Clockwise from upper left: Dan Beeson, Bill Wallin, Jim Wright, Al Tarpenning, Floyd Halvorsen Jr., Jim Reimann, Toby Robillard, Tony Ah Yat.
Why are Linfield student-athletes and sports teams so consistently successful?
The secret, according to 2008 Linfield Athletics Hall of Fame inductee Tony Ah Yat, is to “surround yourself with good people.”
Ah Yat was one of eight individuals enshrined in the Hall of Fame at the 11th annual banquet and induction ceremony, held Saturday, Nov. 8, inside Ted Wilson Gymnasium on the Linfield campus. More than 200 attended the AT&T-sponsored event, which followed the final home football game of the season at Maxwell Field.
Described as “a quiet leader who instilled confidence in others” when introduced by Hall of Fame coach Ad Rutschman, Ah Yat reflected on his career as an All-America defensive end in the 1960s. He was nearly overcome with emotion when remembering his coach, the late Paul Durham, just one individual on a long list of “good people” that included Hugh Yoshida, Jon Froberg, and Mike Stelman.
Basketball great Dan Beeson, termed a “vital organ” on Coach Ted Wilson’s “Go-Go-Go” teams of the 1960s, recalled his growth and maturation during a Hall of Fame career that included four trips to the NAIA championship tournament in Kansas City, Mo. A nagging neck injury that was eventually treated by a local chiropractor led Beeson on a path to a successful career in chiropractic medicine.
Football All-American Floyd Halvorsen Jr., the Wildcats’ all-time leading tackler, had a hand in three national championship teams during the 1980s. His greatest memories while at Linfield were of earning his first varsity letter and of memorizing hand-written game plans. His fastidious preparation habits developed at Linfield proved to be his “ticket to success,” in the field of education and coaching, he said.
Why did Halvorsen choose Linfield in the first place? “Because it fit,” he said, matter-of-factly.
Toby Robillard, who set a school record in the shot put that has stood for more than 30 years, remembered “what a great experience attending Linfield was and how much being here taught me how to be an individual.” Robillard helped establish Linfield as a track and field power in the 1970s under former coach John Knight.
The late Kyle Tarpenning fulfilled his lifelong dream of playing football at Linfield. Following in the footsteps of his father, Al Tarpenning, who was inducted in 1999, the two-sport star in football and track and field became part of the fifth father-son duo to be enshrined the Hall of Fame.
Bill Wallin, a two-sport All-American in both basketball and baseball, turned his self-described “fear of failure” into a Hall of Fame career. His biggest influences include Hall of Famers Jack Riley, Bill Machamer, Fred Herrmann, and Tom Younker. From Hall of Fame basketball coach Wilson, he learned discipline and precise execution. From Durham, he modeled the Hall of Fame coach’s professionalism, integrity and preparation.
Two longtime supporters were also honored for meritorious service to the college’s athletic department.
Jim Reimann and Jim Wright’s fingerprints can be found across Linfield’s outstanding competition venues, from the football field and track, to the athletics complex, to the baseball stadium and field house.
Reimann’s motivation for his substantial giving was simply “to help young people become good students, good athletes and good citizens.”
Raised in McMinnville, Wright described the many ways Linfield touched his life, citing an early influence by Hall of Fame coaches Roy Helser, Durham, and Wilson, as well as loyal follower Billy Maxwell.