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By Dale Anderson
Sports columnist 

No. 57 brings back memories

 

Last updated 6/27/2023 at 8:59am



I met Kenny G several years ago at the Big Sky Track championship in Cheney through a mutual friend. Throughout the day we conversed about EWU football and his time there in the early 1960s. We became fast friends as they say and have watched a lot of Eastern Washington University games together.

Ken told a bunch of stories about his high school days in Othello. Since I told him I was from Ritzville he had to tell me the story of his prowess as a middle linebacker and the day that he was a one-man wrecking crew stopping Bronco runners four straight times at the goal line to secure victory for the Othello Huskies. Ken would go to Columbia Basin College to play football. The team he played on his sophomore year played in the Jr. Rose Bowl. Upon graduation Ken would play defensive tackle for the EWSC Savages. Several CBC football players followed Coach Dave Holmes to the Cheney campus to try and help turn around a mediocre football program. The number he wore was 57.

During Ken’s senior season the freshmen were eligible to play on the varsity at the NAIA level. One young athlete from Tekoa was a standout and Ken noticed. The kid’s name was Bill ‘Bink’ Wall and he was quite a linebacker. Wall would earn a black helmet indicating extra effort and solid hits. Paul Horak from Odessa also wore a black helmet. Since there were only two or three Eastern players that wore them they were very noticeable by the opposing team more so after a bone crushing hit.

Before the season was over Ken told Bink Wall that he expected great things from the former Tekoa Tiger. He also said that he would like him to wear number 57 and wear it proudly. Wall did wear number 57 for his last three years. His senior year he would be a Little All American and the Savages went on a playoff run only to lose in the final but earning a runner-up finish in the 1967 season. Eastern was a very good team that year and Holmes put into place a blue print on how to build a winner.

Bill Will graduated from Eastern with a degree in military science. He was sent to Vietnam where he was killed in action on April 1, 1970. As a history teacher after graduating from Eastern Kenny G would wonder why we could send kids to war when so many people hated what was going on? Ken also knew that if he could he would make sure Bink Wall’s memory would live on.

A few years ago Ken was researching scholarships at Eastern. He wanted to put some money towards a scholarship and add to it to be fully funded. Several of us have donated to the Garmann/Wall 57 scholarship and this year will be the first year that a young man will earn that scholarship. Coach Aaron Best also wore number 57 when he played for EWU in the 1990s.

This year I was able to attend the Red-White Spring football game at EWU because they switched it to Friday night instead of Saturday afternoon when I would be helping at the Undeberg Invitational. When I sat down I looked around and about 15 rows below where I was sitting I saw a guy wearing a 57 shirt with his name on the back. So I sent the picture to Ken and he said I should go and meet the parents.

So I did and I explained the details and the whys of the scholarship and this couple were pleased that I took the time to visit. With only a couple of minutes left in the scrimmage Mom come up the stairs and asks me to come down to the field to meet their son. She said, “They let family onto the field so please come down.” So I did and this kid from Forks, Washington is a really nice kid. At 6’3” and 300 pounds he towered over me with a million-dollar smile. I had to get a picture that I sent to Ken and it made his day.

A couple of weeks ago the EWU football coaches came to Ritzville to golf and I told them about the experience I had with Luke and his family and they raved about this kid. How he battled back from an injury as a sophomore and that he was also a captain for the team. The Garmann/Wall scholarship is going to a well deserving young man and I can hardly wait to see him play this fall.

— Dale Anderson is a Ritzville-based sports columnist.

 

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