But this was more than that. This was a Coug looking out for another Coug.”
Schuster purchased the 30-plus items in May 2022. Around the time the boxes arrived at his Richland home, he reached out to WSU Athletics to see about how he might go about getting in touch with Raveling, now 85 and retired.
Raveling called him right back. He had, Schuster learned, not intended to let the storage unit and its contents go. After some back-and-forth, they arranged to meet in person. Schuster flew to Los Angeles on Friday night, with a return trip Sunday morning. Saturday, he met Raveling in a hotel lobby in downtown Los Angeles.
His checked luggage—all of Raveling’s things—weighed in at just under a hundred pounds.
One by one, over the course of several hours, they went through all the items—programs, pennants, framed team photos, ID badges, more awards. Each sparked memories. Coach started telling stories, sharing anecdotes about players, basketball, leadership, family, WSU, the Olympics.
Schuster, with permission, recorded their conversation. He wanted to preserve the audio to help him remember and relish their meeting—and its unusual circumstances.
“Strange how things happen in life,” Coach told him. “The chances of this happening are one in a million. The WSU connection is even more incredible. If we were to write a script, we couldn’t get a better story than the one we have.”
Schuster agrees. “I’m a collector, but there’s nothing I could have physically that was better than that. I’m a better person for having spent time with him. And I consider myself very fortunate to be the one who found that first item online and to be able give them all back to the amazing Coug that earned them over his historic career.”