LONG BEACH - Rod Anderson, longtime teacher and Long Beach resident and all around good guy is a man for all seasons - like baseball, basketball, football, volleyball, wrestling, and track seasons.
Anderson, who began teaching at the Ocean Beach District in 1962, announces home Ilwaco High School girls and boys basketball games, volleyball matches, and track meets. He also is statistician for baseball and football and the venerable sports fan has done color commentary for KAST radio sports.
All this comes from a man who is allegedly retired after 33 years of teaching. Anderson, who spent his entire 33-year career in the Ocean Beach school system, has seen the majority of IHS sporting activities during the past 42 years, home and away, and has witnessed many district and state-wide events as well.
Anderson developed his love of athletics early, growing up as an only child near Burlington. He read the sports section of the Seattle Times, which came in the afternoon as he recalls, from cover to cover. He also listened to the Seattle Rainier's games on the radio and played "barnyard baseball."
Any red-blooded male growing up in the 1950s or 1960s knows that "barnyard baseball" consists solely of the love of the sport coupled with a fertile imagination and a ball of some type and does not require a playing field, an organized league or coaches, or even other players. "
"I had a few cousins on the Samish Flats who would come over once in awhile and we would play whatever sport was in season," Anderson said.
Anderson played half back and end for Burlington-Edison High School and also lettered three years as a left-handed outfielder, explaining, "I'm ambidextrous and somehow I became a lefty baseball player." After graduation in 1957, Anderson went to Pacific Lutheran University for a year and later graduated in 1962 from Western Washington College of Education, now WWU.
He got the call from Carl Aase on August 19, 1962, as Anderson succinctly remembers, receiving an offer to teach fifth grade in Ilwaco.
"I'd never heard of the place," Anderson said with a smile. "But my other option was to teach in Anchorage, and Alaska had just had a major earthquake, so I decided to come here."
Anderson never left the Peninsula, working the first 23 years as a fourth- or fifth-grade teacher and the last 10 as a Chapter I instructor.
"Whatever sport was in season, that was my favorite pastime," he said. "My first year, here Don Lee coached the football team to an undefeated season. That was long before state playoffs or girls sports. It was the only game in town and 1962 was the last year Ilwaco was a class 'B' school. Jim Long, Gary Weber, and Ed Heckard were among the players I remember on the team."
Anderson remembers a great deal over the years, often taking notes of the contests he watches when he's not announcing or taking official team stats.
"The most amazing thing I ever saw in sports was in the 1966 2A State Tournament when Harry Kappert of Lake Stevens sank an 80-foot hook shot that went over the scoreboard and through the wires that held it at mid-court of the old UPS Field House." Anderson said of the 1966 tournament in which Ron Harrell, now of Dennis Company and father of former Fishermen, Tim and Jeff, played for the Lincoln Abes.
Amazingly, there is something Anderson doesn't remember every detail about, but says there were a couple of buzzer-beater shots when the Fishermen slowed the game down and upset then-powerhouse Raymond basketball teams in the late 1960s. "They all sort of blend together after awhile," he said of the over four decades of Ilwaco sports Anderson he saw firsthand.
"In 1967 Ilwaco introduced the fast break to State 'A' basketball and finished fourth in the tournament," he said. "Phil Oman, Dwight Eager, Bob Robinson, Mike Wirkkala, Perry VanOver - they were all on that team."
Another boys team Anderson was partial to was the 1990 squad that claimed second in State.
"Paul Jarrett was great along with Brandon Marsh, and Brian Long (Jim's son)," Anderson said. "The foreign exchange student (Voja Andjelkovic) stayed at Guy Glenn's."
Bruce Barker is among Anderson's all-time favorite football players.
"He went on to play at Grays Harbor Community College and then Long Beach State," Anderson recalled.
Anderson announced Lady Fishermen games this year when Bruce's daughter, Ariel, started for Ilwaco.
"The 1995 girls team who were third in 'State' were outstanding with Lori Newell, Kristin McClintock, the Brown sisters, and Jenny Land," he said.
Anderson said he has a lot of old programs, mostly from basketball, but also some from the semi-final and finals of the football playoffs. In typical fashion, he has a favorite program, and said, "The 1966 2A basketball program has Tom Sneva (the race car driver) from Lewis and Clark and Bernie Friar (former Blazer player and current NBA referee)."
Anderson, of course, doesn't have to look at the program. He remembers.
Anderson then begins to click off all-time leaders in IHS track history and go through Peterson Field record holders as well. He rattles off the names of Michelle Wiitala, Kenny Riat, and Bruce Anderson, all from Naselle, then mentions the Lady Fishermen javelin record holder, Cary Burrell, who competed in Goldendale in 1972 before Ilwaco had much of a girls track team.
In his spare time away from sports, Anderson volunteers at the Long Beach Visitor's Center. He is a very active member of the Ocean Park Lutheran Church. Anderson is also a stellar member of the Macintosh User Group on the Peninsula. He said, "I began on a Mac computer when I taught and have stuck with them." Anderson sticking with something is certainly no surprise.
Anderson, while being a fan, has earned many fans of his own. From former students in the early 1960s to student athletes of today, all agree he is a wealth of knowledge, but even more importantly, he has been a supporter and friend to every IHS athlete for over four decades.
Of his future, the amiable Anderson said on a recent rainy April morning, "I am satisfied in Long Beach. There is no other place I'd rather be." His philosophy is simple and effective,
"I take life as it comes, one day at a time," he said, and with a chuckle added, "Make that one sports season at a time, too."