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Mid-Columbia sports scene lost 2 great people

Former longtime River View High School football coach Gary Everson, who was a huge presence at the Finley school, left a lasting impression on countless lives.
Former longtime River View High School football coach Gary Everson, who was a huge presence at the Finley school, left a lasting impression on countless lives. Tri-City Herald

It’s never easy to lose a mentor, such as an inspirational coach.

But our region lost two of them in the past few weeks with Marcie Brown and Gary Everson, both to battles with cancer.

I didn’t know Brown, but from what I know, she inspired a lot of young girls in volleyball.

Brown coached at Tri-Cities Prep for five years. She also co-founded the Club Mojo Volleyball program out of Burbank about three years before coming to Prep.

She led Prep to the state tournament in her third and fifth seasons at the school.

“Marcie was very passionate about developing as a coach,” said Prep athletic director Dan Whitsett. “Specifically her interpersonal relationships and motivating her players to enhance their competitiveness, competence, and confidence. She really took off as a coach and developed a wonderful resume of a tough disciplinarian who loved her players.”

Whitsett said that as Brown’s kids were getting older, she had planned her fifth year to be her last at Prep.

“She didn’t want to miss her kids’ games,” said Whitsett. “She was diagnosed shortly after she had made that decision, towards the end of her final run to state.”

A year ago, the current Prep players invited her to a game at the school, where they gave her $1,500 they raised for medical expenses by selling T-shirts.

She will be missed.

While I never met Brown, I knew Everson.

When I started at the Herald in the mid-1980s, I covered the Yakima Valley A East League that included River View.

Everson had started developing some good football teams in Finley that were annually vying for the league title – something that Finley residents hadn’t seen for a while. He always answered or returned my phone calls, and rolled out the red carpet when I came out to cover the Panthers’ games.

But I knew Everson from the media angle, and I knew his father Bob Everson and father-in-law Dwight Pool were great football coaches (especially in the Northwest community college ranks). And I knew Gary was a damn good golfer.

But I certainly didn’t know him like those who played for him or worked with him on a daily basis.

For the record, Everson coached 17 seasons at River View, posting a 101-59 record.

But he was more than about wins and losses, said Brett Jay, who played for Everson as a freshman and sophomore, eventually coached at River View, and is now the head coach at Hanford High School.

“When you think about River View football, the first name that comes to mind is Gary Everson,” said Jay, who visited Everson in Spokane a few weeks ago. “Growing up, you couldn’t wait to one day wear the red and black. Coach Everson created that tradition.”

Jay shared an office with Everson his last three years at River View.

“I picked his brain daily about football and life,” said Jay. “He played a huge part in our success from 2009-2013, but it was behind the scenes. He would challenge schemes and game plans to make sure we had everything covered. I enjoyed every minute of our conversations.

“If you went and asked every one of his players that played for him, you would get the same stories and admiration. We all are so grateful he invested in our school and our program.”

Dev Chavez – who played for Everson, got drafted by the Chicago Cubs and eventually came back to Finley to teach and coach – agrees.

“Mr. Everson was a great dad, husband and was like our second dad at school. Nobody wanted to disappoint or let him down,” said Chavez. “He had a knack of connecting to all types of students and getting the most out of you, especially the young men who needed some extra structure and guidance in their lives.”

Andy Clayton, who knew Everson for over 30 years, saw that too.

“He had a way with troubled kids that was amazing. He was able to get those kids to see their self-worth,” said Clayton, who played for Everson and graduated in 1995, went to college, then came back and is a coach and teacher in Finley.

“I have had some solid men in my life, and he was right there at the top with my dad…. really good sons, fathers, husbands, brothers, mentors, and people in general. I always appreciated his honesty, no matter how blunt it was. He never sugar-coated anything. You always knew where you stood with him.”

Many of our area’s students, athletes and adults are better off for having known both Brown and Everson.

They helped make everyone, including members of the media, better people.

cbcsoftball2
Columbia Basin College’s softball field was named the 2018 National Fastpitch Coaches Association (NFCA) Field of the Year for the Northwest Athletic Conference division. CBC photo

Softball news

Congratulations to Columbia Basin College softball program for having the 2018 National Fastpitch Coaches Association (NFCA) Field of the Year for the Northwest Athletic Conference division.

The award was announce by Turface Athletics, and it goes to programs recognized for their flawless grounds maintenance and exceptional playing surfaces.

“Being recognized nationally with this award supports the concept that CBC strives for excellence in everything we do,” said CBC’s athletic director, Scott Rogers, in a press release. “There are many parties involved in facility development and maintenance, from our Grounds and Maintenance departments, to our players and coaches, all taking pride in knowing we have exceptional facilities. We believe this level of recognition validates this belief.”

CBC’s softball complex features new dugouts and locker rooms. Many facility upgrades have taken place over the last four years, including the addition of restrooms, a snack bar, turf bullpens on each side, scoreboard, and a full-field windscreen.

▪ Richland High grad April Utecht had a pretty outstanding fall campaign for the University of Oregon.

The Ducks, who played in the College World Series back in May, outscored opponents 114-2 in eight fall games. Utecht had five home runs in those games.

Americans

The Tri-City Americans have won four consecutive games as of Friday afternoon. That’s given them an 8-4-0-0 record and a share of first place in the U.S. Division of the Western Hockey League.

That’s impressive alone. But the fact that different players are stepping up each night makes it even better.

Kyle Olson, Parker AuCoin, Nolan Yaremko, Riley Sawchuk, Sasha Mutala, Isaac Johnson and goalie Beck Warm have contributed at key moments in different games to keep the streak going. The Ams continue their road trip, playing at Spokane on Saturday.

▪ Kelowna fired coach Jason Smith earlier this week.

This ’n’ that

The River View volleyball team will receive the WIAA Scholastic Award for 1A volleyball. The team had a combined grade point average of 3.159. … Gerald Barnhart’s Inland Northwest Soccer News named its weekly College Best XI on Oct. 23. EWU keeper Kelsee Winston (Hanford) was named women’s player of the week. Also named to the team are CWU defender Emily Russell (Southridge) and Spokane CC forward Megan Wilkinson (Pasco). Players on the Men’s XI include keeper Alex Grimaldi of Walla Walla CC, Evergreen State forward Emilio Meraz-Rodriguez (Pasco) and forward Miguel Rodriguez of Walla Walla CC. … Liberty Christian quarterback Curtis Morgan and Walla Walla High School soccer player Lorena Ramirez were named WIAA athletes of the week this week. … Walla Walla CC’s Edwin Romero, a Wa-Hi grad, was named NWAC Men’s Soccer Player of the Week on Oct. 18.

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