Out here, among the rolling hills of the Palouse, generations of rowers have pulled hard.
They’ve learned life lessons on the Snake River, where conditions can change instantaneously and team work is essential. They’ve forged lifelong friendships. They’ve made memories.
Here, a few former WSU oarsmen share theirs.
The Idea Man
Rich Stager (‘74, Civ. Eng.) started his freshman year at WSU Pullman in fall 1970. His parents had recently moved to Pullman; his father had taken a job as a project manager for the construction of Lower Granite Dam.
They came from behind—counting their strokes, catching the Belgian boat, and gliding to gold on California’s Lake Casitas.
Theirs was the first Olympic gold medal in men’s double sculls for the U.S. since 1932. To date, it remains the last medal of any kind for America in that event.
While they took first place, neither had been selected by U.S. Olympic coaches.
Rowing partners Paul Enquist (’77 Mech. Eng.) and Brad Lewis earned their spot at the 1984 Summer Olympics by challenging—and besting—the national team.
“We didn’t take no for an answer,” says Enquist, who—along with Lewis—was cut from the Olympic selection camp.
About three … » More …
Washington State University men’s track and field coach John Chaplin ’63 led the most successful sports program in Cougar history.
The Cougars went undefeated in dual meets nine seasons en route to a 202-17 record during his 21-year tenure. WSU won four Pac-10 outdoor championships, was NCAA runner-up four times outdoors, and claimed the 1977 NCAA indoor championship. Chaplin’s athletes earned 105 All-America certificates and 61 conference titles. Below are just a few of the many athletes he mentored and coached over his years with the program.
Read more about Chaplin and his legacy in “Athlete, coach, winner.”
TUARIKI JOHN DELAMERE: Tuariki “John” Delamere … » More …
Washington State baseball and basketball standout Gene Conley x’50, the only professional athlete to win both a World Series and NBA championship, died July 4, 2017. He was 86.
Conley was a pitcher with the Milwaukee Braves when the team won the World Series in 1957 and he helped the Boston Celtics to three NBA titles from 1959 to 1961. He played against sports legends such as Hank Aaron, Mickey Mantle, Jackie Robinson, and Wilt Chamberlain during an 18-year dual-sport career that also included four All-Star appearances.
At Washington State, where he anchored both the baseball and basketball teams for two seasons before going … » More …
Former Cougar football and NFL standout Steve Gleason ’00, whose battle with ALS has become an international symbol of perseverance and determination, has been named the Regents’ Distinguished Alumnus for 2017.
“Steve Gleason epitomizes the essence of ‘Cougar Spirit,’” said Washington State University President Kirk Schulz at the August 10 ceremony. “His passion to persevere and succeed despite life’s challenges has inspired thousands, not only in the United States, but around the world.”
Gleason helped take WSU to the Rose Bowl in 1997 and in 2006 had a punt-blocking dive for the New Orleans Saints that rallied the hurricane-ravaged city’s down-but-not-out spirit. Five … » More …
It took a while for the guys to start passing her the ball during pickup games at the gym.
Jeanne (Eggart) Helfer ’82 stuck with it, spending much of her free time back in 1977 simply running the length of the basketball court waiting for a chance to show she knew her way around the paint. It was her first semester at Washington State, a few months before she would start setting school records, and Helfer patiently waited for the guys to discover what her older brother and his friends already had learned back in Walla Walla.
That girl can shoot. And pass. And rebound.
… » More …
Nearly two weeks before the Seattle Seahawks won Super Bowl XLVIII, Cindy Kelley was arriving in New York to set up a temporary team headquarters that would become like a cross between a satellite office and a MASH unit.
Kelley ’81 and the rest of the advance crew scrambled to keep up with a schedule measured in hours, not days. Telephones, computers, office space, accommodations, meals, air and ground transportation, special events, family activities—all needing to be arranged immediately.
“The whole goal is to make sure there are no distractions for the players and coaches,” says Kelley, vice president for human resources for the » More …
Long before he was elected to the New Zealand Parliament, served as immigration minister, and held other national cabinet positions, Tuariki “John” Delamere ’74 was a long jumper with an attention-grabbing technique.
Delamere, a fixture on Washington State’s track team in the early 1970s, didn’t invent The Flip. But he so excelled at the leaping mid-air forward somersault it sometimes seemed as if he had.
His style was so gravity-defyingly smooth that when Sports Illustrated wanted to learn more about The Flip, and the debate that would eventually lead to the technique’s prohibition, the magazine sent a crew to the 1974 national qualifiers to … » More …