Thanks for the memories.
Eastern Washington University has made a lot of history during the first 50 years of the Big Sky Conference, especially when you consider that Eastern didn’t join the league until 1985.
This year, the conference celebrated its golden anniversary with a yearlong stroll down memory lane, each moment ranked and revealed, one at a time. Athletes and teams, male and female, were honored throughout the year.
“We had some terrific moments, especially when we haven’t been there for 100 percent of the time,” said Eastern athletic director Bill Chaves, who watched most of them unfold during a tenure that began in 2007.
“This was an outstanding thing for everyone, creating memorable experiences,” Chaves said.
In Eastern’s case, most of those moments were created on the football field, none bigger than the Eagles’ national Football Championship Subdivision title in 2010.
“It’s going to be hard to beat that,” Chaves said.
Yes, and no.
The Eagles’ national title rose to No. 5 on the Big Sky charts, a subjective list that won’t make everyone happy but will make many wistful.
For quarterback Bo Levi Mitchell, the momentum was bigger than the moment itself, the hard work eclipsing the hardware.
“It’s the fact that you put that much work to get to that one game,” said Mitchell, now with the Calgary Stampeders of the Canadian Football League.
Trailing Delaware 19-0 in the third quarter, Mitchell said that he and his teammates could only “look at yourself, knowing how many times you have been there, down on the scoreboard.
“So why not? You leave your body out there for your teammates,” Mitchell said.
It’s the same for individual honors. In 2008, Greg Peach won the school’s first Buck Buchanan Award given to the top defensive player in the FCS. The honor resulted in a No. 39 ranking for Peach among Big Sky male athletes.
“The Buchanan was cool, but I don’t think about it much,” Peach said. In fact, Peach had to pause for a moment before recalling that the trophy is currently residing at his grandmother’s house in Lake Stevens, Washington.
“It’s not even the games,” Peach said. “It’s your best friends, the guys who were at my wedding.”
Peach rattled off the names – Lance Witherspoon, J.C. Sherritt, Matt Nichols, Nicholas Ramos and others. “I still see those guys, friends for life.”