Earlier this month, the Washington Interscholastic Activities Association held its 2015-2016 Half of Fame Class Induction Ceremony at a luncheon in Renton.
Among those inducted were Megan (Franza) Carson (Cascade HS, Leavenworth), Kasey Keller (North Thurston HS), Ugar Taner (Newport HS, Bellevue) among the athletes; Brcuce Gutgesell (Juanita HS) and Joel Underwood (Seattle Academy) in the fine arts; Greg Brashear (Garfield HS), Jan Kirk (Fife HS) and Dan White (Easmont HS) for coaches; and Cindy C-Wilson for officials.
Among the contributor inducted were John Crawford, Dick Langum, Seattle Times prep writer Sandy Ringer and Puyallup High graduate Jim Meyerhoff Sr.
This was a wonderful opportunity the WIAA provided in honor of some fine individuals who deserved all the accolades they achieved.
For me personally, it was an honor to see someone like Sandy Ringer being rewarded for all the hard work and all the stories she wrote that conveyed both the game being played as well as the intricate details of the deeper story on the people involved.
Ringer was the first reporter I met in the field, covering a soccer match at Federal Way Memorial Stadium. It was the first of many friendly encounters over the years, although I can be aloof during game coverage (to say the least).
Jim Meyerhoff Sr. represented another — a greater reason for being inducted. Even though it’s the Meyerhoff way to deflect credit, this induction was one he could not deflect away from himself.
“I felt I’ve been so lucky. People don’t understand what I had as a role models at Puyallup High School,” Meyerhoff said. “I had George Wilfong at Kallas (Junior High) … once I got to (Puyallup), Dean Nicholson as the boys basketball coach. His assistant was (Rich) Hammermaster. The head football coach was Bob Ryan. My wrestling coach was Ray Barnes, who was (also) an assistant coach (for Ryan).
“People like Dick Pruitt, Stew Harshman was the track coach. Jerry Joyce came — I mean it never stops. All of those coaches are Hall of Fame coaches. And that’s what I had for role models.”
A graduate of Puyallup High and the University of Puget Sound (1966-1970), Meyerhoff has had one of the greatest impacts on Washington high school wrestling ever since his coaching career began in 1970 at my former school, Ballou.
One of Meyerhoff’s greatest accomplishments came through his efforts in starting the state’s Girls State Wrestling Championships almost a decade ago.
“I wanted to go into the Air Force, coming from a military family, and I received an athletic full ride (in college). I also received a ROTC full ride, and that’s when I sat down with Bob Ryan to discuss my opportunities.” Meyerhoff said. “He said, ‘You have the ability to help a lot of people.’ And so I chose to stay in the educational road instead of going into the military.
“It went on to coaching, officiating (and) after 30 years, I was able to (make it to) the WIAA staff. That was an opportunity to do something like the state’s athletic director. I can work with everybody and try to make an impact.”
Meyerhoff’s passion for the sport and improving the lives around him have created a strong family environment in the local wrestling community.
“We’ve accomplished a lot,” Meyerhoff said. “We started girls wrestling, and that is the third-largest in the country.”
One that is in a state of constant growth.