PORT ANGELES — Two classes of the Port Angeles Roughrider Hall of Fame came together at Civic Field to share memories, renew their ties to the community and most of all to each other.
In the largest dinner in Port Angeles history, 650 people got together in an outdoor venue. The 2020 and 2021 classes were combined since the dinner was canceled last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The venue was moved under an outdoor tent at Civic Field in light of the continuing pandemic.
The dinner raised $45,000 for the Port Angeles High School athletic department through raffles and auctions.
The theme of the night was how sports and the high school continue to bring the community together.
“There’s 650 people here tonight. The most important reason we’re here tonight is bringing together families of Port Angeles high School. A lot of friendships are being rekindled tonight,” said Hall of Fame organizer Bruce Skinner.
“I think we’re privileged to live in a community that supports wholeheartedly all the activities. It’s a special place,” said 2021 inductee Jan Urfer, who coached gymnastics for 25 years at Port Angeles High School and is already in the Washington State Gymnastics Hall of Fame.
Dr. Roger Oakes, a longtime team physician for Roughrider sports, was inducted in the 2021 class.
“The bit of irony is my athletic career ended after the sixth grade,” Oakes said. He said the event was also on the night of his wife’s 80th birthday.
“There’s no better way to spend it,” he said.
Bob Sheedy was a longtime track and field coach for the Riders. He was part of the 2020 class that had to wait a year for their dinner.
“It’s been a pleasure to coach and teach at Port Angeles High School. I wouldn’t give it up for anything,” he said. Sheedy was especially proud of all the girls he had coached as the girls’ track coach. Until 1976, there was no girls’ track team at the school. That was the year Title IX gave equal access to sports for girls.
“We [Sheedy and Bill Tiderman] have coached every track and field girl in the history of Port Angeles,” Sheedy said. “I’m a little slow on the uptake. I didn’t realize girls were so good.”
Randy Steinman was inducted both as a player and a coach. He was a star baseball player for the Riders, then went on to coach both the baseball team and the softball team. He thanked his family for “giving up normal vacations to stay in motels and dusty fields” for summer traveling baseball teams.
Steinman, currently the softball coach at Port Angeles, also acknowledged his players.
“They’re amazing athletes, excellent students and future Hall of Famers,” he said.
Matt Lane, a star baseball player who went on to play at the University of Washington, was inducted as part of the 2020 class. He thanked Steinman for getting the most out of his players and having the smarts to bat Lane second in the lineup. “Batting me second? I’m slow. I’m a catcher, my knees hurt,” he said. But, by surrounding him with good players, Steinman created all kinds of headaches by putting the .700 hitter second.
Janessa Roening who was a softball star for the Riders and was inducted in the 2020 class, thanked her family.
“I’m not sure I could count on one hand all the games that [her grandparents] missed,” she said.
‘Figure it out’
Cherie Simkins was inducted as part of the 2020 class both for her accomplishments at Port Angeles and beyond. Simkins is part of the badminton heritage at PAHS and won national badminton titles in 1962 as a doubles player. She later went on to win 18 Ironman triathlon races and 13 world triathlon championships. She later founded a group for at-risk kids in San Bernardino, Calif., using triathlons as a means to keep kids out of trouble.
Simkins said that when she was at Port Angeles High School, there weren’t a lot of opportunities for girls to play sports. There was the town’s powerhouse badminton program run by the legendary Vern Burton. Simkins said she just showed up one day to try badminton and that Burton immediately threw her into the game.
“I told him, ‘I don’t even know the rules of the game,’ and Vern, in his very gruff voice, said, ‘you’ll figure it out.’ ”
Simkins said what she learned from Burton was, “just get me in the game. I’ll figure it out. I’ve followed that attitude my whole life and it’s worked out pretty well.”
Longtime football and girls’ basketball coach Curt Bagby was elected to the Hall of Fame in 2020, but he died on Christmas Day 2020 before he got a chance to be inducted. His son, Curt Bagby Jr., gave the most emotional speech of the night.
“I didn’t want to be here,” Bagby said. He pointed to the audience. “I wanted to be out there, watching my dad receive this.”
Sam Hurworth, a football star from the 1950s who went on to play for the Huskies, told a story on of one his early football games.
“The greatest thing I ever learned was a little humility,” he said. He started off playing for a sixth-grade team in Joyce and went up against a team from Dry Creek Elementary. “That was the longest afternoon I ever spent,” he said, pointing out that his mom taught sixth grade at Dry Creek and was the coach of that school’s football team.
‘No weaklings in PA’
Bob Peterson, who played football in 1963 and went to play at Stanford and had a distinguished career in the U.S. Air Force, said in the old days, kids didn’t specialize in a sport.
“We played everything we could. We could barely find a weight room. We played in fog, we played in ankle-deep mud. We even played in a typhoon,” Peterson said. “There were no weaklings in Port Angeles.”
Peterson said his 7-1-1 team gave up 38 points the entire season, and he talked about all the people from that team who were no longer around.
“We would love to come through that gate over there and lead the mighty Riders from the yellow bus into battle one more time,” he said.
Katie Brodie, sister of former NFL quarterback and PGA golfer John Brodie, spoke on behalf of her husband Pete Hohman, a football and track coach from the 1960s. One of his ’60s teams went 9-0.
“What an honor and a privilege to be back with the Roughriders. The green wave Port Angeles-style was something to be seen,” Brodie said on behalf of Hohman.
Also inducted were diver Austin Fahrenholtz, who was a two-time state diving champion, Sonny Luke, a second team all-state football player from 1960 and Jenny Nixon, a 1989 swimmer who was part of a state-champion 400 freestyle team who went on to captain the University of Washington swim team.
In addition to 14 individuals, two teams were also inducted: The 1966 boys basketball team and the 1986 girls’ basketball team, both of which finished second in the state.
Skinner also acknowledged three Hall of Famers who recently passed — Bagby and Karena Greeny and Caroline Jensen, both 2019 inductees. And numerous speakers acknowledged co-emcee Scooter Chapman, the longtime radio voice of the Roughriders.
“It’s Scooter who ties everyone here together. Whether you played basketball or football, he announced your games,” Skinner said.