Odessa High and Big Bend Community College joined forces last weekend for the eighth annual Ryan Floch Memorial basketball games in memory of the late former Tigers and Vikings star.
Ryan, his brother Drew and cousin Jamie Starr drowned tragically, along with their grandfather, Rev. Tom Starr, when their boat capsized while salmon fishing off the Washington coast near La Push in late August of 2001.
The games benefit the Big Bend Foundation, providing scholarships to incoming students. The Ryan Floch Scholarship has gone to a youngster from a Class B school to continue basketball, but can go to anyone, said Big Bend basketball coach Mark Poth.
“I believe I heard them say in the introductions, they’ve raised in the neighborhood of $30,000,” said legendary longtime Tigers coach, teacher and now bus driver Myron Kramer, who returned to coach basketball this season for the first time since last coaching Ryan and his son Scott, who were best friends.
Each year the schools alternate sites – they are located some 45 miles apart. Last Saturday’s four games were at Big Bend.
“It was as tragic as it gets,” said Kramer, recalling the accident. “My son and I were in harvest. Ryan stopped on the way through and gave my wife a piece of paper that said, ‘this is Ryan’s room.’ ”
He, Scott and two others were to rent a house in Odessa. After learning of the catastrophe, a group of youngsters gathered at his house, said Kramer, and were bent on going to help search for the young men. He rounded up vehicles, went with them, and had reached Ephrata before getting a call from family that any attempt would be futile, so they returned.
“It’s still in the kids’ hearts,” Kramer said.
Devastated, parents Clay and Jewel Floch eventually left Odessa and moved to Spokane, Kramer said. Today they are in Tianjin, China, working with underprivileged children at Shepherd’s Field Children’s Village. They sent an e-mail to be read prior to the memorial games.
It read in part, “You have so blessed our lives and been a part of healing our hearts. We miss Ryan and Drew so much. We are so thankful for those who have been a part of our lives and were a part of their lives. As you look around at those in the stands with you, remember how important each life is and how valuable you are to those around you.”
The memory of their children live nearly a decade later with these annual games and the memorial scholarship.
Today’s the day
Today is the final day for high schools throughout the state to make public their decision whether to remain in the assigned athletic classification or opt up for 2010-11 and ‘11-12. In January, final designations will be made.
Both the Greater Spokane League’s Mead and Gonzaga Prep will remain 4A. After weighing their options, Mead activities coordinator Dick Cullen said, and working with a committee of parents, coaches and administrators, opting up seemed to be for the best.
“Friday, on the telephone, we opted up at the same time,” Cullen said of the Mead-Gonzaga Prep decisions.
With their decision, the GSL will likely have six 4A (joining Lewis and Clark, Ferris, Central Valley and either Rogers or University) and four 3A schools, with East Valley dropping to 2A and entering the Great Northern League. The EV school board meets at 9 a.m. today to render the decision.
“It’s tough,” said Knights activities coordinator Joe Kostecka. “Obviously, the GSL has a lot of plusses.”
But an enrollment decline of 150 students or more over the next two years weighs heavily in the decision. “The coaches wanted to stay and play where the numbers are,” he said.
That is the driving reason University will likely be 3A next year and not opt up, AC Ken VanSickle said.
“We’re either the 12th largest 3A school or second smallest 4A school,” he said. “Where will our kids have the best opportunity?”
Whatever University, Pasco or Decatur decide will determine whether Rogers remains 4A or is bumped down to 3A, said Pirates AC Eric Anderson.
“As of last week we’re the smallest 4A school,” he said. “Our hopes are for either (of those schools) to opt up, but it’s not likely. We’ll see how it goes. Where we fall we fall.”
Pat Pfeifer, the former Ferris football and track coach, longtime Lewis and Clark assistant football coach and head track coach, was honored by his peers this weekend with three statewide awards.
He received the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Washington State Coaches Association for dedication to athletes as a coach in 96 sports seasons.
He was presented The Golden Helmet Award for 42 years service to football, 12 as head coach at Ferris, from the Washington State Football Coaches Association.
And he was inducted into the Washington State Track Coaches Hall of Fame for his 38-year involvement, 26 as a head coach.
Pfeifer, home-bound with terminal cancer, was presented the awards by Central Valley football coach Rick Giampietri and track coach Chuck Bowden, WSTCA Hall of Fame committee chair. Giampietri said that Jerry Parrish, secretary of the WSCA, and Ed Laulainen, clinic chairman for the WSFCA, were to attend, but poor weather in Seattle cancelled their flight.