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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Area coaching icons Dan Fitzgerald, Buzzie Welch honored alongside Jack Thompson, others during Inland Northwest Sports Hall of Fame ceremony

By Dan Thompson For The Spokesman-Review

Dan Fitzgerald first came to Spokane in 1972.

As he, his wife Darleen and daughter Kelly were driving up Division Street in a U-Haul, the future Gonzaga men’s basketball coach admired the town around him.

“I bet this is a great basketball town, he would say to himself,” Kelly said of her father on Tuesday evening. “He would soon learn that while Spokane had great potential, it was not the town for basketball that exists today.”

Kelly Fitzgerald spoke on her late father’s behalf as Dan Fitzgerald was inducted into the Inland Northwest Sports Hall of Fame as part of the 2019 six-member class at a ceremony at the Spokane Arena. Fitzgerald spent three seasons as a Gonzaga assistant coach from 1972 to 1974 and returned as head coach in 1978.

In 15 seasons with Fitzgerald as head coach, the Bulldogs went 252-171, reaching the NCAA Tournament for the first time in 1995. He also hired future Gonzaga head coaches Dan Monson and Mark Few as assistants.

“He would be absolutely speechless because he wasn’t one that would draw a lot of attention to him personally,” said Darleen Fitzgerald, who was married to the coach from 1962 until his death in 2010. “He would be, I’m sure, overwhelmed, but very, very pleased.”

Joining Fitzgerald in the 2019 class were Ron Cox, Jason Hanson, Jake Rosholt, Jack Thompson and Don “Buzzie” Welch, who died last year at age 71.

“He would be standing here right now going, ‘I don’t deserve this,’ ” said Cris Welch, Don’s wife. “He would be humbled.”

As a high school volleyball coach at Rogers, Ferris and Lewis and Clark, Welch’s teams won 504 matches and a combined 11 Greater Spokane League championships, plus two state titles at LC.

“It didn’t matter to him if a player was going to play for him or a different high school,” daughter Shannon (Welch) Pena said. “He was happy to coach his competitors’ players because it created community, and that is what he loved. He would be beside himself to be a part of this community here in the Hall of Fame.”

Cox, another inductee, admired the Hall of Fame displays in the Spokane Arena concourse before the ceremony.

“I was looking at the list of coaches that have been inducted, and I’m a little overwhelmed by the names that are on there, wondering if my name really fits there,” Cox said.

As a player, Cox led Coulee City to the State B tournament four times from 1970 to 1973. He then played forward at Eastern Washington, which has retired his No. 30.

Cox then coached the boys basketball team for 19 years at Tekoa-Oakesdale, where he won a state title in 1993. He spent the past 10 seasons coaching and teaching at Lakeside High School.

Rosholt, a 2001 Sandpoint High School graduate, won three individual wrestling titles at Oklahoma State and was a four-time All-America selection. He finished his college career with a 105-20 record.

Rosholt, the youngest inductee this year at 37 years old, admitted that he doesn’t feel far removed from his career, but he has begun to reflect on it.

“When I do look back on it I realize how many more other hands were involved in my success than just mine,” he said, “from coaches, to parents, to other peoples’ parents, to God. God had so much to do with my success.”

Hanson and Thompson both made their marks at Washington State and in the NFL. Hanson, a Mead graduate, kicked for 21 years with the Detroit Lions.

Hanson was unable to attend the ceremony, so Travis Hanson, his brother, spoke for him.

“In the final few years of (Jason’s) career I was shocked to see, and show me another NFL stadium where, people in the stands (were) wearing the place-kicker’s jersey,” Travis said.

Thompson, “The Throwin’ Samoan,” passed for 7,818 yards in three seasons as the Cougars’ starting quarterback, then spent parts of six seasons (1979-84) in the NFL. He lives in Seattle but said he hasn’t missed a Cougars home game in 14 years.

One of his sons just bought a house in Pullman, which Thompson said was convenient.

“I now have a place to stay during football (weekends),” he said.

The Hall of Fame also inducted two new members to its Scroll of Honor: Bart Templeman, a guru of track and field’s throwing arts; and John Tuft, Spokane County’s parks and recreation director from 1963 to 1991.