Willamette is continuously adding former student-athletes to the Willamette Athletics hall of fame, but the process of getting into the hall of fame is not often talked about. Athletic Director Rob Passage explained how athletes are chosen and what it means to be honored in this way.
According to the Bearcat hall of fame website, “The purpose of the Willamette University Athletic Hall of Fame is to formally recognize outstanding contributions to the heritage and tradition of the Bearcat intercollegiate athletic program. Criteria for selection includes achievements while at the University, plus accomplishments in sports later in life.”
Passage elaborated on this, saying: “It is primarily based on athletic achievement while at Willamette and that usually means they are individuals who have been All-Americans, conference champions, school record holders, etc. In some cases they may have been folks who also experienced success in sport after Willamette, either as a competitor or a coach.”
This is an acknowledgment that athletics are a lifelong endeavor for some, on and off the field. With so many athletes coming through Willamette's programs, Passage also explained the long process of selecting athletes for this honor. “We have an executive committee who is responsible for collecting nominations, updating candidate information and organizing the voting. They bring nominees forward to a selection committee that is made up of a combination of current coaches and staff, former coaches and staff, alumni and current members of the hall of fame. The selection committee voting is what determines each year’s class of inductees.”
The range of people on this committee includes athletes that attended Willamette 50 years ago up until now. This allows the committee have people who know all the nominees, making it easier to get a picture of who they are inducting in the hall of fame. With annual hall of fame ceremonies, there are plenty of opportunities for these athletes to be honored. These ceremonies are not large affairs, but that doesn’t keep the athletes of the past from connecting with the athletes of the present. Passage explained: “The ceremony is really for the inductees, their families and former teammates. We do invite local alumni, athletic staff and current hall of fame members, but haven’t typically invited students. There are often efforts by coaches to connect the inductees with their current teams at other times that weekend. I know that the swimmers inducted [this] past year went to the pool on Saturday morning and a men’s soccer inductee met with the team before their game the day of the ceremony.”
This year's ceremony will be held on Sept. 12, and all the current hall of fame members and information about their accomplishments can be found on wubearcats.com.