In the words of 2014 Linfield Athletics Hall of Fame inductee Dennis Schweitzer ’66, “Everyone has a story.”
And though every Hall of Fame tale is distinctively different, eight strikingly similar success stories emerged Nov. 15 during the 17th annual Hall of Fame induction banquet.
The seven standout athletes and one longtime volunteer all arrived at Linfield as unshaped lumps of clay, most drawn to Linfield by random circumstance. And one by one, each inductee described how their first and perhaps most important step along the pathway of long-term success was enrolling at Linfield.
“Linfield is a place where students come to learn about excellence on the field and achieve excellence in the classroom,” college president Dr. Thomas Hellie told the audience of nearly 250. “Linfield graduates people with tremendous character.”
The testimonies that followed Hellie’s remarks underscored his assertion.
“Coming to Linfield was more than an opportunity,” said Bruce Lundquist ’78. “It was a gift that was absolutely priceless.” In addition to a record-setting career in track and field, Lundquist’s Linfield pursuits included the helping publish the yearbook, singing in the choir, participating in theatre productions and supervising a student-managed garden.
Record-setting quarterback Tyler Matthews overcame doubt about his own athletic ability to twice lead the Wildcats to the national playoffs.
“It takes a village to raise a child,” said Matthews, who passed for 69 touchdowns and nearly 7,000 yards in three seasons. “Linfield raised me. The experiences Linfield gave me I will forever want to be giving back to others.”
Matthews, who was 26-2 as Linfield’s starting quarterback, called his inclusion in the Hall of Fame “a phenomenal honor. I’ll forever be proud to be a Wildcat.”
“Fortune favors the prepared mind,” wrote 19th century French scientist Louis Pasteur. The phrase continues to ring true in the head of men’s soccer All-American Chris McDonald ’02, the centerpiece of the greatest stretch of accomplishment in Linfield history.
“Success is rarely an individual occurrence,” said McDonald. “I was part of an unbelievable team and never would have been able to accomplish what I did without some incredible teammates.”
Not only is athletic achievement rewarded with induction to the Hall of Fame, so too is loyalty and unwavering support. In the case of longtime football statistician and basketball scorekeeper Tom McFadden, date night with his wife, Becky, was often “dinner out followed by the Wildcats.”
“There are only a handful of people who bleed purple and cardinal, and Tom is one of those people,” director of athletics Scott Carnahan said.
Jeff Owens ’79 termed his decision to attend Linfield and compete in football “a game changer.”
Owens recited his former coach Ad Rutschman’s three pillars of success (People, Preparation and Performance), making it clear “Linfield was the only place for me. It’s the place I learned one of life’s greatest lessons: Trust is fundamental in relationships.”
Scatterbrained as a Linfield freshman in 1961, Schweitzer had yet to understand how to remain focused on long-term goals.
“Paul saved me in many situations,” said Schweitzer, a football and baseball star. “He was always encouraging me.”
An offensive lineman who could “run like a deer,” Doug Walker ’78 very nearly attended Lewis & Clark rather than Linfield. But like many before him and since, Walker’s opportunities expanded from narrow to broad during his time as a Linfield student-athlete.
“I believe there’s a strong correlation between participation in activities of all kinds and success,” said Rutschman, noting that his former All-American was not only a leader on the field but in the college’s choir, band and theatre.
“What a wonderful experience Linfield can provide for an athlete and a student,” said Walker. “If you want to win and receive a quality education, Linfield is the place you want to go.
“I was totally blessed to come to Linfield,” he said. “Because Linfield promotes personal growth. I thank God I made that left-hand turn toward Linfield instead of Lewis & Clark.”
Linfield had a similarly profound effect on football halfback Steve Beguin, who achieved greatness despite a short two-year stay in McMinnville. Beguin went on to a notable career as a helicopter pilot during the Vietnam War as well as a 30+ year career as a commercial airline pilot.
Not surprisingly, Beguin’s story followed closely in line with his seven fellow inductees.