Larry Schreck’s love for the Cougars began early in life.
As a child growing up in Spokane during the early ’50s, he took his transistor radio to bed and fell asleep listening to the games of the Jack Friel-led Cougar basketball team.
On the playground, he imitated quarterback Bobby Newman, even wearing his number, in his efforts to emulate the Cougar All-American.
Years later, when Schreck arrived at WSU as a student, the only similarity Cougar football coach Jim Sutherland could see between Schreck and Newman was the number they once wore.
Still, Schreck’s dreams of wearing the Cougar uniform became fulfilled.
“With the blessing of Coach Sutherland, I walked on to the baseball team in the spring of 1963,” Schreck recalls. “Coach Brayton gave me a chance and I have been a dedicated Cougar ever since.”
“It is hard not to be a Cougar if you spend much time around Bobo Brayton,” Schreck explains, “He had an incredible will to win, and a genuine dedication to WSU baseball and his mentor Buck Bailey.”
From 1963-65, Schreck wore the uniform for Cougar Baseball. He led the Pac-8 Northern Division in hitting as a sophomore in 1963 and the 1965 team is regarded as one of the greatest in Cougar Athletics history, finishing fourth in the nation according to Collegiate Baseball.
“There were a lot of great players on the team and a lot of great guys who I still keep in contact with,” Schreck says of the 1965 squad.
Schreck described himself as a utility player on a 1965 team that featured John Olerud Sr. (captain), Robert Fry, Dale Ford, Paul Taylor, Harold Brunstad, and Daniel Frisella.
“I was Ichiro, but I couldn’t run or throw,” Schreck jokes of his playing style, referring to the Seattle Mariners’ great. “As a sophomore I had one of those years where everything fell in.”
As deep as Schreck’s ties to WSU are with his connection to baseball, his love for the institution goes much deeper.
When Schreck talks about his memories of WSU, the first thing he will tell you are not recollections from baseball, although he has many, but of his professors.
“Dr. Bernard Bobb’s lectures were so stimulating,” Schreck recalls of his history professor. “I would close my notebook and take in every word as he paced back and forth energetically describing the conflict between Montezuma and Cortes.
“After class,” Schreck continues, “Professor Bobb was more than willing to take some us to his favorite pheasant hunting spots.”
Schreck was also inspired by English professor Ruth Slonim.
“She was friends with Robert Frost,” Schreck says. “She drove around campus in a 1940 Ford Coupe and mesmerized the class with the relevance and finer points of Winnie The Pooh.”
Then there was Dr. Bruce Anawalt, who taught Shakespeare to both Schreck and his future wife.
“To get a young guy who was mostly interested in sports to look forward to a Shakespeare class is no small feat,” says Schreck with a laugh.
It was that 10-year period from 1962-72, when he and his wife Sherry spent in Pullman, that Schreck says was very influential in his life.
He earned a bachelor’s and master’s degree at WSU in addition to meeting Sherry at WSU.
During that time, Schreck taught and coached at Pullman High School, and he and Sherry were house parents for a group home for boys who were trying to get a fresh start in life.
“Many, many positive things happened to me,” Schreck explains. “That’s why I fell in love with Washington State.”
The Schrecks moved from Pullman to Wenatchee in 1972 and taught at Wenatchee High School for 33 years. He now teaches a history class at Wenatchee Valley Community College.
And although he is years removed from his playing career, Schreck remains active with Cougar Athletics, serving with the Wenatchee Cougar Club and as a volunteer fundraiser.
Ask Schreck what inspires him to volunteer for the Cougar Athletic Fund and he mentions three names: Heathcote, Harshman, and Brayton.
That is, legendary coaches Jud Heathcote, Marv Harshman and Bobo Brayton.
He remembers walking into a tiny Bohler Gym office in the spring of 1964 to see Coach Brayton. Brayton was there, sharing a cubicle with coaches Harshman and Heathcote.
“They were assisting one another, being best of friends, and probably not earning a total of $50,000 between them,” Schreck explains. “These three coaches earned their accolades, and accomplishments the old fashioned way. They learned how to get a whole lot done, with a whole lot less than those they had to compete with by using sheer determination, vision, and hard work.
“I look to them as examples of what it means to be a Cougar: hard work, self-discipline, extremely competitive and a love for Crimson and Gray. Those guys motivate me.”
Schreck’s motivation is also driven by the WSU Director of Athletics.
“The leadership of Bill Moos inspired me to volunteer for the Cougar Athletic Fund,” Schreck says. “There are people who love Washington State, and I have lot of friends who root for them, live and die with them, but they never send anything.
“So I contacted them and said, ‘Hey, how about kicking in $100 and let’s help Bill Moos, Mike Leach, Donnie Marbut, Ken Bone, and all of Cougar Athletics.’” Schreck adds. “I’m a firm believer that if people send something, whether it’s a large or small amount, they will feel a part of it.”
Undoubtedly to feel a part of it just as Schreck did many years ago on the playground, or listening to Cougar Basketball on the radio as a child, or in the classroom and the baseball diamond as a student-athlete.
“All of us who have attended WSU have had experiences similar to mine,” Schreck says. “It is a unique college campus that creates lasting friends and memories.
“For me, there are a lot of special memories that make me want to encourage people to support Washington State and encourage other people to go there because I had such a wonderful experience.”