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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

LaToya Harris ’03—Standing out

When coach LaToya Harris stands with her team on the volleyball court at Lewis-Clark State College, here’s the remarkable thing: She doesn’t stand out.

Sure, she is the only one wearing black crop pants instead of blue shorts and a white tee, but, suddenly it hits you—this is the woman who tallied 1,459 kills during her WSU career and still holds the record for service aces.

Her Cougar teammates voted her the team’s most valuable player in 2000, 2001, and 2002, and she remains the only WSU player to ever earn that award three times. In 1999, as a freshman, she was an honorable … » More …

Fall 2003

Brayton has his day in the sun, as WSU retires his number

Dan Wodrich couldn’t attend Bobo Brayton’s banquet. He wanted to be there when Washington State University honored its winningest coach May 24 by retiring baseball jersey  no. 14. He played second base for Brayton in 1977-80, fulfilling a dream he had growing up in Kennewick. But on the day of the banquet, Wodrich, his wife, and three daughters were attending the funeral of a 13-year-old girl, a friend of the family.

Sometimes life throws you a curve.

Not one to let Brayton’s milestone pass without comment, Wodrich (’81 Mech. Engr., ’83 M.S. Mech. Engr.) sent a letter. Brayton shared parts of it with the 225 … » More …

Fall 2003

Richardson era ends with her best

“Someone like her only comes along once a career.” —Rick Sloan

Ellannee Richardson had just run the race of her life: a blistering 800-meter time of 2 minutes, 12.04 seconds, a personal record, in the final event of the heptathlon at June’s NCAA Track and Field Championships in Sacramento.

It should have been enough for Richardson, a redshirt senior at Washington State University, to win her first NCAA title.

But in the world of track and field, you can never fully control what anyone else does. And as Richardson caught her breath, just 13 seconds after she crossed the line, her dream ended.

Needing … » More …

Fall 2003

Dick Bennett's mantra: "Play hard, smart, and together"

In more than three decades of coaching, Dick Bennett has developed a simple philosophy about basketball. It’s a team game.

“Once players understand and embrace that concept, basketball becomes simple-at both ends of the floor,” he says.” Viewed strictly as an individual showcase, it becomes more difficult. There is room for individual play to shine within the team framework, but in Bennett’s scheme of things, “we” takes precedence over “me.”

Listening to Washington State University’s new basketball boss talk about the game, one learns about the sport and the man. He’s as much a student of the game as he is a teacher/coach. He … » More …

Summer 2004

WSU Hall of Fame adds 5 who excelled

Carol Gordon

On February 21, the day of her induction into Washington State University’s Athletic Hall of Fame, Carol Gordon offered a silent prayer. That evening she shared her petition with 180 guests at the induction banquet in the Compton Union Building.

“Please let me speak before George [Raveling],” the longtime WSU professor, coach, and administrator said. Her comment drew a rousing ovation from the audience, including Raveling himself. The charismatic Cougar basketball coach from 1972-83 would speak later. Olympic gold medallist Julius Korir; Linda Williams Sheridan, Spokane prep coaching legend; and football All-America Mike Utley were the other honorees.

Gordon championed women’s athletics at … » More …

Spring 2006

Kelly Smith

You don’t want to be around him when he loses…

Kelly Smith harbors such desire to win, that the coach gets testy for days before an ordinary baseball game. From the first pitch to the last, he’s usually demonstrative, typically pessimistic, and occasionally combative. Along the baseline, his eyes seem to radiate heat while his mouth hurls verbal spears.

If you only encountered Smith at the ballpark, you might see why he playfully describes his diamond demeanor with a term that won’t appear in this article.

“I think ‘intense’ is a nicer term,” offered Smith (’80 Ed., Soc. Stud.), a former Cougar star who became … » More …