Four individuals and two teams are the latest inductees into the R.A. Long Hall of Fame, which will hold its 13th annual induction ceremony at 5:30 p.m. Friday at the high school auditorium.
Pat (Anderson) Rushford and Mary Cranston will be inducted in the Lifetime Achievement category, Dexter Griffen and Misty Velke in Athletic Achievement, and the 1996 softball and baseball teams in the team category.
Here’s a look at this year’s inductees:
Pat (Anderson) Rushford (Class of 1961): A North Dakota native, Anderson moved to Longview with her family when she was 12, and attended Kessler Elementary, Monticello Junior High and R.A. Long. After graduation, she moved to La Center and worked as a secretary/bookkeeper in Vancouver.
In 1963, she married Ron Rushford, and the couple had two children. She later enrolled at Clark College, where she graduated with Honors with a degree in nursing.
Anderson embarked on a budding writing career, and started her first book in 1979. In 1983, her book “Have You Hugged Your Teenager Today” was published. She has since written 50 books, and in 1983 was named Writer of the Year by Mount Hermon Writer’s Conference in California.
From 1988 to 1993 she worked as Contributing Editor for “Christian Parenting Today” and sold articles to various parenting books. Anderson has won awards including the “Helen Kelts Writer of the Year from the Christian Writers Assn. in 1991.
Mary Cranston (Class of 1982): Cranston served as team captain and helped the Lumberjills to the state title in girls’ basketball in 1981, and was involved in ASB Leadership, was first chair in orchestra, and was part of the Girls Drill Team.
After graduation, she played basketball and studied Sports Psychology at Western Washington University. After earning her diploma, she worked with Child Protective Services and in other fields before establishing a private practice.
Cranston also served 22 seasons as a women’s basketball coach at Grays Harbor College, and a girls’ basketball coach at Arlington and Black Hills high schools in Washington, and Aloha and South Umpqua high schools in Oregon. In 2008, she stopped coaching to focus on her children’s sports careers.
Cranston is also an author, and some of her work includes writing and implemented a Drug and Alcohol prevention program for the South Umpqua School District that led to be awarded the “Health Professional of the Year” for the state of Oregon. She later wrote curriculum and a program for Yelm school district called the ‘ABC’s of Student Success’ that was published and launched throughout the state of Washington.
Dexter Griffen (Class of 1984): A three-sport letterman for the Lumberjacks, Griffen excelled in basketball, track and football.
In basketball, he was named team MVP and all-league during the 1983-84 seasons. In track, he was named team MVP in 1984, and placed fourth in the Class 2A triple jump. His leap of 45 feet 4 inches is a school record which has stood for 36 years.
Griffen went on to Eastern Washington University, where he was named team MVP in basketball.
Since graduation, he has served as a teacher and coach in the Seattle area for more than 20 years. During the 1998-99 season, he was state runner-up for Coach of the Year, and in 2002 was selected the WESCO League Coach of the Year. He has coached four teams to the WESCO League championships, and five teams into the state tournament. In 1999, his team placed third at state.
Misty Velke (Class of 1998): Her success on the softball diamond was enhanced by her parents, Dan and Linda Velke of Castle Rock.
Growing up in Castle Rock, Velke’s youth softball teams were successful. Velke was named tournament MVP as her 10 and under team won the state fastpitch tournament. Her 12 and under team won the state tournament and qualified for regionals.
At RAL, she was a four-time letter winner in softball, and helped the Lumberjills to state titles in 1997 and ’98. As a sophomore, Velke received the Washington State Sportsmanship Excellence Award, and placed on the High School All-America team. She was selected league co-MVP as a junior, and Player of the Year as a senior, and was named to the academic all-league team four times.
While at RAL, Velke pitched more than 1,100 strikeouts, 14 no-hitters and an earned run average below one.
In the classroom, Velke earned an Excellence in English award, a Presidential Education Award, and the Washington State Principal Scholars Award. She graduated in the top five percent of her class with a 3.8 GPA.
Velke enrolled at the University of San Diego, where she was a Dean’s Scholar Award winner and placed on the Western Independent Softball League All-Academic Team. On the field, she was named WISL MVP as a freshman after setting school records in single-season strikeouts (255), and wins (25).
After one season, Velke returned to Longview and enrolled at Lower Columbia College, where she placed on the President’s Honor Roll and joined the softball team.
During the 2000 season, Velke helped the Red Devils to repeat as NWAACC Softball Champions. She struck out a school-record 370 batters, a mark which stood as the conference record for many years. Velke was named tournament MVP, and was named to the All-American team.
Furthering her education at Washington State University, Velke graduated Summa Cum Laude with a degree in education. She was named a Teacher of the Year in 2015.
1996 Softball Team: The squad claimed the first softball championship in school history with a 1-0 victory over W.F. West in eight innings at Larson Park in Yakima.
In the eighth inning, Emily Minium got aboard and moved around to third, where she scored on a base hit from Katy Madden. RAL (20-7) was held to two hits, with Courtney Giles collecting the other hit. Misty Velke struck out eight batters in claiming the victory.
At state, the Jills scored 11 runs and gave up one.
Velke was named the Greater St. Helens League Player of the Year. Giles and Angie Ramos placed on the league’s first team, Madden and Minium were named to the second team, and Stuart was an honorable mention choice.
Team members were Angela Abel, Melody Abel, Sandra Bean, Courtney Giles, Kristy Giles, Heather Leibe, Katy Madden, Emily Minium, Amanda Mackey, Angie Ramos, Sarah Stuart, Katie Green, Misty Velke, Amy Williams, Sarah Yohe. Dave Polk was the head coach, and assistants were Jose Ramos, Jackie Slechta and Dan Velke.
1996 Baseball Team: The squad got off to a slow start, going 1-4 in its first five games before catching fire during the regular season to finish 18-7 overall, and 11-3 in the Greater St. Helens League.
In the state semifinals, the Lumberjacks fell to Blanchet 5-4 despite three hits apiece from Devin Mackin and Scott Nicholson. In the third-fourth place matchup, RAL fell to Capital 19-11.
Team members were Joe Bayless, Michael Bettineski, Matt Brown, Matt Fisher, Jesse Green, Jeremy Huckleberry, Jesse Huezo, Shane Keith, Kelly LeBeau, Mike Lewis, Devin Mackin, Sean Marshall, Jesse Mathews, Kevin McDonald, Scott Nicholson, Jason Schlenker. Rich Reeves was the head coach, and assistants were Charley Worley and Wayne Lindemann.