It was 2007 when Clark welcomed Biniam Afenegus as head coach of the men’s soccer team. The roster consisted mainly of freshman players, yet the team’s talent was apparent from the beginning. They were top-ranked in their division that season, and advanced to the playoff finals against Spokane.
Before the team took the field for the NWAACC, now known as NWAC, championship game, offensive MVP Shawn McCready said the team was told that their opponent was ranked No. 1. But that didn’t define the outcome.
In a grueling overtime battle for the title, the score was still 0-0 after 99 minutes of play.
“The team was very resilient,” Afenegus said.
Just moments away from a shootout, McCready recalled the game’s turning point.
“There was one minute left and the ball bounced up,” McCready said. “When I took the first touch, I knew I was scoring. As a team, we had a ‘never say die’ attitude, and we never gave up.”
Afenegus is now building the new men’s soccer program at Southern Oregon University. But after eight seasons at Clark, he said he still remembers the players as being the team that “personified what it means to work hard.”
Afenegus, along with the entire 2007 team, will be honored with this year’s class of Clark Athletic Hall of Fame inductees on Feb. 20. Bryony Melcher of the 2001 women’s basketball team, Steve Hook of the 1971 men’s basketball team and Gary Boggs of the 1961 wrestling and track team will also be inducted.
Melcher was awarded “NWAACC Player of the Year” and Clark’s “Female Athlete of the Year” in 2001 for her success in her second year on the women’s basketball team. Melcher praised her teammates and attributed them to her success as a player.
“Without my team, I couldn’t have done it,” Melcher said. “Out of all the years I played basketball, we had the best team chemistry.”
Melcher said she played with very talented teammates over the years, and the induction took her by surprise.
“In high school, I played with someone who went on to play for the WNBA and another teammate who played in the Olympics for the U.S. Women’s Soccer Team,” Melcher said. “It’s a really big honor to be inducted. I never thought something like this would happen to me.”
Nearly five decades ago, the men’s basketball team had back-to-back groundbreaking seasons. In 1970, they ranked second in their division, and the next year they took first place. Hook, their post, was one player who helped contribute to the team’s success.
Hook averaged 24 points and 10 rebounds per game during his sophomore year, but humbly credited his teammates for his success.
“This induction brought back great memories,” Hook said. “Both years our team got along well, and everyone knew their part.”
The track team of 1960 claimed the championship in the Washington State Junior College Athletic Conference, now known as the NWAC. They repeated the accomplishment in 1961, when multi-sport athlete Boggs won “Outstanding Athlete,” just two years after he was named “Athlete of the Year” at Hudson’s Bay High School.
After his time at Clark, Boggs transferred to Lewis and Clark College, where he played football, wrestled and ran track. Just three years after graduation, Boggs began coaching for Fort Vancouver High School, where he remained head coach for the next 34 years.
Boggs died at the age of 69 in April 2011. Hook, who knew Boggs during his coaching days at Fort Vancouver High School, said he remembered him as someone who was comfortable to be around and always made people feel welcome.
“It is an honor to be inducted the same time as Gary,” Hook said. “He was gone too soon.”