Four Former Blazers Bound for Centralia College Hall of Fame
By Jordan Nailon
The Centralia College Sports Hall of Fame will grow a little bit longer on Saturday when four alumni are inducted during a set of public ceremonies.
The Hall of Fame class of 2020 includes former Trailblazer athletes who began competed as early as 1956 and as recently as 2006. The quartet of honorees include Rudy Gideon, Skip Friese, Richard Moore and Marcus Hinton.
“Saturday we will have a luncheon to honor the four newest members to be inducted in the Hall of Fame [and] the lunch will start at 1 p.m. in the TransAlta Commons (TAC building),” wrote Centralia College athletic director Bob Peters in an email. “Each inductee will be introduced and recognized during the luncheon.”
Peters noted that he expects there will be plenty of stories shared during the ceremonial breaking of bread. The inductees will also be presented with commemorative plaques at halftime of the women’s basketball game in Michael Smith Gymnasium that starts at 5 p.m. later that day.
Rudy Gideon was a member of the Blazers baseball team from 1956-58. A press release from the Centralia College noted that “Gideon is part of what is commonly called ‘the last generation that did not play Little League baseball.’”
Gideon made up for lost time with the Blazers, winning a Southwest Conference championship in 1957 while also earning valedictorian honors. After his time in Centralia Gideon went on to play one professional season in the Appalachian League in addition to spending a spring training with the Chicago Cubs in 1958. Gideon went on to coach Babe Ruth and Little League teams for more than a decade and umpired Little League games for four years.
Skip Friese also started out at Centralia College in 1956 and played baseball. Friese was a part of the final graduating class at Lebam High School before it consolidated with Willapa Valley. He played six-man football there and was a part of Lebam’s only basketball team that qualified for the state tournament.
A unique talent in any era, Friese was a multi-sport star and the only Trailblazer to earn six letters — two in basketball, two in football, one in track and one in baseball. The college press release noted that, “He was known as a quick, speedy, and scrappy player who led by example. His work ethic was legendary. At only 5-foot-7 tall, he averaged 18 points per game in basketball and was in the starting lineup for two years in both football and basketball.”
After Centralia College, Friese was offered to tryout for the University of Washington but elected to marry his college sweetheart and start a family, eventually moving back to Lebam to start Half Moon Ranch and raise his six children.
One of his son’s Rob Friese, who was superintendent and a coach at Willapa Valley High School, said he had no idea how talented his father was until he came across newspaper clippings.
“He was so humble,” said Rob, who is in Eastern Washington University’s Hall of Fame after a decorated football career with the Eagles as a defensive back. “He never talked or bragged. That’s just how he was. He’s too proud to brag on himself. He instilled that in all of us [kids].”
Richard Moore attended Centralia College from 1962-64 and played both baseball and basketball. During his time with the Blazers, Moore was teamed up with Michael Smith and Jerry “Hardrock” Woods, which the college dubbed the “Fearsome Threesome.”
Moore continued competing on the court and the diamond even after he left Centralia. He played 15 years of basketball out of Castle Rock along with two decades of competitive fastpitch during which he won a Washington state fastpitch championship with the Boondox Tavern team from Longview. Additionally, Moore umpired high school and college baseball for more than 50 years, college softball for 25 years and spent three decades refereeing high school football and basketball.
Marcus Hinton is a name that’s likely to ring a bell with the Blazer faithful thanks to a strong resume and an understandable recency bias. Hinton played basketball at Centralia College from 2005-06, at one point averaging 23 points per game and leading the league in scoring. Tabbed as the team captain, Hinton led the Blazers to a fifth place finish in the old NWAAC tournament and earned fifth team All-League honors, along with being named to the NWAAC All-Star second team.
Hinton went on to become team captain at Eastern Washington University and set the single-game record for 3-point percentage thanks to a six-for-six effort. He was also named to the Dean’s List twice with a 3.5 GPA.
The women’s basketball game against Pierce College is set to tip off at 5 p.m. Halftime Hall of Fame ceremonies are expected to begin around 5:45 p.m. Centralia College is located at 600 Centralia College Boulevard.