BELLINGHAM, Wash. -
One of the most beloved and respected people in the history of Western Washington University athletics, former men's basketball coach Chuck Randall, passed away March 9, 2016, at the age of 89 from congestive heart failure.
Randall, who coached the Vikings for 18 seasons from 1963 to 1981 and posted a record of 275-186, was named the WWU men's Coach of the Century for 1900 to 1999. He received hall of fame honors from Central Valley High School, National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics, Western and Eastern Washington University.
On May 6, 2015, Randall received the Basketball Old Timers Man of the Year Award at the 63rd annual Basketball Old-Timers Banquet.
Randall's best Western team was the 1971-72 squad that finished 26-4 and reached the NAIA national quarterfinals, winning conference and NAIA District 1 titles. The Vikings won their first 21 games, and took a memorable two-out-of-three district championship series over Eastern Washington, then won twice at nationals in Kansas City, Missouri, before falling. He was named NAIA Area I Coach of the Year that season.
Off the court, Randall began the first summer basketball camp for youth in the state of Washington in 1960 and was an important innovator in the development of the breakaway rim.
After retiring from WWU, for the next eight years Randall took college students to play basketball and study in Mexico. He also served as a volunteer assistant for the WWU women's basketball team for a couple of seasons and attended nearly every practice for both the Viking men's and women's hoop squads for many years, only in the last few seasons cutting back to attending just the home games for those two teams.
"UCLA had its John Wooden, Western had its Chuck Randall," said WWU Athletics Historian Paul Madison. "He was a great coach and an even better person. He had a knack for making people feel better about themselves and bringing people together."
Born in Farmington, Wash., on Dec, 15, 1926, Randall was raised in Veradale, located just east of Spokane. He was a three-year letter winner in football, basketball and baseball at Central Valley High School, being a member of two Bear hoop squads that reached the state tournament.
After serving in the army as a paratrooper during World War II, Randall received his bachelor of arts degree in 1949 at Eastern Washington University, where he played baseball, and obtained his master's degree at Washington State University in 1954.
After teaching and coaching four years at Opportunity Grade School, Randall moved up to the high school ranks where he coached at Riverside, Republic, Lindbergh, Freeman and Lind High Schools, all located in eastern Washington.
During that time, Randall founded the Conifer Basketball Boys Basketball Camp in Washington. Later, a second camp was begun at Snow Valley, Calif. The Washington camp was located at Snoqualmie Pass for 10 years before having short stints at Holiday Hills and Mount St. Michaels, both near Spokane.
During the summer of 1961, while working at his camp in southern California, Randall was hired to coach at El Segundo High School in Los Angeles, one of the state's largest schools. In his only season there, Randall directed the Eagles, who were picked to finish last, to their first league title since 1936 and was named Coach of the Year.
Randall was hired at Western the next season. Four times he was named Evergreen Conference Coach of the Year and earned similar recognition from District 1 of the NAIA on three occasions.
Randall was known as the "Coaches' Coach" for the high percentage of his players who went on to coach at every level -- elementary, junior high, high school, community college and university.
In the summer of 1968, Randall took his WWU team on a tour of Asia and Australia under the auspices of People-to-People Program International, the Vikings winning 15 of 21 games.
On Feb. 12, 1975, Randall suffered a severe heart attack. He underwent open-heart surgery that summer and took a one-year leave of absence. He had another major heart attack on Jan. 23, 2013.
Randall also coached baseball at WWU, directing the Vikings to two national tournament appearances, placing fifth in 1964 and eighth in 1965.
In all, Randall coached basketball 35 years, amassing 516 victories.
Randall is survived by his wife of 68 years Doris (Reihl), three children, daughter Jennifer and sons Jeff and John; and granddaughter Novella.
In Memory of Coach Chuck Randall
Celebration of Life Service at Garden United Methodist Church Apr. 2, 2016 -- Bellingham, Wash.
On March 9th, two major things happened with the passing of Chuck Randall. One, heaven will never be the same, and two, God has his hands full.
A well-known saying these days is how important it is to think out of the box. I can tell you, Randall never thought in the box. He was truly one of a kind. There will never be another like him.
I'd like to look at Coach Randall's life through a poem, a song and a prayer, with a few thoughts and stories interwoven.
The Hundredth Boy
Randall's mother Novella, who passed away when Randall was eight years old, had a vision for what she wanted her son's life to be and wrote a poem for him, entitled "The Hundredth Boy."
The piece was adapted from a poem, "The Thousandth Man" by Rudyard Kipling.
The qualities brought out in those stanzas were standing up for your beliefs, no matter what; the importance of true friendships, that relationships are more important than wealth, and standing by your friends and not giving into the world was an absolute.
Let me read a couple of stanzas ...
The Thousandth Man
One man in a thousand, Solomon says, Will stick more close than a brother. And it's worthwhile seeking him half your days If you find him before the other. Nine nundred and ninety-nine depend On what the world sees in you, But the Thousandth man will stand your friend With the whole round world agin you.
'Tis neither promise nor prayer nor show Will settle the finding for 'ee. Nine hundred and ninety-nine of 'em go By your looks, or your acts, or your glory. But if he finds you and you find him. The rest of the world don't matter; For the Thousandth Man will sink or swim With you in any water.
You can use his purse with no more talk Than he uses yours for his spendings, And laugh and meet in your daily walk As though there had been no lendings. Nine hundred and ninety-nine of 'em call For silver and gold in their dealings; But the Thousandth Man he's worth 'em all, Because you can show him your feelings.
His wrong's your wrong, and his right's your right, In season or out of season. Stand up and back it in all men's sight -- With that for your only reason! Nine hundred and ninety-nine can't bide The shame or mocking or laughter, But the Thousandth Man will stand by your side To the gallows-foot -- and after!
His mother's prayers were answered as Coach embraced and embodied those ideals.
Listen to this description of Coach written in 1970 by Seattle P-I sports reporter Blaine Johnson ...
"You may argue his attitudes, you can challenge his reasoning, you might even regard him with a cynical despair, and yet you'll probably come away somehow refreshed and stimulated by his depth of conviction.
Chuck Randall -- a stump preacher with a basketball court for a cathedral, a country boy's smile for armament, an icy-clear stand on what's right and a battle-to-the-death determination to do the same.
As basketball coach at Western Washington State College, Randall ... expounds "old fashioned" philosophies that God, total commitment, sacrifice and clean living are what life's about."
Before I go any further, there are a couple of things that need to be said.
This one is a no brainer. That came when Randall was a student at Eastern Washington after serving in World War II. There he met a very beautiful and very intelligent young lady from Walla Walla by the name of Doris Riehl. Fortunately, for Coach, she accepted his proposal, they were married in 1948 and she stood by his side for 68 years.
If there was one thing that Randall would want me to say today it's simply this - Husbands make your wives your top priority.
Chuck and Doris were blessed with three children -- Jennifer, Jeff and John, daughter in law Hideko and granddaughter Novella. They had such great feelings for their beloved Pappy.
Speaking of love
Coach touched and impacted hundreds, make that thousands of lives - as a teacher, as a coach, through camps, through business ventures, and life in general. Was there anyone more universally loved than Chuck Randall? You would be hard-pressed to find someone.
He had countless friends, and by this I mean really close friends. From his childhood, from his college days, from each of his coaching stops. You couldn't go anywhere with him without someone recognizing him and wanting to spend time in conversation.
Randall had no pretenses. No one was more comfortable in his own skin and had more confidence in who he was. He could be talking with nationally known coaches like Dean Smith and Bobby Knight at the Final Four about his Slam-Dunk Rim or conversing with and helping Snoose, a person who once occupied an abandoned chicken house near Randall's home out by Lake Samish. Everyone was special and important to Coach.
To know Randall was to be versed in his vocabulary ... Randall didn't swear, but he had sayings, certainly ones his players knew, that he used when he wasn't happy.
It might be, "Lower than whale manure," which of course was the lowest thing on the planet, or "Titmouse," which is the smallest bird on earth, or "Cob", or worse "Dirty Cob" (I'm not going into an explanation of that one), and, of course, the classic, "Dead from your belly button both ways."
But there were other Randall sayings which were much more uplifting:
Do what you know
Stick and stay, it's bound to pay
There's always room for cream at the top
Always shoot for the stars, because if you miss you can always grab the Moon
Pay the price and
Care enough to cry
Above all, Randall was a competitor, in everything
It could be in ordering meals at restaurants when he would determine who had gotten the best order.
Cards - the Hearts games he had with many of his assistants on road trips were legendary.
Driving (one time he had set the speed and wanted to see how long he could keep it there, so when he got boxed in he wanted to pass going on the edge of the road)
Golf - he wanted to join the senior, senior circuit -- let's be honest, he cheated
And in any of these competitions, if things were going poorly for him, there was always the out of "This one's for the championship."
After undergoing open-heart surgery, Randall's goal was to be the fastest patient at getting back on his feet.
And let's not forget the heart attacks ... The one he suffered in 1975 was the most severe anyone had ever survived in Whatcom County at that time.
No one enjoyed the end of a close basketball game more than Coach Randall. In fact, I almost think he worked to make it that way. A lot of his coaching was predicated for moments like those.
Randall was always into something. His mind was constantly going at a 100 miles per hour
Oftentimes it was real estate, but there were many others Ironwood from Mexico Gadgets for those with prostate problems Ways to make putting easier And that's a very short list ...
And there were other things he got into, like ....
Trying to bring/smuggle a kangaroo out of Australia Purchasing a monkey and bringing it home (Doris attained Sainthood on that one) Prospecting for gold
Ted Fromm - I was glad that he had taught me to always move my feet (on defense) when a grizzled old prospector came to the door and shouted, "Move away from that door, this shotgun makes a pretty big hole."
In the late 1960s, Western hired a professor Dr. Glen Albaugh from Hayward State who was very much into Sports Psychology. One time he gave Randall a test specifically designed for coaches. Randall scored in the 98th percentile. Later I asked Coach how he would have felt had he not scored high. Without hesitation, he answered, "Then I'd known that it was a bad test."
Actually, Randall was into sports psychology long before it came into vogue.
There was the time before a game with Seattle Pacific when he had his team warm up in a practice gym and not appear on the court until right before tip-off. He then had his shortest player jump against the opposition's All-America center. Western won the tip and the game.
Another time Randall was in church, this church as a matter of fact, and heard a young lady (Marji Stoner) sing "The Impossible Dream." He was so moved by it that a few days later he had her sing it to his team in the locker room before a game. Western won that game too.
Chuck Randall really was a modern day Don Quixote, the Man of La Mancha. He made charges at numerous windmills. He understood that it was the effort and the striving that counted most no matter the odds.
Man of La Mancha
Don Quixote and The Impossible Dream (The Quest)
To dream the impossible dream To fight the unbeatable foe To bear with unbearable sorrow To run where the brave dare not go To right the unrightable wrong To love pure and chaste from afar To try when your arms are too weary To reach the unreachable star This is my quest, to follow that star, No matter how hopeless, no matter how far To fight for the right without question or cause To be willing to march into hell for a heavenly cause And I know if I'll only be true to this glorious quest That my heart will lie peaceful and calm when I'm laid to my rest
There's no doubt that was the case with Coach.
Athlete's Prayer/Coaches' Coach
Chuck Randall's basketball legacy was much more than as an innovator (summer camp) or as an inventor (breakaway rim) ... He was first and foremost a coach.
He loved practices -- For many years after his college coaching days were over, he was up at Carver Gym, not just watching every home game, but nearly every men's and women's basketball practice.
In 1971-72, he guided the Vikings to a 26-4 record and the national quarterfinals. Western did not have a better season until the turn of the century. That team, which had so much success in such turbulent times, brought the college and community closer than I have ever seen it.
Randall was a defensive guru and a master of fundamentals, and that coupled with the intensity with which his teams always played - made Western a foe to be reckoned with.
Above all, Randall's teams were tight knit ... Team building was one of Randall's greatest gifts ... A visual example of that happened every night before a game when the players would come together in the locker room and say
The Athlete's Prayer
Be with us God, and help us win this contest of today, But let us hear with humble heart the praises people say, Let us be perfect in any form and let each aim be true, and let us take a certain pride in everything we do. But fill our souls with honesty and listen to our prayer, That every time we play the game, we play it fair and square. And every victory that we gain belongs at last to you, Because you give us all the strength to see each struggle through.
I'd like to close by reading a quote from Coach regarding one of those occasions...This happened at the end of the 1967-68 season when the junior varsity came into the locker room before a game and asked to say some heartfelt things to the varsity ...
"After the junior varsity finished, I asked them to join us in the `Athlete's Prayer.' We all got together in a circle, some players on one knee, others standing over, our hands together in the middle, and said the prayer. When we finished, nobody let go. I was afraid to look up because I had tears in my eyes. But when I did, I saw that every man there was crying.
Well, there's no doubt in my mind that I want to coach. There's no doubt in my mind that that was the greatest moment in my life. There's no doubt that all the wins that season were not as great as being able to experience that feeling of being together.
And that's what life is about. That's what you want in your family, that feeling of togetherness. To be involved in something and have your heart and soul in it enough to cry. And that's what you want in your school, your community, your country and the world.
That's what you want in every portion of life. To put your hands together with your school, your community and care for everyone in it.
You want to hold hands with your country. And care enough for it to pray about it and cry about it.
And, if you do this, well, someday there will be world peace. Because it starts right at home, and then in the community and it will spread to the world."
Randall did not achieve the national championship that he set as a goal every season, but I believe a more elusive goal was reached.
You can see it in the hearts of the people honoring him here today.
By Paul Madison who served 48 years as sports information director at WWU from 1966 to 2015
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