1984 Football Team
Over 40 players and coaches from the 1984 national championship football team returned to campus Saturday, Nov. 13, to be inducted into the Linfield Athletics Hall of Fame.
The 1984 football team joined seven outstanding individual athletes also enshrined at the seventh annual Hall of Fame banquet.
Many team members were greeting one another for the first time since that magical season 20 years ago, when the Wildcats overcame seemingly insurmountable odds to capture the NAIA Division II national crown.
Steve Belt '85, in accepting the honor on behalf of his teammates, cited "courage, toughness and ability to overcome adversity," as the team's defining qualities. Steve Boyea '85 noted the team was comprised of "a whole bunch of very good players, not any excellent players." Floyd Halvorsen '86 drew comparisons between the 1984 team and the 2004 Wildcats, saying that the football program has continued to prosper because of its "tremendous coaching staff."
Three former track and field All-Americans were inducted. Curt Heywood '94, a three-time national champion and six-time All-American in the pole vault, "epitomized what every student-athlete should be," said his former coach Garry Killgore, in presenting Heywood for induction. Melanie Leckenby '90, who came to Linfield intending to focus on swimming, instead blossomed into an All-American and national-meet qualifier in both track & field and cross country under the tutelage of retired coach George Oja. Known for his grueling training runs, Oja also developed distance runner and Hall of Fame inductee Kris Mueller '83, who once held school records in six different events. Mueller praised Oja's ability as a coach to build a bond between the coach and each individual athlete.
Don Hansen '43, was remembered as "a smooth left-handed dribbler with a great eye for the basket," said Al Beeler '35, in presenting the Hall of Fame induction to Leslye Hansen '49. "If Don had not hurt his knee playing, I might never have slowed him down long enough to marry him," she mused, noting that she never actually got the chance to see her late husband play.
Football and baseball standout David Rohrer '63 gave credit to his coaches, Paul Durham '36 and Roy Helser '36, both of whom "encouraged their athletes to practice good sportsmanship, be of good character and work toward graduation."
Two-time All-American Bernie Peterson '74, a self-described "man of few words," was a "great football player and one heck of a good guy," said former teammate Steve Pickering '74, "In his own quiet way, Bernie was a very positive leader."
Al Wills '56, the first student-athlete to attend Linfield from the state of Hawaii, said Linfield "will always be my family. The college provided me with a great foundation for success." Wills, an All-American offensive and defensive lineman, was known as a great downfield blocker and outstanding team leader.
A crowd of about 250 attended the dinner and induction ceremony inside Ted Wilson Gym.