Beasley Coliseum was completed in 1973 for $8 million. To celebrate its fiftieth year, Washington State Magazine asked readers to share their favorite memories of the iconic event space via email and Facebook.
Grew up on College Hill in Pullman
(I remember) the hill that was there with married student housing, and we would ski down the backside across to the golf course to ski on the old No. 9 hole circa 1953 or so.
Retired staff, former parent
Summer 1970. Scale model of the upcoming coliseum in the Johnson Hall main entrance atrium display case.
Bev Stubbles (’70 Ed.)
Holy cow! Makes ME feel old! I graduated BEFORE it was built, and I’ve never been in it although I have seen it, so I always consider it the NEW coliseum. There’s a good chuckle there somewhere!
Jackie L. Randall (’73 Phys. Ed.)
Our graduation of the class of 1973 was the first event in brand new Beasley! Hurray for Golden Grads!
Ed Jackson (’75 Comm.)
Fifty years ago, I helped to break in Beasley Coliseum. Like Bohler Gymnasium, it was the centerpiece for friends and future friends. My freshman roommate, John Wagner (’75 Busi.) from Harrington, stopped playing when we moved to Beasley, but we still remained friends. Going to a basketball game or concerts in the new structure was a first-class event.
Paul Allen (x’74) would go to the games, and after we would meet up at our RA, Randy Brown (’74 Ag.) of Mount Vernon, and Joe Cardoza (’72 Poli. Sci.), who later became chief Judge in Maui, for siamin noodles and cuddle fish cooked in the popcorn popper.
After our junior year, we didn’t see much of Paul, because he discovered the computer lab and spent most of his time there.
My graduation was the third held in the Coliseum. As Sammy Miller (’71 Busi.) , a teammate, walked me to my position, wearing my cap and gown. As we passed HillTopics editor Pat Caraher (’62 Comm.), my idol Keith Lincoln (’64 Phys. Ed.), who actually asked me to be on the alumni board and who I watched when he was in LA Charger, and the late Roger C. Wiley, chairman of men’s Physical Education, they gave me a triple take as I walked by in my gown. Son Brad Wiley (’75 Rec., ’78 Phys. Ed.) of Pullman, I met playing on the last CougBabes basketball team. The next year freshmen became eligible to play varsity.
During the basketball season, I was in there six to seven times a week, usually practice or games. I was even at the inaugural basketball event with the NBA exhibition game between Seattle and Portland on September 25, 1973. I came across a picture of our basketball team posing at that event, while I was looking through the archives of Washington State University collection. Haven’t been able to find the picture since that time.
I was thrilled seeing and talking with two friends that I looked up to playing that evening: UCLA champion Walt Hazzard and Sydney Wicks.
Walt took me out to dinner. He said order anything on the menu. An impressive menu but I was so nervous I chose cheapest thing: a cheese toast. But I said ham-and-cheese toast, and Walt said, “What’s wrong with you? Trying to make me look bad? I am now (Mahdi) Abdul Rahman. We (Muslims) don’t eat pork.” Needless to say, I only had a cheese toast.
Sydney Wicks would always show up at high school track meets to make sure we didn’t beat his high-jump record. He went to Hamilton High School. Pat Caraher wrote a story of how we reconstructed the school with the help of 20th Century Fox and ITT International.
I remember a Stevie Wonder concert with my Westwood Village high school buddy from vocational band with singer Lorna Luft, Marc Modica. Marc, a former WSU student, is now a professor at University of Virginia’s Darden School of Business.
Many basketball game memories, but what I really remember was Coach (George) Raveling running us after practice rolling a ball from the east side of the coliseum to the west side, and we had to chase after the ball and dive on it as we spit-fired into the free-throw lane. That exercise is still used today because you can win a lot of games when you jump on that ball making it pop up. Analogy I’ve learned in life about pouncing on your opportunities. Thank you, Coach.
It was fun seeing my All-American cousin from the U-Dub, Louie Nelson, coming over and playing on the brand new coliseum. We talk about it even today. And how he tried to convince me in a pick-up game with Larry Hollifield to come play with him following the coach that recruited me, Marv Harshman.
I remember the late Steve Puidokas (’77 English) hit the next largest forward on the team, 239-pound 6-foot, 8-inch Ricky Brown, with his elbow, and the player sat on the floor, saying, “Who am I? Where am I,” repeating (it) over and over. After that, I stayed away from his elbows.
The last game I went to in the coliseum, Cal Berkeley versus Cougs . I sat behind the Cal bench because my buddy from my high school days, Ben Braun, allowed me after my last WSU Alumni Executive Board of Directors meeting, in 2004-2005.
My experience on board was amazing. First year we played in the Rose Bowl after a six-decade absence. We played one more time in the Rose Bowl and two other bowl games in the seven years I was on the board, which doubled the amount of times we have gone the bowl games in the history of our Coug history, at that time.
I have many, many stories to tell about my time in the coliseum. Coach Raveling believed in making us run after practice if we lost a game so that we would think twice when we’re tired and reach a little deeper at the game moment instead of running when you’re tired after practice until the next game.
He thought it got easier to lose if we didn’t have incentives.
Love this, from the November 1975 alumni magazine: “When some 80 WSU male students were temporarily housed in the Performing Arts Coliseum earlier this fall, they dubbed the facility the ‘Cougar Hilton.’ To be certain the Hilton Corp. had no objection, WSU Housing Director Bill Bierbaum wrote the firm. He received this reply: ‘While legal limitations prevent our granting Washington State University the official use of the name ‘Hilton,’ you may accept this letter as Hilton’s assurance that it will make no issue of the University’s temporary and informal use of the ‘Cougar Hilton’ designation for the temporary housing facility in your Coliseum.’”
Rosemary Yocum (’80 Bacterio.)
In response to Mark O’English: Wow! That was just a year before I started at WSU! I’m glad it got sorted out by the time I arrived.
Linda Steiner (’76 Home Econ.)
I remember the Joe Walsh concert there with friends.
Tom Pounds (’81 Elec. Eng.)
“The Godfather” of Ol’ Crimson
I don’t think I missed a single men’s basketball game during my time at WSU (1976-1981), including watching one of the greatest upsets of all time vs No. 1 UCLA, but my favorite story is when I worked as part of the local TV remote crew.
I had my radiotelephone license so I could work at KWSU-TV as the operator on the weekends. Occasionally, I would be asked to help with a remote broadcast of a basketball game, in the remote truck. The full-time chief engineer (I cannot recall his name) was colorblind. This is not such a great asset when it comes to setting up a color TV camera.
Chief engineer would do all he could to set up the cameras, but would then rely on my eyesight to do the final adjustment. I would walk onto the corner of the court and stare into the tartan floor until that color was burned into my brain, then I would go back to the remote truck and tweak the color balance on the cameras to match the floor. It turns out that flesh colors were among the hardest to reproduce with that technology (camera tubes called plumbicons), and the tartan floor was certainly flesh colored. I was proud of myself for being able to get the cameras to faithfully reproduce that. If you can get the flesh tone, then every other color would be near perfect.
Trevor Hall (’82 Math)
Watching the 1979 Cougs beat UCLA: “Briiiian Riiiiiiiison!!!!”
Greg Salo (’82 Elect. Eng.)
Watching Cougar basketball with George Raveling as coach during my Cougar Marching Band years, 1979-1982. Earth, Wind & Fire concert. Little River Band concert.
Carl Wommack (’88 Gen. Stud.)
I worked on the tech crew while I was in school. Got to set up for Metallica, Aerosmith, Def Leppard, Garth Brooks, Tina Turner, and others. It was a great job while I was in school.
Sarah English (’94 Comm., ’95 Elem. Ed., ’96 MEd)
Sustainer Program Manager
Northwest Public Broadcasting
Beasley Coliseum and I are both 50 years young in 2023! What’s even more special is that Beasley Coliseum is the setting of my enduring—and endearing-—relationship with Butch. We met at a basketball game in the spring of 1992 and are still going strong almost 32 years later. Photos from our first meeting and most recent Beasley date, for the first round of the NIT tournament this past March.
Courtesy Sarah English
Jim Ruddy (’95 Comm.)
Beating USC in basketball for the first time in a long time, and when I graduated.
From the archives: “A magnet for entertainment—Beasley celebrates 30th anniversary”