Class of 2009 is Inducted into Willamette Athletics Hall of Fame
SALEM, ORE. -- Willamette University inducted the Class of 2009 into the WU Athletics Hall of Fame on Saturday, Oct. 25. The ceremony took place as part of a dinner honoring the inductees at the Salem Conference Center/Phoenix Grand Hotel.
With a total of 10 teams and individuals inducted, it was the largest WU Athletics Hall of Fame Class since the inaugural group of 16 individuals in 1991. It also was the fourth Hall of Fame class since Willamette moved to biennial inductions in 2003.
Former Willamette athletes who were inducted this year were Scott Baker, men’s basketball and track and field, 1990-94; Jamie Barton, women’s soccer, 1994-98; Jim Booth, football, basketball, baseball and track and field, 1960-64; Jenny Joseph, women’s basketball, 1993-97; Chuck Pinkerton, football, 1994-98 (also at WU as an assistant coach, 1998-present); Maynard “Skip” Spence, track and field, 1958-59.
Coaches for the Bearcats who were inducted were Gordie James, men’s basketball, 1987-88 through 2008-09 (22 seasons); Jim Tursi, women’s soccer, 1993-07 (15 seasons).
Also inducted into the Hall of Fame were the 1959-60 men’s basketball team coached by John Lewis and the 1985-86 women’s basketball team coached by Cheryl K. Brown.
Scott Baker, 1990-94
Men’s Basketball, Track and Field
Baker holds second place on Willamette’s all-time rebounding list with 1,039 rebounds from 1990-91 through 1993-94. He played on Willamette’s National Championship team in 1992-93.
He ranks ninth on the Bearcats’ all-time single season field goal shooting list, after hitting 57.1% (100 of 175) in 1992-93. He is tied for seventh with an 8.5 career rebounding average and is 10th in single season rebounds with 288 in 1993-94.
He was named First Team All-NCIC in 1993-94 and was chosen as a Third Team Little All-Northwest Basketball honoree. He was named to the NAIA Division II All-Tournament Team in 1992-93. He also was selected for several regular season All-Tournament teams during his career. He was a J.H. Booth Award winner.
Baker also competed in track and field for the Bearcats. He ranks second on Willamette’s Top 10 list in the javelin with a career-best throw of 206’4” in 1991.
Jamie Barton, 1994-98
Jamie Barton was a four-year letter winner in women’s soccer (1994-97). During her career, Barton received multiple Willamette, conference, regional and All-America honors, while setting five individual Bearcat records.
Barton was picked as Willamette’s Most Valuable Player in 1997 and was the Jean Williams Award winner in 1997-98. She also was a First Team All-Conference player three times (1995-97), was the Conference Player of the Year twice (1995, 1997), and was chosen NAIA All-America twice (1996, 1998).
Barton still holds Willamette women’s soccer records for most goals in a single game (7), career goals (63), career assists (38), single season assists (12), and career points (164). She led the Bearcats to nationally-ranked finishes twice during her career.
WU participated in the NAIA Regional all four years and reached the NAIA National Tournament in 1996. The Bearcats achieved a combined overall record of 71-14-2 (.828) during Barton’s career. Her coach, Jim Tursi, also is being inducted into the WU Athletics Hall of Fame as part of the Class of 2009.
Jim Booth, 1960-64
Football, Basketball, Baseball, Track and Field
Jim Booth’s athletic career at Willamette ranks among the most unique in history. He earned eleven letters in four sports (football, basketball, baseball, track and field) from 1960-64. Booth not only lettered in all four sports, but he performed well enough to be named All-Conference in baseball and basketball and his 20-rebound performance against Linfield still ranks among the top performances in Bearcat history. He was the J.H. Booth Award winner in 1964.
Along with his impressive performances as an athlete, he was also a valuable addition to the Willamette community. He was an active member in Sigma Chi fraternity, where he was awarded with multiple service-related honors. He also was the treasurer of the Willamette Letterman’s Club. Even after the conclusion of his athletic career, Booth has continued to be a popular face at Willamette, where he has worked as the Senior Director of Alumni Relations and has played an active role in the athletic and Greek communities.
He is retiring from Willamette University, but remains a big fan of Bearcat Athletics. His well-rounded Willamette athletic career and his outstanding work and devotion to Willamette make him an exceptional representative of both WU and Bearcat Athletics.
Jenny Joseph, 1993-97
Jenny Joseph is one of the top players in the history of the Willamette women’s basketball team. Her career statistics are near the top in almost every category. During four years with the Bearcats (1993-94 through 1996-97), she scored 1,309 points, made 549 field goals and shot 56.3% from the floor �" all school records. She also set the Willamette career records for rebounds (695) and blocked shots (212).
She earned First Team All-Conference honors three times and was the Most Valuable Player in 1995-96, after scoring a school record 442 points and hitting 189 field goals. She was a co-winner of the Jean Williams Award.
Joseph ranks in the top ten at Willamette in single season field goal percentage for all four years she played. Her top single season percentage was a school record 57.9% in 1994-95. Against Pacific Lutheran University on Jan. 14, 1997, she scored 31 points and blocked nine shots. During her MVP season, she led the Bearcats to a 19-8 overall record and the NCIC title at 13-1, as Willamette qualified for the NAIA Division II Tournament.
Chuck Pinkerton, 1994-98
Assistant Football Coach (1998-Present)
Fans who attended Willamette University football games in 1997 remember it as the magical year that quarterback Chuck Pinkerton helped lead the Bearcats to the NAIA national championship game. In1997, Pinkerton completed 97 of 160 passes (60.6%) for 1,268 yards and 10 touchdowns. He had 614 rushing yards and averaged 156.8 yards of total offense per game. He also contributed as a punter, averaging 33 yards per punt.
He broke his leg in the NAIA Division II semifinals in a 17-7 win over Sioux Falls (S.D.). He was unable to play in the NAIA Championship game, which Willamette lost to Findlay University (Ohio), 14-7.
Pinkerton started all four years at Willamette from 1994-97 and quarterbacked the Bearcats to conference titles (in 1995, 1996 and 1997. He was named Honorable Mention All-America twice by the NAIA, was a co-winner of the J.H. Booth Award and was chosen First Team Northwest Conference in 1996 and 1997. He ranks first in Willamette’s record book with 7,844 yards of career total offense and is second with 77 total touchdowns (rushing and passing).
Since graduating, Pinkerton has been an assistant coach for the Bearcats with his focus on the quarterbacks. He helped coach the 2008 team to a 10-0 regular season, an NCAA Playoff berth and an 11-1 overall record. His efforts have helped several WU quarterbacks put together outstanding seasons, including Grant Leslie, who ranked fifth in the nation with a 170.86 passing efficiency rating in 2008.
Two years ago, Pinkerton and the rest of the 1997 Willamette football team were inducted into the WU Athletics Hall of Fame in the team category. This year, Pinkerton will be inducted in the athlete category for his individual leadership and success.
Maynard “Skip” Spence, 1958-59
Track and Field
Spence competed for two seasons in track and field before a hamstring injury ended his Willamette athletic career. He set Willamette records in the 100-yard dash in 9.7 seconds, the 220-yard straight dash at 20.9 seconds and the high jump at 6’3.5”. He tied the school record in the 440-yard dash with a time of 50.1 seconds.
He also was a member of the mile relay team that held the school record of 3:24.5. The relay record was set in 1958. In 1959, Spence contributed an average of 14.25 points toward Willamette’s team score during six dual meets.
On Willamette’s list of former events (those no longer contested at the collegiate level), Spence is tied with five other runners for first place at 100 yards, is alone in first place at 220 yards (straight) and is tied with two runners for fifth at 440 yards.
Gordie James, Men’s Basketball
Head Coach, 1987-88 through 2008-09 (22 seasons)
James achieved a record of 357-230 (.608) during his 22 years with the Bearcats. He led Willamette to 16 winning seasons, including six Northwest Conference titles. The 1992-93 Willamette team won the NAIA Division II National Championship with a 29-4 overall record, matching WU’s 1938-39 team (29-6) for the most wins in school history. The 1992-93 title remains Willamette’s only varsity team national championship.
James was named NAIA National Coach of the Year in 1992-93. He was selected Northwest Conference Coach of the Year four times. He handled the transition of the Willamette men’s basketball team from NAIA status into NCAA Division III, where the Bearcats have competed since the 1998-99 season.
His first team at Willamette in 1987-88 went undefeated in the NWC at 10-0. It was the first team to go undefeated in the conference since the College of Idaho (no longer a member) went 15-0 in 1954-55.
Prior to becoming the head coach at Willamette, James had a successful career as a high school head coach in California and Oregon. His high school coaching record was 340-129 (.725). His overall coaching record, including 44 years at the high school and collegiate levels, was 697-359 (.660).
In 1994, he was named head coach of the Japanese National Team. He led Japan to a bronze medal in the Asian Olympics. His summer Pro Classic Hoop Camp has helped well over 15,000 young boys and girls develop fundamental basketball skills as well as a game plan for successful lives. One of James’ former players and assistant coaches, Kip Ioane, is now the head coach of the Bearcats.
Jim Tursi, Women’s Soccer
Head Coach, 1993 through 2007 (15 seasons)
Jim Tursi was the head coach of the Willamette women’s soccer team for 15 seasons from 1993 through 2007. He led the Bearcats to 10 playoff berths and to nine NWC championships.
His team reached the NAIA National Tournament in 1996 and the NCAA Division III Elite Eight in 1998, 2000 and 2001. The 1998 and 2001 teams both reached the Final Four.
Tursi coached the Bearcats to 14 winning records, including 11 teams with 15 or more wins. Nine of his teams lost three or fewer games.
His record at Willamette was 237-53-23 (.794), including 151-27-15 (.821) in conference play. His career record, including three seasons at the University of Portland, was 273-67-27 (.866).
Tursi was named Conference Coach of the Year at Willamette in 1993, 1994 and 1997, and was the Conference Coach of the Year twice at Portland. Tursi also coached high school boys’ soccer coach at Parkrose High School and Gresham High School (1989-94). He was the founder of the Gresham Football Club and is still the owner of Tursi’s Soccer Supply in the Portland area.
1959-60 Men’s Basketball Team
22-6, 12-3 NCIC (Champion)
NAIA District 2 Champion
Willamette won the NCIC Championship and the NAIA District title. Three players earned All-Conference honors: Eddie Grossenbacher, Larry Lynn and Buzz Wilfert.
The Bearcats broke a Willamette record at the time by scoring 106 points in a single game. Willamette lost to Savannah State (Ga.) in the first round of the NAIA National Tournament.
Grossenbacher, a senior in 1959-60, is fifth on Willamette’s career scoring list with 1,547 points and is fourth with 15.5 points per games during his career. He is tied for fourth in single game scoring with 38 points against Linfield. He was named Third Team NAIA Little All-America.
Grossenbacher and Lynn were chosen to the NAIA Division II Far West All-Tournament Team. Lynn was chosen MVP of the Far West Tournament.
1985-86 Women’s Basketball Team
20-7, 10-0 NCIC (Champion)
Willamette went 20-7 overall and won the WCIC with a 10-0 record. The next team to go undefeated in the conference was George Fox at 16-0 in 2007-08.
The Bearcats also went 14-6 against NAIA District 2 teams. WU lost in the first round of the NAIA District 2 Tournament to Northwest Nazarene, 75-64.
First Team All-Conference selections for Willamette in 1985-86 were Christine Suess and Natalie Marth. Suess averaged 13.6 points per game and Marth achieved 11.6 points per contest. Suess also led the team with 8.9 rebounds per game, and Lesslie Knight averaged in double figures with 10.3 points per game. Sabrina Petersen added 8.0 boards per game.
Willamette achieved a +9.5 rebound margin and limited opponents to 39.0% shooting. The Bearcats were 11-2 at home and 9-5 on the road. WU had a 13 game winning streak during the season.