Sept. 21, 2007
The Eastern Washington University athletic department is set to honor six individuals and two teams at the Eastern Athletics Hall of Fame induction ceremonies on Sept. 29 in Cheney, Wash.
Upwards of 200 guests are expected for a 10 a.m. reception and ceremony at the Pence Union Building on the EWU campus. Persons interested in attending should send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org or call 509-359-2463 or 359-6334 by Wednesday, Sept. 26.
Five individuals and two teams will comprise the eighth class of inductees into the Hall of Fame, which was established in 1996. This year's inductees will bring to the total number of individuals in the Hall of Fame to 40 and teams to five. More information may be found at: http://goeags.cstv.com/hallfame.
The new inductees include All-America cross country and track standout Kari McKay, record-setting All-West Coast fullback Meriel Michelson (inducted posthumously) and former gymnastics coach and long-time supporter Thorne Tibbitts.
The other two individual inductees were members of Eastern's highly-successful volleyball program in the late 90's -- player Kim Exner and her coach Pamela Parks, who has been a fixture for more than 30 years in the Eastern athletic department.
Two teams will also be inducted as Eastern celebrates the 25th anniversary of the school's 1982 NCAA Division II cross country title and the 30th anniversary of the 1977 NAIA wrestling championship. About six members of the wrestling squad are expected to return, as well as head coach Curt Byrnes. All seven of the scoring members of the championship cross country team and about a half-dozen of their teammates are expected to be on hand, as well as head coach and individual Hall of Fame member Jerry Martin.
In addition to the inductees, John Lothspeich is being honored as the first recipient of the Eastern Athletics Hall of Fame Service and Contribution Award. The award has been created to recognize extraordinary achievements and contributions by individuals with a past association with the Eastern athletic department. This award, selected by the Eastern Athletics Hall of Fame Executive Committee, seeks to honor individuals who have contributed not only to EWU, but to other outside endeavors such as education, community service and coaching.
Recipients will also be honored at the volleyball match against Northern Arizona that starts at 1 p.m. at Reese Court, and EWU's football game with Portland State that begins at 6:05 p.m. at Woodward Field.
The induction is part of the All Athletes Reunion and Hall of Fame Weekend at EWU. More information may obtained at: http://www.ewu.edu/x49735.xml.
More on the Inductees . . .
McKay was an All-American in the 10,000 meters at the 1992 NCAA Track & Field Championships and also made two appearances at the NCAA Cross Country Championships. The graduate of nearby Almira (Wash.) High School went on to a successful road-racing running career, including a string of six-straight years as the top area female finisher at the annual Lilac Bloomsday race.
Michelson held the school's career rushing record for nearly 40 years. He finished with 2,517 yards, including the school's first 1,000-yard season as he led Eastern to 29 victories and three conference titles. He had 1,049 in 1950 when he led the nation in rushing and was selected to the United Press Little All-West Coast team. Michelson, who was a counselor and teacher in Pasco, Wash., for more than 30 years, passed away recently on July 18 after a battle with lung cancer.
Tibbitts has been recognized as one of 34 "pioneers" of the sport of gymnastics in the State of Washington. He coached Eastern to a second-place finish at the 1965 NAIA Championships, and helped lay the groundwork for the school's future success in that sport. He has been a fixture in Cheney ever since, and has been a huge supporter and contributor to the athletic department.
Exner led Eastern to 46 victories in her last two seasons (1997 and 1998), including a NCAA Tournament berth and co-Big Sky Conference title. Twice she was the league's MVP and earned All-Region VIII honors as she finished her career with school and Big Sky records for kills (1,860). Formerly from Vernon, B.C., she is married to former Eastern and current Washington State assistant football coach Timm Rosenbach.
Parks began her legacy at Eastern as a volleyball player, then won 291 matches in 18 seasons as the school's head coach. In her tenure, Eastern had six 20 victory seasons, won two Big Sky Conference regular season titles, one BSC tournament title and advanced to three NCAA Tournaments. She remains on staff as an associate athletic director.
Lothspeich, 84, played basketball at Eastern in the 40's, and spent nearly 20 years as an administrator on the campus in Cheney, Wash. A 1948 Eastern Washington graduate and former basketball player under the legendary W.B "Red" Reese, Lothspeich was a member of three Eastern teams that advanced to the NAIA Tournament.
Lothspeich has spent his lifetime as an advocate of education and, most recently, fellow retired persons. He has been a leader for civic engagement and public policy advocacy in Eastern Washington, and has been justly honored for his efforts.
In 2005, he received the Washington State AARP Andrus Award for Community Service. It is the most prestigious award given to volunteers, and symbolizes that individuals have the power and ability to make a difference in the lives of others.
Lothspeich's older brother Bill, who is 87, will also return on Sept. 29 for the reception/ceremony. Bill and John were teammates at Eastern in the 1942-43 season.