Pasco grad featured in documentary about University of Oregon track stars

Craig Craker, Tri-City HeraldJune 30, 2012 

EUGENE, Ore. -- To say Quenna Beasley was giddy Friday at the U.S. Olympic track and field trials would be an understatement.

Every time the Pasco High graduate saw a University of Oregon track and field teammate, she screamed with excitement.

She was talking a mile a minute and soaking up the atmosphere of Hayward Field.

Beasley is one of three female athletes from the 1985 Oregon women's track and field team who are featured in a movie, "We Grew Wings," which makes its world premiere at 9 p.m. today at McDonald Theatre in Eugene.

"It's been so much fun. It's brought back a lot of memories, getting back together with my teammates," Beasley said. "It's been fun the last year getting together and hearing everyone else's perspective on things ... and just to see how we've all grown from young girls into women and raising families."

The 1985 Ducks team won the NCAA Division I title, the only women's title in Oregon history. It also is the first women's squad to be immortalized in the University of Oregon Hall of Fame, founded in 1992.

Beasley, an All-American in the shot put and discus, is featured along with Claudette Groenendaal, the national 800-meter champion, and Leann Warren, an All-American in the 800-meter and 1,500-meter, in the movie produced by Ellen Schmidt-Devlin. Filmmakers are Erich Lyttle and Sarah Henderson, both of Portland.

"I definitely hope that it inspires a lot of people," Beasley said. "My best wish right now is that we can work with Ellen, and we can call up Oprah and get it televised nationwide. And inspire not just the young girls here, but inspire the whole universe."

The movie focuses on women from the 1985 team, as well as those from the 2011 team. The 1985 title was especially gratifying for the Ducks because they upset a loaded UCLA team that featured future Olympian Jackie Joyner Kersee. It also vaulted the women's team onto a stage previously reserved for Oregon's men's track and field program.

Schmidt-Devlin's production details the challenges females have faced in athletics, and it being released as women celebrate the 40-year anniversary of the passage of Title IX, the landmark federal anti-gender discrimination law known for promoting high school and college sports programs for women.

"I've learned more about it in the last year," Beasley said. "Coming out of high school into college, I just knew the opportunity was there. I didn't know why. I didn't understand it.

"I guess I didn't really care as long as I got to compete and have fun," she continued. "But now as an adult going back and looking at what other women went through, and what me and my teammates went through, to pave the way for young ladies of today -- it's really cool. It's really nice."

Ultimately, though, it's just been fun for the teammates to catch up.

"I'm seeing a lot of athletes I haven't seen in 20-plus years," said Groenendaal, who went to high school in Salem. "I feel like I'm in college again. I feel like I'm a part of the team. It's been a wonderful experience."

Beasley graduated from Pasco in 1980, where she competed in track and field, volleyball, basketball and softball. She now lives in Redmond and regularly visits the Tri-Cities. Her family members, most of whom still live in the Mid-Columbia, look forward to watching "We Grew Wings."

"It's going to be a dream come true for her, and obviously me as well," said Quenna's son Logwone Mitz, who was a senior running back last year at Washington State. "I've known a couple people already that have been in some movies, but to have your mom actually be on the screen, that is going to be nice to see. I can't wait."

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