Linfield Wildcats

Chet Croco

Athlete 1977 - 1980

Chet Croco It is little wonder that Chet Croco ' 81 attended Linfield after graduating from Lebanon High School in 1977. The son of Bill '56 and Bernadine was born in McMinnville in 1959 and spent his earliest years sitting on the laps of Linfield Hall of Fame legends Vic Fox and Vern Marshall; listening to stories about people with names like Roy, Ted, Coach and Rutsch. At an early age, Chet learned that it was much better to be a Wildcat than a Duck, Beaver or Bearcat.

Chet was 12 years old when he first met Ad Rutschman. Coach Rutschman came to the Croco home to talk to then high school recruit Mike Rex and his parents about Linfield. Chet and his friend, Steve Rex, listened in on the conversation and didn't hesitate for a minute to verbally commit to Linfield when asked by Coach Rutschman. Little did Coach Rutschman know that on that day he had come away with three new recruits instead of one.

In high school Chet was a typical "late bloomer". He had size but lacked speed and strength and at one point seriously thought about giving up football. He stuck with it however, and was a two year letterman in football receiving Valley League honorable mention recognition his senior year. He did a little better in baseball where he lettered twice, made second team all-conference and was named team co-most valuable player his last year at Lebanon.

Croco met with Rutschman in the spring of '77 and made good on his promise to come to Linfield in the fall, along with fellow high school teammates Dave Summers and Steve Rex. Croco came to Linfield as an undersized offensive tackle, looking like, as Rutschman put it "a baby Elk", with the hope of just making the team. He played sparingly his freshman year, primarily on special teams, but did earn a varsity letter. At the end of his freshman year, Croco decided to switch from tackle to guard.

Croco came into his sophomore year a little heavier and stronger than the year before. He came out of doubles as the No. 2 guard on the strong side. Croco received his first start against Southern Oregon. He went on to start the remaining games of the season including playoff games against Carroll College and Concordia. He received special recognition for his blocking in a game against Pacific and received his second letter.

Croco bloomed his junior year. He had added 55 pounds to his 6-foot-5 inch frame since his freshman year. Size, strength and execution proved to be Croco's greatest asset as a blocker. His consistent play drew the attention of opposing players and coaches alike and at the end of the season, was chosen first team all-conference, all-district, all-West Coast and first team NAIA All-America.

Graduating in 1981 with a degree in business and communications, he has made a career in sales and marketing in the wood products industry and is the Sales Manager for Sellwood Lumber Company in Lake Oswego. Chet is the father of Emily (20) and Annette (16). He and his wife, Alice, live in Albany and are the parents of daughter, Ellie (1).