Catching Up with the Latest Nevada Hall of Fame Class
Written by Nevada media services intern Nick Saccomanno
The Wolf Pack inducted five former student-athletes and one former coach into the Nevada Athletics Hall of Fame Oct. 23-24. The six newest members of the Nevada Hall of Fame were feted on Friday, Oct. 23 during the annual Hall of Fame Dinner at the Silver Legacy. Here are the highlights of the speeches given at that dinner:
Her presenter might have said it best.
"Lisé Mackie was undoubtedly one of the most dominant swimmers ever to come out of the University of Nevada," former assistant swimming coach Glen Shonkwiler said.
Mackie accomplished more before she arrived on the campus of the University of Nevada than some swimmers accomplish in their entire four-year careers.
In 1992, she represented Australia in the Olympic Games in Barcelona, Spain, at the age of 16. When she arrived at Nevada, she started on a path that would make her one of the school's all-time greats in the pool. During the summer of 1996, Mackie was a part of the bronze medal-winning 200-meter freestyle relay team from Australia.
Eleven years after she graduated with a 3.92 GPA and a dual degree in international affairs and political science, Mackie still holds four school records. She ranks first in the 200-meter freestyle, 200-meter individual medley, 400-meter freestyle relay and 400-meter medley relay.
During her induction speech, Mackie talked about balancing her athletic accomplishments with her academics and her desire to become a well-traveled individual.
"In Australia, I was an athlete and an athlete only," she said. "When Mike Anderson recruited me, he talked about me being a college student, he talked about me being a traveler who just happened to be an athlete. That was the best recruiting speech I had ever heard"
Mackie also spoke about taking her experiences in the United States to other parts of the world. Born in Australia, educated in Reno and Switzerland (where she received her master's degree), Mackie currently resides in New Zealand. She recognizes that being well traveled gives her what foreign affairs students call "soft power." Soft power refers to a nations ability to engage with the rest of the nations of the world.
"When I go back to New Zealand, I take it upon myself to dispel rumors, I say 'you don't know the people I swam with, you don't know the people I went to school with,'" she said when speaking about the reputation of Americans abroad. "I have to say it was one of the best parts of me receiving a scholarship here."
DeShone Myles owns a few University of Nevada records, but his lead over the player in second place in one particular category says more than any other. Myles recorded 140 more tackles than Matt Clafton, who played for Nevada from 1988-1991, 528 in all.
Even more than the talent he displayed on the field, his coaches and teammates remember Myles for how others played when they were on the field with him and how he handled himself off of it. Ken Wilson, his presenter on induction night and linebacker coach at the University, made mention of it before he brought Myles to the stage.
"DeShone made people around him better... and he made it OK for them to be good citizens off it because that's how he lived his life," Wilson said.
Living and working in Las Vegas as a detective in the Las Vegas Police Department, Myles has continued to stress good citizenship in his life after football. Make no mistake, his accomplishments on the field are what got the former Wolf Pack star into the Hall of Fame, and there are plenty of stories that document them.
Wilson spoke about one particular night in Las Vegas, the only game Myles did not start in his career at Nevada, with particular fondness. As both men recalled it, they walked on the field before the 1995 Las Vegas Bowl and tried to determine if Myles could play. Just 22 days earlier he underwent an emergency appendectomy and only practiced once before the game.
After Myles made the decision to sit, Wilson told him to dress and support his teammates on the sidelines. Early in the first quarter of the game, Wolf Pack linebacker Mike Crawford, who was present at the induction ceremony, came off the field with an injury.
"Before I could turn to call another player into the game, I felt a rush of air go by me, it was DeShone," Wilson said. "One heck of a football game later, I asked him why he went in, and he told me he couldn't let his teammates down. It was the game that epitomized DeShone Myles and the way he played for this University."
Myles thanked his coaches and teammates for making him a better football player, and with two of his three children on the podium with him, for making him a man as well.
Mike Olivas, Bill Nicholson's roommate and teammate from 1961-63, mentioned a few things during his presentation of the former Wolf Pack basketball star.
He talked of course, about his accomplishments on the court. Nicholson was the Far West Conference player of the year in 1963 and an honorable mention All-American in 1964. He talked about Nicholson's desire to make a dollar and his ability to do so. Drawing some of the most resounding laughter from the crowd, he also mentioned some of the things that have changed over the years and some of the things that haven't.
"Back then the Virginia Street Gym was called the new gym," Olivas said. "The Little Waldorf was where the Eldorado is right now. Honestly the only thing that hasn't changed is the person we are honoring tonight, because he was bald back in college."
Proving that the bonds made in athletic competition never fade, teammates rekindled after 45 years away from the University to talk about how much they had grayed and about how different it was back then.
They even talked about how basketball saved their lives. Drawing on the relationship he had developed with personnel at Stead Air Force Base during his time at the University, Nicholson wanted desperately to become a pilot. He was, however, too tall by Army regulations.
With dedication and hard work and his long legs crammed in the cockpit, Nicholson became an Air Force pilot. He flew over 300 missions during the Vietnam War and returned to the ground safe after each one.
Staying in the air allowed for the other major successes in his life, which included a stint as appointments secretary to President Gerald Ford from 1974-77 and many successful years as a chief executive officer and chief operating officer for several companies. That also allowed for a memorable close to his induction speech.
"I'm proud to be the first one to say my life was saved by Wolf Pack basketball," he said.
In what was undoubtedly the most complete introduction of the evening, former Wolf Pack track coach Floyd Edsel told Bob Rautio's story in a way only a true friend could. He talked about Rautio being overlooked by many of the schools in the Far West Conference.
After coming to the University in 1961, Rautio won the first of his three conference titles in the javelin. His collegiate career was suspended due to military service in 1962, and he returned to Nevada in 1967. From 1967-68, Rautio continued to dominate the conference in the javelin, winning two more league championships.
Edsel talked about how Rautio was born to be a thrower, developing the massive shoulders and chest Rautio used to dominate during his career while rowing a small boat into the ocean off the Oregon coast on fishing trips.
Rautio's speech was short but filled with a true passion for his time at the University of Nevada.
"I appreciate everything, this is beautiful," Rautio said. "My time at Nevada has always held a special place in my heart." "I hope it stays that way, and I'm sure it always will."
Susan Eisele Whitehouse
Eisele Whitehouse was a 10-time Big West champion, winning five individual titles and five team titles while at Nevada. She was a four-time conference champion in the 200 backstroke. As the first woman to break 2:00 in the 200-meter backstroke and the University record holder in the same event, she left the program as arguably its most dominant backstroker.
Along with her many accomplishments in the pool, she grabbed up one more trophy during her time at the University, her husband, Justin, who was an athletic trainer for the Wolf Pack. The couple now has two children.
"He kept me through all my injuries my freshman year," Eisele Whitehouse said. "But he probably kept me in the training room a little longer then I need to be."
With a long list of people to thank - from her parents and siblings to the many fellow swimmers in attendance - Eisele Whitehouse showed that athletics at Nevada is a family affair. As a matter of fact, the entire swimming program showed just how tight a team can become. Aside from the two swimmers and coach that went in to the Hall of Fame, there were nearly 20 other former coaches and swimmers at the dinner who made their presence known all night with loud ovations and applause in support of their fellow water-lovers. They were a Pack on this night just as they were years ago.
In 1976, Ballew inherited a program that had never won a dual meet and had only three girls show up at their first practice and took that team to a national championship in seven years. Along with volunteer assistants, Ballew worked tireless hours to change the culture around the swimming and diving team.
"Jerry took over a team that had zero wins in the program's two first years and coached them to a 53-26 record in his seven-plus years," Whalen said. "He coached 30 All-Americans."
Ballew spoke about going into the hall of fame with the two former Wolf Pack swimmers, about his time at the University and his many racquetball matches with head football coach Chris Ault. With a few friends and always on opposite teams, Ballew recounted defeating his fellow Hall of Fame coach.
Ballew and Whalen remembered an Ault with a fiery disposition even on the supposedly friendly racquetball court.
"Chris was really angry when he came off the court with a loss, and Jerry made sure he was angry a lot," Whalen joked.
Billew couldn't hold back a few tears as he ended the night's festivities with stories like the one about the camaraderie with Ault and the women he coached.
"This was a marvelous chance to work and coach these girls here," Ballew said. "I just have to say thank you."