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Winter 2004 | Volume 26, Number 5 | Athletics
Legends of the Falcons

Five More SPU Giants Inducted Into the Hall of Fame

GIANTS OF SEATTLE Pacific University’s rich athletic past and present returned to the campus on Friday, January 23, when the Falcon Legends Athletic Hall of Fame inducted its second charter class.

Former KOMO TV sports director Bruce King served as master of ceremonies and SPU President Philip Eaton bestowed the awards at the packed luncheon event held during Homecoming Week.

In all, one coach and four athletes were inducted into the 2004 class: basketball coaching great Les Habegger, soccer scoring sensation Ken Covell ’75, record-setting track and field sprinter Roy Duncan ’58, gymnastics champion Debbie Halle Jackson ’77 and tennis ace Bob Thompson ’69. In addition, the late Jack MacDonald ’50, a Falcon Legend cofounder, longtime booster and former basketball letterman, was given the first Lifetime Achievement Award posthumously.

Habegger has been gone from the campus for nearly 30 years, coaching in the NBA and then in Europe, but he says he left his heart at SPU. “I’m elated, excited and very thankful for this honor,” explains the hugely successful Seattle Pacific basketball coach from 1957–75. “This is very meaningful to me. My time at Seattle Pacific was special. I experienced some wonderful things after I left for the Sonics, but I left part of my heart at this place, and it will never leave.”

Now retired and living in Phoenix, Habegger reversed the Falcons’ fortunes shortly after taking over as head coach in 1958. It took two years to crack .500 and three more to make the NCAA tournament. By 1965, SPC won the West Regional and advanced to the Elite Eight. The next campaign commenced with an upset of then-Division I Seattle University. In all, his teams won 267 games in 17 seasons and went to the NCAA tournament six times. The four other Hall of Fame inductees were all students during Habegger’s 20-year run as athletic director.

The accomplishments of Duncan have become more and more impressive over time. He remains the greatest sprinter to ever wear an SPU singlet, not just because he was the most decorated (a three-time All-American in the 100- and 220-yard dashes), but because his school records have gone untouched for 45 years. Originally from Wenatchee, Duncan now lives in Anacortes.

Thompson set the standard for all tennis players at Seattle Pacific. In his senior season, Thompson reached the quarterfinal round of the NCAA Championships in both singles and doubles (with partner Wilbert Look). The native of Vancouver, Washington, and current resident of Salem, Oregon, finished with a career record of 66-20 in singles and 56-23 in doubles — the most of any player.

Covell’s arrival at Seattle Pacific coincided with a reversal of fortune in Coach Cliff McCrath’s fledgling soccer program. The team went from winless before Covell to four consecutive trips to the playoffs, including a 1974 NCAA championship game appearance. A two-time all-region selection, Covell held every major scoring record upon graduation. He resides in Denver, where he graduated from Lincoln High School.

Jackson was a member of the original gymnastics team that placed fifth in the national (all-division) championship, and she punctuated that first season by winning the school’s first national title, on the uneven bars. She graduated with each of the five school records and was a seven-time All-American. Married to Western Washington basketball coach Brad Jackson, she lives in Bellingham.

MacDonald was a member of the Falcon basketball teams in 1945 and 1946, but his demonstrated allegiance to his alma mater lasted well over 50 years and touched nearly every sport. He later became longtime president of the Falcon Club booster group and was the spearhead for creating the Falcon Legends Hall of Fame. He died November 28, 2002 — two months before the first class was inducted.

The list of presenting speakers for this year’s Falcon Legends luncheon was also a who’s who of Falcon athletics. Joining longtime soccer coach Cliff McCrath were former tennis coach, NCAA faculty representative and professor emeritus Wes Lingren; gymnast Jill Johnson Welker; basketball letterman Bob Hathaway; and former SPU Board of Trustees Chair Bud McDole.

Hall of Fame classes are limited to five inductees each year and must have no more than one non-athlete represented. Nominations for the induction Class of 2005 are now being accepted. To make your nomination, call 206/281-2085.


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With years of experience in business and higher education, President Philip Eaton brings a unique perspective to the subject of good business. “For me,” he says, “business is all about investing in a worthy vision.”

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SPU faces challenges in its efforts to retain and maintain Camp Casey while working to preserve its historic and environmental resources. [Campus]

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Professors of physics and art probe the “brilliant bridge” between their two disciplines. [Faculty]

You Can Go Home Again! Hundreds of SPU alumni and families returned to campus for Homecoming. See photos of “Discover More in ‘04.” [alumni]

My Response
Professor Rick Steele writes a letter to SPU community members about the “divine grace” he and his daughter, Sarah, experienced at “The Sacred Sounds of Christmas.”