Vandal spirit is not a tangible thing. It can not be measured or held in one’s hands. However, it can be felt.
Vandal spirit hung heavy in the air of the International Ballroom of the Bruce Pitman Center Friday evening for the Idaho Athletic Department Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony.
The department inducted its ninth class of alumni, who ranged from basketball players to football players to lifetime donors.
Guests mingled during cocktail hour, snacking on cheese cubes and grapes. After light chit-chat, attendees sat down for dinner.
Ryan Phillips gave his keynote speech before the presentation of awards. When Phillips chose Idaho, it meant turning down two offers from Pac-10 schools. People called him crazy, but now he asks them who was really crazy.
“(Idaho) is an awesome place,” he said. “You can succeed when you come to the University of Idaho.”
Phillips said the history of the Vandals originated in Europe.
History describes, after a brutal beating by the Romans, the Vandals took a calculated approach to revenge. The group marched from Eastern Europe to the Mediterranean, got on boats, and went to modern-day Tunisia.
“They became sailors,” Phillips said. “Why would they do that? They weren’t running. They went into Northern Africa … which back then was Carthage … and they took all their strength and took over Carthage, which was the breadbasket of the Roman Empire. They then choked off the Roman Empire.”
The Vandals were equal-opportunity destroyers, Phillips said.
He described how the group then went to Rome and met the Romans. They begged for mercy and the Vandals did not grant it.
“The lowercase v is vandalism because that’s what they did to Rome,” he said. “My point being, I think there’s a lot of parallels to those Vandals and us Vandals.”
Phillips said both groups of Vandals believed, invested in themselves and were leaders.
Then, the plaques came out.
Packey Boyle was an athletic trainer for the U.S. Olympic ski team. He worked at Idaho after time at Arizona. He died in 1972.
Doug Fisher was a dual-sport athlete for Idaho, competing in football and track and field. He qualified for the NCAA tournament for the discus. Fisher coached and taught in Moscow after graduation. He passed in 2016. His wife, Joy, accepted the award on his behalf.
“I know that Doug would be honored and humbled to have his name added to the University of Idaho Hall of Fame with so many others he respected,” Joy said.
Joy said a friend of Doug’s texted her the other day, saying he could imagine Doug grinning and doing a fist pump in the air in celebration of his induction.
“I think that’s the perfect image,” she said.
Bud and June Ford are regular supporters, helping renovate the Kibbie Dome. They were honored with the Bud and June Ford room in the Dome, used for banquets and events. June passed away recently. Their son, Charlie, attended the event with his father.
“It’s not just athletes that contribute to the success of our students and our athletic programs,” Idaho president Chuck Staben said. “It’s made possible by generous support. I want to thank Bud and June. A great example of people who stepped up, who care about our programs, care about our student-athletes and are helping give them opportunities.”
Tom Hennessey, former Idaho football player, was a key factor in Idaho’s successful run in the Big Sky Conference during the 1980s. He still holds the single-season record of 180 tackles. He played football with Scott Linehan, the father of junior quarterback Matt Linehan.
Moscow native Kelli Johnson was a star guard for the Idaho women’s basketball from 1994-98. She is a sports reporter for CSN Bay Area.
“I’m very humbled and honored to be here,” Johnson said. “I grew up in the gym, it was basketball that I fell in love with. I knew I wanted to play college basketball and there was never a doubt in my mind I was going to do it.”
Johnson said she credits her parents for her work ethic today.
Fisher was Johnson’s elementary school physical education teacher, and was a student-teacher with Johnson’s father.
“He really was the beginning of my athletic career,” Johnson said. “He used to challenge me with the fitness tests. I remember wanting to do as many pull-ups as I could for him. As kids, we all looked up to Doug. He really was one-of-a-kind.”
Ken Maren of Milwaukee, Wisconsin, played post for Idaho starting in 1957. He stayed on after graduation as an assistant coach. After, Maren taught at Post Falls High School, and then returned to Wisconsin. He coached and taught until retiring.
The 1959 Pacific Coast Conference Northern Division men’s golf championship team is being inducted as a group. John Rosholt, Rusty Sheppard, Don Modie, Ray Kowallis, Bob Pierce, Dave Smith, Jim Kraus and Norm Johnson made up the only championship golf team for over 40 years. The team posted a 7-1-1 record on the hunt for the title.
Tess Fox can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @tesstakesphotos