Myklebust Gymnasium was a bit busier than usual on Wednesday night. In addition to hosting a doubleheader of men’s and women’s basketball games against NWAC rival Centralia, the Lower Columbia University Athletics Hall of Fame officially enshrined six inductees as the class of 2022 to be remembered for their accomplishments. in competition and in life.
Baseball standout Rob Colley, athletic trainer Ed Earnest, two sports stars Steve Sweet and veteran scorer/bus driver Rick Boudreau were on hand to see their names permanently etched in the Red Devils’ history books.
Softball standout Janessa Brindza (Roening) was also inducted into the LCC Hall of Fame, but was unable to attend the ceremony in person. Former track coach Chuck Byers was also posthumously inducted into the Hall of Fame.
Members, their families, and close friends would normally receive a formal banquet to celebrate their accomplishments with the community, but due to COVID-19 guidelines, plans were modified with the intention of properly honoring the new Hall of Fame.
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A private ceremony was held in the Stoller Athletic Center’s luxury box during the evening’s basketball games for select family and friends. At halftime of the men’s game, the new members were announced to the crowd and presented their hall of fame plaques.
The new class of hall of famers rightfully includes some faces familiar to the Red Devils faithful. For Sweet and Earnest, it was a family affair, as Sweet joined her brother, Rick, in the hallway and Earnest joined her father, Gary.
Earnest and Sweet usually work LCC games, with Sweet operating the scoreboard and Earnest serving as the team’s athletic trainer since 2000. Sweet was given the night off from the Hall of Fame to enjoy the festivities, but Earnest was still there. for the players, bandaging the ankles. and working on adjustments and injuries throughout the night.
“I love my job,” said Earnest, happy to continue working despite the ceremony.
Earnest’s ties to the program go back to his childhood, when his father was a coach and athletic director in college.
“I grew up as a 10-year-old who would come to games and stay after games to shoot baskets,” Earnest said. “That’s all I lived for as a kid.”
Earnest went on to play basketball for the Red Devils in the mid-’80s before returning to athletics coaching duties.
“I wanted to pursue a sports career, so I chose sports medicine and was lucky enough to get a job back in my hometown and be a part of the program I grew up with,” Earnest said.
Earnest said he has spent more than half his life at Myklebust Gym, something he appreciates very much.
“It was a great experience growing up in a home and being able to be a part of LCC,” she said. “There is no other college in the Northwest that I would have dreamed of playing for. This is one of the best programs in the entire Northwest.”
He now officially sits alongside his father in the hall of fame not only for his contributions as a player, but also for his time serving past, present and future athletes in the LCC.
“It’s a great honour,” he said. “When they first told me about it a couple of months ago, I thought, ‘What have I really done? He wasn’t a great player.’”
Sweet has also spent a lot of time at The Bust. He played baseball and basketball for the Red Devils and has now spent the last 25 years leading the score in home games.
“I have the best seat in the house, it’s a nice padded seat,” Sweet said with a laugh. “It keeps me involved in the game instead of just being a spectator in the stands.”
Sweet said being remembered among some of the many players he’s seen in the LCC is a big part of the honor.
“That’s the thing with me, just having my name on the Hall of Fame wall,” Sweet said. “That means a lot to me. I’ve seen a lot of these great players come through here before and after me.”
Joining his brother, a minor league baseball manager long after his playing career ended, among the ranks of LCC legends truly brings home the achievement.
“It really makes it (makes it more special),” he said. “And it was special for (Rick). He was so excited for me when I told him about it and the first thing he did was write it down in his diary.”
Badge in hand, the weight of the moment finally began to sink in for the two-sport star who played his high school ball in Mark Morris’s parking lot.
“I was shocked,” he said. “It made my eyes water and I felt very honored. I hadn’t really assimilated. I didn’t think February 2 would ever come, but here it is.”
Sweet praised the academics at LCC, but said all people need to do to see the best parts of Lower Columbia College is look up.
“I think the banners on the rafters tell the story of what’s so special about this place,” he said. “They run a great program and it’s not just the athletics that are so great here.”
Rob Colley is a perfect example of the opportunities LCC can bring. A Tenino High School graduate, Colley brought his baseball talents to David Story Field, where he made a name for himself hitting over .500 in his sophomore season and was named NWAC MVP.
“It’s hard to tell someone you hit .500 and be taken seriously,” Colley said.
Colley then finished his college career at Oregon State playing for Pat Casey, proving that LCC may be the perfect place to earn a spot at the Division I level.
The honor provided a particular sense of closure for Colley after his career didn’t end the way he hoped.
“I feel like the way my career ended was a bit of a fall from grace,” he said. “I had a hand injury that let my momentum stop. No pitcher stopped my momentum, the only person who stopped me was me.”
Now, his accomplishments have come full circle and immortalized him in Red Devil history.
“I realized in the last two weeks that my soul really needed this,” he said. “They’ve been fantastic for that and I can’t thank them enough.”
Although Colley spent most of his time on the diamond, the inside of the gym was also a special place for him.
“The first job I ever had was in this gym manning the shot clock and scoreboard during the (Jim) Roffler years,” he said.
Colley remembered how she enjoyed being so close to the energetic coach on the sidelines.
“It was worth the price of admission alone,” Colley said.
Colley’s journey provides a blueprint for current and future LCC players, and he provided some sage advice on how to further their careers.
“Get out there,” he said. “I think with social media these days and the internet, it’s a lot easier. Take videos of yourself, send them to coaches and don’t be afraid to send 50 emails to 50 different coaches…it’s like a job interview.”
Boudreau may not have donned the red and blue uniform for the Red Devils, but his time with the show dates back to the ’60s.
“When I got off duty, I came and went back to school and I met Gary Earnest and he came and dragged me out of the stands at Olympic to take the score to him,” Boudreau said. “So I started taking scores as a volunteer and then he put this job together for me driving the bus.”
Boudreau drove the bus from the time the job was created in the ’80s until he retired in 2010. Having seen numerous LCC games, his favorite part was shadowing the athletes as they made a name for themselves in the community.
“It’s a lot of local (players),” Boudreau said. “We have a lot of kids from Mark Morris, Kelso, RA Long, so it’s good that we keep it in the neighborhood.”
Boudreau recalled some of the stories he had from his time with the show. To tell everyone, he said “we’d be here next week”, but he spoke of one who rose to the top.
When LCC programs used to travel to Hawaii every other year to play, the Air Force would send a bus to take them to their game at the Air Force Base. But once the games were over, the Air Force bus driver was nowhere to be found. Fortunately, Boudreau was the perfect man to take over the pilot duties and ensured that the players returned safely.
“I ended up driving back,” he said. “I had to take an Air Force guy with me to teach him how to drive the bus so he could take it back.”
Despite their absence, Byers and Brindza still had their moments to shine at the ceremony. Byers’ daughter, Ronda Howard, accepted the plaque on his behalf and LCC athletic director Kirc Roland accepted it on Brindza’s behalf.
Byers was a longtime jack of all trades for LCC. He was an athletic trainer and helped keep LCC’s record books accurate and up-to-date year after year. He is also a member of Seattle Pacific University and the RA Long High School Hall of Fame.
Brindza was a power hitter from the left-handed batter’s box on the dirt for the Red Devils and won back-to-back titles with the LCC in 2003 and 2004, including a tournament MVP, before playing for the University. from Missouri. She met her husband Will while attending LCC.