These famous sports figures are donating their time to help our kids!
Before being the number one overall pick in the 1993 NFL Draft by the New England Patriots, Drew Bledsoe quarterbacked the WSU Cougars for three seasons from 1990-1992. The Walla Walla, Wash. native was a two-time All-Pacific-10 Conference performer, earning Pac-10 Offensive MVP honors and First Team All-American honors as a junior. During his final season at WSU, Bledsoe finished eighth in the Heisman Trophy voting and was a semifinalist for the Football News Offensive Player of the Year and the Davey O’Brien Award (nation’s top quarterback). Bledsoe led the Cougars to a win over Utah in 1992 Copper Bowl, earning MVP honors while passing for then-WSU bowl game records of 476 years and two touchdowns. He is among the top-5 in WSU’s all-time list in passing yards, touchdowns and completions. Following his Cougar career, Bledsoe went on to play 14 seasons in the NFL, mainly for the Patriots but also for the Buffalo Bills and Dallas Cowboys. The four-time pro bowler retired fifth in NFL History in pass attempts (6,717) and completions (3,839), seventh in passing yards (44,611), and thirteenth in touchdown passes (251). He was inducted into the WSU Athletic Hall of Fame in 2002 and the New England Patriots Hall of Fame in 2011.
James Donaldson was a starring center at Luther Burbank High School, CA who later made his mark on the basketball court at Washington State University (1975-1979). In his four seasons at WSU, he averaged 8.5 points per game and 8.1 rebounds per game in 84 games. As of 2015, he was the all-time leader in career blocked shots (176), blocks average (2.1), single-season blocks (82 in 1977–78), single-season blocks average (3.0 in 1977–78) and single-game blocked shots. He was inducted into the Pac-10 Sports Hall of Fame and WSU's athletic hall of fame in 2006. Donaldson was drafted by the Seattle SuperSonics in the 1979 NBA draft and also played for San Diego/L.A. Clippers, Dallas Mavericks, New York Knicks, and Utah Jazz. He was an NBA All-Star in 1988 while playing center for the Dallas Mavericks. He played for several teams in the European Leagues in Spain, Italy, and Greece, and he toured with The Harlem Globetrotters to wrap up his career. Upon retiring from basketball in 2000, Donaldson settled in the Seattle area, where he runs the Donaldson Clinic, a physical therapy center in Mill Creek, WA. James established The Donaldson Clinic in January 1990 (shortly after a career threatening knee injury) with an idea that he would eventually become a physical therapist. He is also a motivational speaker, book author, and ran for the non-partisan office of Seattle mayor. In 2010, Donaldson was the recipient of the NBA Legends of Basketball ABC Award, awarded for outstanding contributions in Athletics–Business–Community. Currently, he serves as a director for the China Service Center for Friendship and Cooperation with Foreign Countries Studying Abroad Department to provide students study abroad and cultural exchange programs.
Quarterback Jason Gesser guided WSU Football through one of the most successful periods in Cougar history from 1998-2002. The Honolulu native earned First Team All-America honors and was the Pacific-10 Conference Co-Offensive MVP as a senior, finishing his Cougar career as a three-time All-Pacific-10 Conference selection and a four-time Academic All-Pac-10 honoree. Gesser left WSU owning school records in a number of offensive categories, including career starts (34), total yards (9,007), pass attempts (1,118), completions (611), touchdown passes (70), 200-yard passing games (27), wins by a starting quarterback (24), consecutive games with a touchdown pass (25) and is the only player in program-history to be elected team captain three times. During his career, he appeared in 40 games, made 35 starts, led the Pac-10 in passing yards as a junior, was the first Cougar to throw for 3,000 yards twice and also led WSU to the 2003 Rose Bowl as a senior. Following his playing career, Gesser coached in high school and at the University of Idaho and Wyoming. He returned to Pullman in 2014, joining the Cougar football broadcast team as an analyst while also working for the Cougar Athletic Fund. Gesser, along with his coach Mike Price, was inducted into the WSU Athletic Hall of Fame in 2016.
Connor Halliday is best known his NCAA single-game passing record. As quarterback (2010-2014) for Washington State University, the Spokane, WA native threw for 734 yards against the California Golden Bears in 2014. In his debut as a redshirt freshman, Halliday passed for 494 yards in a 37-27 defeat of Arizona State. He also earned marks for most completions in a single game, 58, and most attempts, 89. Halliday was celebrated as the New Mexico Bowl MVP in 2013 and is a two-time Pac-12 Honorable Mention.
All-American running back Rueben Mayes donned a Cougar uniform from 1982-1985 for head coach Jim Walden. The North Battleford, Saskatchewan native earned All-America honors as a junior and was named Pacific-10 Conference Offensive MVP in his junior and senior seasons after leading the conference in rushing both years. As a junior, Mayes finished tenth in the Heisman Trophy voting after rushing for a then-WSU single-season school-record 1,637 yards and tying the top mark of eleven rushing touchdowns in a single season. Also during that year, Mayes set at WSU, Pac-10 and NCAA record with 357 rushing yards against Oregon. He is one of only two Cougars to rush for 1,000 yards in two different seasons and went on to finish his career atop the WSU career top-10 charts in rushing yards (3,519), rushing attempts (636) and is third in career rushing touchdowns (23) and overall touchdowns (26). Mayes later became a third-round draft pick of the New Orleans Saints and went on to play seven years in the NFL, garnering Rookie of the Year honors in 1986 and earning trips to the Pro Bowl in 1986 and 1987. Mayes was also the recipient of the Harry Jerome Award, given each year to black leaders in Canada as recognition for their contributions in athletics, community service, academics and creative arts. He was inducted into the New Orleans Saints Hall of Fame in 2004, the College Hall of Fame in 2008, and the WSU Athletics Hall of Fame in 2009. He currently serves as the Chief Development Officer for Pullman Regional Hospital.
Jack Thompson, "The Throwin' Samoan," of Tutuila, American Samoa, started his career at Washington State University as starting quarterback for the Cougars from 1976-1978. Thompson set Pac-10 records for pass attempts (1,086), pass completions (601) and total plays (1,345). During his senior year, he was named a First-Team All-American by The Sporting News and finished ninth in the voting for the Heisman Trophy. He concluded his college career in 1978 as the most prolific passer in NCAA history, throwing for 7,818 yards. He was all-conference three times and either first-team, second-team, or honorable mention All-American three times. He is one of only two players in WSU history to have his number retired. Thompson was a first-round draft choice, and third overall pick of the NFL Draft, of the Cincinnati Bengals in 1979 and played until 1982 before playing for two years as starting quarterback for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. After his football career, Thompson settled in Seattle and is still active in recruiting and coaching talent in Samoa. He is a member of the inaugural class of the Polynesian Football Hall of Fame.
Thank you to our champions for supporting the Regional High School Athletic Training Program!