Former Western Washington University basketball guard and coach Lori deKubber thought Sports Information Director Paul Madison was joking when he "casually mentioned" in a phone conversation that she had been selected for induction into the school's Athletic Hall of Fame.
Brandi Stevenson, a former track and field standout and coach at WWU, admitted she "got some tears in her eyes" when she got the same news.
Former men's basketball center Rudy Thomas, on the other hand, still doesn't "know how to express his feelings."
Those three, along with Vikings soccer star Scot Swanson have less than a month to come to grips with the gravity of the honor before the Class of 2013 officially enters the Hall during a May 18 induction ceremony. Their induction will bring the total number of former student athletes, coaches, administrators and fans in the Hall to 125.
"I'm excited," Swanson said in a phone interview. "I put a lot of time into soccer. I had success, but I think this is great for my teammates, as well. To me, it's recognition for me, but it's also for my teammates. We had a good group, especially in '96 and '97, and I couldn't have done it without them. ... I get recognition for scoring a lot of goals, but there were guys on the other end of those passes to set me up, and there were guys keeping teams from scoring on the other end. This is for all of us."
Swanson ranked second among WWU men's soccer career leaders with 30 goals and 72 assists when he completed his four years at Western in 1997, and he still ranks third in both categories.
He was an NAIA All-America honorable mention selection as a senior, as well as a NAIA National Scholar Athlete.
"I think it will certainly be exciting to be inducted," Swanson said. "It's nice to be recognized for all the hard work I put in."
While deKubber said she also was honored to be selected, she admits it is completely unexpected.
"Western has had some great athletic people associated with it through the years with a number of really excellent programs," she said in a phone interview. "I appreciate this opportunity very much. I'm in great company with the other three inductees."
Despite her humble demeanor, deKubber certainly earned her spot in the Hall. She was a three-time-NAIA District 1 all-star and ranked second on the women's basketball team in career points (1,408) and fourth in assists (345) when she wrapped up her career in 1985. She led the Vikings in scoring three times and played on teams that had a combined 75.2 winning percentage and won the district title in 1983.
DeKubber also served as an assistant coach to Carmen Dolfo for eight seasons.
"Everything was so great, and I had so many wonderful opportunities playing for Western and coaching at Western and working in a variety of other areas there," deKubber said. "I can't imagine going anywhere and getting a better education and having a better experience than I did at Western. It was just incredible."
Like deKubber, Stevenson not only starred for WWU athletically, but went on to coach at the school.
"I think when you're so into the sport, you're doing it for yourself and your team," she said in a phone interview. "When you coach for 14, 15 years afterwards, you do it for reasons other than yourself. When somebody chooses to recognize you as great, it almost makes you blush. It's more humbling than anything to be considered in the company of some of the people I know are already in the Hall of Fame."
Stevenson can now count herself among those greats after she was a three-time NAIA All-American and placed fourth at the 1996 NAIA outdoor national in the heptathlon, fifth in 1994 in the 400 hurdles and seventh as a member of Western's 4x100 relay in 1996. She set four WWU outdoor records, one indoor record and was named an NAIA National Scholar Athlete three times.
She went on to serve as an assistant at Western and coached 23 All-Americans.
"Coaching was both better and worse than competing," Stevenson said. "I had some of my best moments and some of my worst in my athletic career. When somebody gets hurt, it's heartbreaking. When somebody doesn't reach their goals, you question what you could have done differently. I never got choked up when I was an athlete, but I cry so easily over my athletes' successes. ... This is such an honor, and I'm going to try to talk in front of everyone for five minutes without being emotional - not sure that will happen."
Thomas said he also doesn't know exactly what to expect out of the induction ceremony.
"It's going to be awesome, that's for sure," he said in a phone interview. "I don't know how I'm going to feel until it's all over with, though. ... I never thought something like this would happen to me. It's an honor, and it's something I will cherish for the rest of my life."
Thomas averaged a double-double (15.4 points, 10.5 rebounds) during his senior year and helped the Vikings win Evergreen Conference and NAIA District 1 titles and advance to the national quarterfinals in 1972.
He went on to play for the Harlem Globetrotters and played professionally in Mexico.
"The most important thing for me during my time at Western was the group of guys I got to hang out with and play basketball with," Thomas said. "That was what really made my time there special."
Reach David Rasbach at firstname.lastname@example.org or 360-715-2286.
WWU ATHLETIC HALL OF FAME
CLASS OF 2013 INDUCTION CEREMONY
Inductees: Lori deKubber (Basketball), Brandi Stevenson (Track), Scot Swanson (Soccer) and Rudy Thomas (Basketball)
When: 5:30 p.m. May 18
Site: Bellingham Golf and Country Club
Reservations: Contact Dorothy Goldsmith at 360-650-6525
Playing career: 1981-85
A three-time NAIA District 1 all-star guard, deKubber ranked second among WWU women's basketball career leaders in points (1,408) and fourth in assists (345) when her four-year career (1981-85) ended.
DeKubber led the Vikings in scoring three times, averaging 12.2 points as a freshman, 13.8 as a sophomore and 9.9 as a junior. She played on teams that had a combined record of 88-29 (75.2 winning percentage) and won a district title in 1983.
DeKubber served as a WWU assistant coach to Carmen Dolfo for eight seasons and helped the Vikings finish 26-7 to reach the NAIA national quarterfinals in 1995-96 and again reach the national tournament in 1997-98.
Since leaving coaching, deKubber has continued working at WWU, providing injury rehabilitation services for students and being an adjunct faculty member in the Department of Physical Education, Health and Recreation, teaching health and kinesiology classes.
Recently deKubber, a graduate of Snohomish High School, moved to campus recreation and serves as a clinical athletics trainer. She developed a program called First Step, which targets individuals interested in getting more movement into their lives. First Step focuses on individualized movement goals and overcoming barriers to starting and continuing an activity program. DeKubber also makes presentations on health and wellness topics in the NuFit program.
DeKubber received her bachelor's degree in community health in 1986 and a master's degree in education with an emphasis in sports psychology in 1993.
DeKubber, 50, has a daughter, Quinn, 13.
Sport: Track and field
Playing career: 1993-96
A three-time NAIA All-American, Stevenson placed fourth at the NAIA outdoor nationals in the heptathlon in 1996, fifth in the 400-meter hurdles in 1994 and seventh as a member of the 4x100 relay in 1996. She set five WWU records - four outdoor and one indoor.
Stevenson also was a NAIA National Scholar-Athlete three times, being named to the Dean's List at WWU on nine occasions.
Stevenson served 14 years as an assistant coach for the Vikings, coaching 23 All-Americans.
Stevenson competed as a redshirt freshman at Washington State University, reaching the Pac-10 Championships in the 200 and 4x100 relay.
Stevenson received her bachelor's degree in sociology in 1994 and master's degree in education in 2010, both at WWU. She is currently employed as a maintenance technical writer at BP Cherry Point and is an adjunct faculty member at WWU in the Continuing College Education Master's Program.
Stevenson also is a doctoral candidate at the University of Glasgow, Scotland, in the Doctorate in Education Program.
A graduate of Sehome High School, Stevenson was a two-time Class 2A state champion in the 300 hurdles and an all-Northwest League pick in volleyball.
Stevenson, 41, has four children: Jack, 14, Mary, 12, Troy, 8 and Sullivan, 5.
Playing career: 1994-97
Swanson received NAIA All-America honorable mention as a forward and NAIA National Scholar-Athlete recognition as a senior in 1997 and ranked second among WWU men's soccer career leaders in goals (30) and points (72) when he completed his career (1994-97). He is currently third in both categories.
Swanson also earned NAIA Pacific Northwest Region all-star honors and was the Most Valuable Player of the Pacific Northwest Athletic Conference in 1997, leading the 12-6-1 Vikings to the Pacific Northwest sectional title and the first round of the regional playoffs with team-leading totals of nine goals and four assists.
At sectionals, WWU defeated Hawaii Pacific and Simon Fraser, both by 1-0 scores, then at regionals lost to eventual national champion Seattle University, which featured Swanson's brother Kurt. WWU was coached during that time by yet another Swanson, Scot's brother Brad.
As a junior in 1996, Swanson was a second-team all-region pick and a unanimous first-team all-league selection, scoring 16 goals and recording five assists. He also received all-league honorable mention as a sophomore.
A graduate of Sehome High School, Swanson was a three-time Northwest League all-star for the Mariners, helping them place third at state in 1993 and fourth in 1994.
Swanson earned his bachelor's degree at WWU in business administration and marketing in 1999 and went to obtain a Doctor of Jurisprudence degree at the University of Washington in 2002. He practiced law for two years in Everett and for the last eight years at the Belcher Swanson Law Firm in Bellingham.
Swanson has coached four club programs, including teams in the top league in the state of Washington, and has played on a number of semipro teams. He coached the Whatcom F.C. Rangers from 2004 to 2009.
The 37-year-old Swanson and wife, Kristen, who also is a WWU graduate, have two sons, Drew, 3, and Brady, 1.
Playing career: 1970-72
Thomas averaged a double-double as a senior with 15.4 points and 10.5 rebounds and helped the WWU men's basketball team to a 26-4 record in 1971-72. The Vikings won Evergreen Conference and NAIA District 1 titles and advanced to the quarterfinals at the NAIA National Tournament that season and were ranked No. 9 nationally in the Associated Press poll and No. 5 in the NAIA Poll.
Thomas, who received Little All-Northwest and a NAIA District 1 all-star honorable mention, averaged 21.3 points and 10.7 rebounds at nationals - both team-leading figures.
During that memorable 1971-72 season, WWU began with wins in its first 21 games and took a dramatic best two-out-of-three series with Eastern Washington in the district playoffs. In five games involving those teams that season, just seven points separated them with three contests going into overtime.
In 1970-71, Thomas helped the Vikings to a 20-6 record, averaging 13.2 points and 8.1 rebounds.
Thomas went on to play for the Harlem Globetrotters and competed professionally in Mexico. He worked at Yesler Terrace in the Seattle Parks Department for eight years and then for 25 years as program coordinator for the Crossroads Community Center in Bellevue.
Thomas earned all-region honors at Highline Community College and was all-state at Northwestern High School in Jacksonville, Fla.
The 68-year-old Thomas is married to the former Marsha Whittlesey, He has a daughter Marny Maahs, granddaughter Kelley Maahs and sons Brian Satero and Kris Franklin. He obtained his bachelor's degree in recreation from University of Washington in 1974.
Reach DAVID RASBACH at email@example.com or call 715-2271.