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Sports through the years ’70s-’80s

William James

The Broadside

 

 

This second part of a three part series will cover sports at Central Oregon Community College from the 1970s through the 1980s.

Since we last left the history of sports at COCC, the Intramural program has been formed, basketball had some highs and lows, and we saw some historic happenings. More sports are coming on the horizon as we take a look now at the 1970s and the 1980s.

1970s

Continuing the innovative trend of the sports program, starting in 1970 an outdoor activities class was formed— then known as “Outdoor Practicium”—which taught wilderness survival, camping, and fishing among other things.

It gained immediate popularity and the group experienced an abundance of members for its inaugural sign-ups.

On the flip side in the competitive world, COCC golfer Jim Wilkinson finished in 7th place at the the Junior College Golf Tournament despite having to play the second half of his holes barefoot thanks to heat blisters.

Nearing the end of 1970, COCC began construction on what would later become the Mazama Gym.

The COCC Bobcats opened conference basketball play in 1971 by clobbering Lane Community College 115-107 starting off a monster year for the squad.

The January issue of The Broadside in 1970 was the first to showcase pro basketball results as the National Basketball League’s Milwaukee Bucks defeated the then Minneapolis Lakers snapping their undefeated streak.

Karate was also introduced as a sport and a physical education class, which gained immediate popularity among the students.

Tragedy

A tragedy started 1973 for the COCC basketball team but not only  did they answer the call of duty, but went above and beyond it.

On the way home after losing a game, the bus pulled off on the side of the road as the players noticed that a car holding four people, including two children, was involved in a crash with another bus carrying the local high school team.

Immediately jumping into action, the ball club helped extricate wounded people from the totaled car.

One player even had to use a saw to get one of the children out of the backseat; it was so crushed that not even the player’s freakish strength was able to open it enough.

“He’s one of the strongest guys I’ve ever seen,” one of his teammates noted in that issue of The Broadside.

A member of the basketball team at the time and a familiar face at COCC, Intramural and Club Sports Director Bill Douglass  helped direct traffic away from the scene of the crash.

A huge statement was made by the COCC wrestling program in 1974 as Frank Armstrong won the Region 18 state wrestling title with relative ease in the 162-lb division.

In basketball, COCC defeated Blue Mountain  92-91 in a tough contest starting a four game win streak guaranteeing the Bobcats a spot in that year’s playoffs.

And, partially as a joke, the first-ever “streaking” team was formed by students who wanted the popular prank to become an intramural competition.

The year 1975 comes and goes with a historic victory as the Bobcat ski team places first in their conference for the year, but unfortunately the success does not bleed off on the basketball team as they start dropping games after winning four straight. They get things going in the right direction just in the nick of time though to finish in a five way tie for first place.

Bob-kittens and Folf

The next year showcases more domination for the ski team as they win again, this time conquering the Pacific Lutheran Invitational. The tennis team also starts things off on a good note as the Bobcats go 5-1, and the Lady Bobcats (or as they were known back then, Bob-kittens) go 4-2.  COCC also entered the Oregon Conference track meet sponsored by Lane Community College.

The next year, 1977, was a slow year for sports, as men’s tennis swept the singles competitions for the year and COCC took first place in their division after three blistering wins in basketball.

The following year picked up steam however as Glenn M. Kinney departed COCC after spending three years coaching the basketball team, as he was named the new head coach at Portland State University.

Also the first “Folf” or Frisbee golf match was organized at COCC, which was immensely popular and is still played as part of the Intramural program today.

High enrollment for the soccer class highlighted 1979, as well as the new-look soccer team defeating Bend High School at Vince Genna Stadium in a 9-3 drubbing of the Lava Bears.

On top of that the Bobcats track and field team placed third at the national competition, being beaten out by a long-shot by Lane Community College.
1980s

 

The 1980s actually showed a weakness in the sports program for the first time, as it was discontinued for the time being due to budget cuts. Not to be denied, the sports enthusiasts at COCC formed the Community College Sports Program in 1980 to continue to offer kids a chance to play. A College Sports Committee also forms that year to help allocate funding.

Also 20 COCC students braved the whipping wind in a co-ed canoe race.

In 1981, the last year in this decade to have prominent college sports coverage in The Broadside, the newly debuted track that was completed at the end of the 1970s hosted a three- way track meet between COCC, Chemetka and Clackamas community colleges.

Because of the budget woes, sports fell off the horizon in the 1980s.

More focus on national sports in The Broadside was then the order of the day.

In the final installment of this series, which will cover the 1990s to the present day in 2010, we will see whether the Intramural sports program was able to recover and how.

You may contact William James at wjames@cocc.edu

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