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Athletics

Stronger may not be better
Fall 2013

Stronger may not be better

A pack of seventh grade soccer players huddles around a makeshift batting cage inside WSU’s Sports Science Laboratory one Friday last March. One by one, they step inside the black netting to stand under bright lights and high-speed cameras.

 

“3 … 2 … 1,” a voice calls out.

An air-pressurized cannon shoots a soccer ball 30 feet across the cage and the 13-year-old tries to head the ball back in the direction from which it came.

The purpose of such madness? Kasee Hildenbrand, associate professor in the College of Education, is exploring the roll the neck plays in the incidence of concussions.

Her … » More …

Marcus Capers, 2012
Fall 2012

Marcus Capers ’12—What it means to be a Coug

Marcus Capers wanted to make his place in the game of basketball. Now, after a four-year career at Washington State University, his workman-like attitude has forever etched his name into the Cougar record book.

In sports circles, Capers is referred to as the iron man, a distinction reserved for those rare players who have played more, or stayed with the game longer, than anyone else. Officially, the Cougar guard appeared in 135 games over his four years, an accomplishment that tops the previous record set by George Hamilton more than 60 years ago. It’s a WSU record enriched by two years of post-season tournaments and … » More …

John E. Olerud speaks at WSU
Summer 2012

John E. Olerud ’65—Science is a lot like baseball

Whether he’s studying how wounds heal or he’s tagging a runner out at home plate, John E. Olerud ’65 knows two techniques to succeed: work hard and stick with it.

Olerud credits those lessons to the man who recruited him to Washington State University’s baseball team, Chuck “Bobo” Brayton. “He was one of those guys who taught you a lot of lessons about life, not just baseball,” he says.

The lessons learned have led to achievements on the diamond—as catcher and captain of the 1965 Cougar baseball team that played in the College World Series, and as a professional player for seven years—and in academia, … » More …

Mikal Thomsen
Summer 2012

Scoring position: A man buys his hometown team

In the 1970s, when Mikal Thomsen ’79 was a budding business student at WSU, he earned his tuition by compiling the stats for the football, basketball, and baseball teams. The job not only let him parlay an interest in numbers and sports into an entertaining occupation, it gave him free admission to all the games. With primo seats. During the football season, he had a bird’s-eye view from the press box. During baseball, he travelled with the team as the official scorer.

Thomsen liked being in the thick of things, following the minutiae of the games, getting a sense of the players. Today, as a … » More …

A pair of Tom Jager's Olympic medals
Spring 2012

Let him swim: The Tom Jager story

On a Friday evening in August 1989, Tom Jager is about to race in a 50-meter freestyle event at the U.S. National Championships in Los Angeles.

The race marks the return of Olympic gold medalist Matt Biondi, who dueled with Jager in the same event at the 1988 Olympic Games less than a year earlier.

The capacity crowd of 2,500 is settling in for what promises to be a memorable race when Jager is called for a false start and disqualified, though TV replays indicate otherwise.

Jager’s reaction is immortalized in a New York Times photo taped to his Gibb Pool office window. His arms … » More …

Winter 2011

Sabermetrics As Told By The Simpsons

Between the book Moneyball and the movie “Moneyball,” there was the 2010 Simpsons episode “MoneyBART,” which introduced 6 million or so people to the artist Banksy, who wrote the opening sequence. Less celebrated is the fact that the show introduced many people to the concept of sabermetrics.

A viewer’s guide to the episode can go a long way in explaining some of the fundamental notions of baseball’s most exuberantly rational side.

First, the quick plot summary:

Lisa Simpson needs an extracurricular activity to pad her application to Yale, so she signs on to coach Bart’s Little League team, the … » More …

Winter 2011

Timeline: John Olerud’s Baseball Career

“When I made up the lineup, I always put Ole [John Olerud] in the third spot—where you want your best all-around player—and filled in around him,” says WSU baseball coach Bobo Brayton. “He led the world in everything.”

On the rare occasion when Ole faltered a little on the mound, Bobo would visit the big lefthander with words of advice: “Remember you are John Olerud. There’s no one better.” He was named national College Player of the Year in 1988.
—from Washington State Magazine, Summer 2002

WSU

1987

Hit .414 with 5 HR and 20 RBIs. As a pitcher, he went 8-2 with … » More …