PASCO -- Neither Mark Kafentzis nor Dave McKay expected so many people to attend their Columbia Basin College Wall of Fame induction ceremony as part of the Follow Your Dreams reception and banquet at CBC on Thursday night.
"I didn't expect this large of a crowd," said Kafentzis, who now lives on the west side of the state. "I didn't even recognize CBC. We used to call it Tumbleweed Tech."
"I wasn't expecting this many people," McKay admitted. "The last time I was here was in 1970, and (then-CBC baseball coach) Ed Maxwell picked me up at the train depot. Today, he picked me up at the airport."
An estimated 200 people were in attendance -- all tables and seats were sold out -- to hear stories from the two former CBC stars, as well as guest speaker Dick Zornes.
Kafentzis, a Richland High graduate, was inducted after playing as a defensive back for CBC, the University of Hawaii and in the NFL.
He came, he said, from a family of athletes by necessity.
"I came from a family of 13 kids, and my mom would set the table for 10," said Kafentzis, who weighed just 148 pounds in high school. "My father knew I loved football. He thought if I was going to play college football, it would be as a field-goal kicker. That motivated me."
Kafentzis worked hard at CBC, gained weight and strength, and as Zornes said, "When he left here he was a major-college talent."
McKay, from Canada, was signed by Maxwell after the coach saw him play in a tournament in Portland one summer. McKay said if not for that call, he probably would've been an architect living in Vancouver.
Instead, McKay would embark on an eight-year major league baseball playing career, then become a valued coaching assistant for future Hall of Fame manager Tony LaRussa for the next 26 seasons -- earning three World Series championship rings along the way.
"It just doesn't make any sense," McKay marveled at his long baseball career. "I sometimes sit back and wonder how this all happened. I've been blessed.
"This is where it all started," he continued. "It's nice to be back."
For Zornes, it was great chance to come back to his old stomping grounds, where in 1978 his football team went 10-0 and was crowned national junior college champion by two different polls.
Off that team, 17 players signed with Division I football teams, and 18 more signed with either Big Sky Conference schools or in-state colleges.
"I thought CBC was one of the best jobs I ever had, and it was a great place to work," said Zornes.
The football coach was working for the B.C. Lions of the Canadian Football League. Around Christmas of 1976, he and the other coaches were let go.
A month later, he was hired to coach CBC's football team.
"We had to do a few things," said Zornes. "We started a weightlifting program. Second, I had to figure out a sales pitch to go out and recruit players. JC ball was the second best football in the state at the time. Our sales pitch had to do with the community. The other thing we wanted to do was recruit good athletes."
Zornes then appealed to the crowd.
"People, you have to increase your support," he said. "Times are tough, but it's tougher for these young people. I urge you to get involved at an even deeper level."
NOTES: The proceeds of the banquet and auction go toward facilities improvement and athletic scholarships. ... CBC athletic director Scott Rogers said both Maxwell and Kafentzis were approved at last week's NWAACC board of directors meeting to be inducted into the NWAACC Hall of Fame later this year. The banquet will take place in the Tri-Cities. ... Rogers showed photos of the new locker rooms facility the baseball, softball and men's and women's soccer teams use. It opened for business last March 4, and includes coaches' offices, restrooms and a concession stand. ... In the last 10 years, CBC athletes have moved on from the Pasco community college to 75 different four-year schools.