This is a story about the Kitsap Sports Hall of Fame’s 2013 Hall of Fame inductees. You’ll be reading more about these folks as the event draws closer. And in the interests of full disclosure, I am on the Kitsap Athletic Roundtable’s Hall of Fame selection committed. My opinions and suggestions have been sought in the past, but this is the first year I’ve actually had a vote in the process. If you would like to nominate someone for consideration, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I’ll make sure that we discuss it at a future meeting.
In the meantime, here’s the Class of 2013 (which won’t be honored until 2014):
The Kitsap Sports Hall of Fame’s latest class includes the winningest unlimited hydroplane driver in the history of the sport, the first athlete from Kitsap County to compete in the Olympics, an outdoorsman who is a noted mountain climber, author and artist, the voice of the Kitsap Stampede and a highly-successful men’s soccer team that paved the way for so many others to enjoy the sport in our area.
The Kitsap Athletic Roundtable’s induction banquet will take place on Jan. 25, 2014, at Kiana Lodge in Poulsbo. The event will start at 11 a.m. Ticket information will be released at a later date.
This will be the 26th Hall of Fame ceremony, but only the ninth year that it has been staged in its present form. Before the Kitsap Oldtimers had been inducting deserving baseball and softball players, coaches, sponsors and umpires. When the Oldtimers disbanded and merged with the KAR, the Hall of fame was expanded to include all sports.
This year’s class is among the most diverse in history.
The hydroplane driver is Dave Villwock, the South Kitsap grad who announced his retirement in May after a legendary career that included 67 victories, 10 of them Gold Cup wins.
Ed Eliason grew up in Poulsbo and became one of the nation’s top archers. He won seven national titles and placed fifth at the Munich Olympics in 1972.
Burley’s Dee Molenaar, 95, is the author of The Challenge of Rainier, considered the definite work on the climbing history of Mount Rainier, where he worked as a park ranger and mountain guide. He climbed Rainier over 50 times and was involved in several other mountaineering expeditions. He was inducted into the American Alpine Club’s Hall of Mountaineering Excellence in 2012.
Randy Corley, who moved to Silverdale from North Platte, Neb., 12 years ago, has been voted the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association’s Announcer of the year 11 times and he has been a fixture at the Kitsap Stampede for over 30 years.
The Bremerton Chuggers — a men’s soccer team — formed in 1974 and played at a very high level until 2000. They made a major impact on the local soccer scene, and Lance McCoy, one of the founding players and primary coach over those years, said the Chuggers are thrilled to be going into Kitsap’s Hall of Fame.
“We’re the first soccer group to ever go in,” McCoy said. “It’s a sport we all cherish and love, and you can’t know what an honor it is to be inducted into this group of incredible athletes. For us, it’s kind of a culmination of 27 years of work.
“… There wasn’t a lot of soccer in this area when we started and to see where it is now, it’s rewarding. So many of our players have given back and are now in the coaching ranks.”
In addition to the Chuggers, two other teams will be inducted: the 1951 Bremerton High football team, which was unbeaten and ranked No. 1 in the state before losing 14-13 to Ballard in the annual Thanksgiving Day game in Seattle and the 1984 Suquamish slowpitch team that won a national championship.
Other athletes and coaches voted in include:
Mark Rill: Former South Kitsap star played on Ed Fisher’s first state playoff team in 1980 and helped the Wolves reach the semifinals in his senior year in 1981. He went on to have a standout career at Pacific Lutheran as an offensive tackle (brother David, already in the Kitsap HOF, was a linebacker at Washington).
Gary Rouse: The Bremerton drag racer made a name for himself in the National Hod Rod Association as one of the top competitors in super stock class, competing in four decades. He was a seven-time world record holder and two-time NHRA Division 6 champion who won the 1987 California Nationals.
Allison Eoff: One of the top competitive female bowlers in Kitsap County history, she’s also been a good ambassador for the sport and handled various administrative roles over the years.
Kerry Keefe: The former Bainbridge basketball star — she averaged 18.6 points her senior year and is the career leader in rebounds for the Spartans — started two years at Georgetown University.
Chris Thorsen: The Central Kitsap grad was one of the best athletes to come out of the area in the mid-1960s, starring in football, basketball and track and field, where he ran a sub-two-minute half-mile.Thorsen earned All-Evergreen Conference honors as a wide receiver at Central Washington, where he was also recruited to play basketball. He was also part of Olympic High’s football coaching staff that helped the Trojans to a 35-1 record and four league titles from 1983-86.
Ernie Hahn: Longtime junior high coach — baseball, football and wrestling — in Port Orchard impacted a lot of lives during his career. He also worked as an assistant football coach at South Kitsap when Ed Fisher was the head man.
Mike Welch: Bainbridge girls’ basketball coach was guy who started the winning tradition for the Spartans. In his first three seasons, Bainbridge placed second, sixth and third at the state tournament.
John Ross: Smart, quick and aggressive, “Rocket” Ross was the leading rusher at West Bremerton High, Olympic College, where he earned honorable mention All-American honors, and at Central Washington, where he rushed for 1,119 yards in two seasons.
Jerome Walker: A state sprint champion in the 100 and 200, the 1978 Bremerton High grad went on to a successful career at one of the elite track and field programs in the country — the University of Oregon. His all-area record in the 200 (21.6 second hand-timed which converts to 21.9) lasted for 35 years.
Bonnie Burmaster: The respected former Olympic Aquatic Club coached worked with youth swimmers in the area for 27 years before retiring in 2009. Among her students: Olympians Tara and Dana Kirk, and Nathan Adrian.
Frankie Lee: One of the top roller hockey players and coaches in U.S. history, Lee was on the U.S. National team from 1984-99, and still coaches the USA Ladies National team that usually includes a handful of players from his Bremerton Hurricanes team.
The Rex Brown Distinguished Service Award will be awarded to the Carlson family, which has owned and operated Minder Meats for 70 years and been huge contributors to the community. The KAR, Special Olympics and Kitsap Stampede are among the organizations they’ve supported for years. Jim Carlson Sr. was among the founding members of the roundtable and is past president. He was an all-state lineman and was a sophomore on the ’51 Bremerton High football team. He played basketball for legendary Hall of Fame coaches Ken Wills (Bremerton) and Phil Pesco (Olympic College). His wife, Maryln (Minder) Carlson was among the first females to join the KAR and remains one of the biggest sports boosters around. Siblings are Jim Carlson, Jr., a past president of the roundtable, Kris (Carlson) Tweten and Steve Carlson.
The Dick Todd Award goes to a sports official and this year’s honoree is Jim Lamont, who got into officiating basketball because of Todd.