Stories of overcoming long odds and adversity predominated at the Washburn Athletic Hall of Fame ceremony on Saturday morning.
Six new members were signed up, several of whom came to Washburn as undersized, lightly recruited athletes who haven’t received much in their careers.
“When (Washburn Sports Information Director) Gene Cassell called me up and said ‘We’d love to induct you into the Washburn Hall of Fame’, I was like, ‘Did you dial the wrong one? number, “Matt Cahill joked.
Cahill was one of many who shared stories of the tough road to success at Washburn.
A longtime U.S. Marshal after his days as a football player in Washburn, Cahill said being part of a team was the best part of his college experience.
“I thought about leaving Washburn after what I was going through, trying to get (playing time). But I had teammates and I was not going to leave them, ”remembers Cahill. “I had their backs and I knew they had mine.
“Being a teammate and celebrating wins with teammates is perhaps the greatest feeling you will ever have.”
After no new members in 2020 due to the pandemic, the six new inductees bring the total in the hall to 155. The new members shared tears and laughs with those who gathered to celebrate Saturday.
“It’s pretty cool to be a part of Washburn athletics forever. I still don’t think I really understood that, ”said Kate Hampson, 2006-09 volleyball player.“ I can’t thank everyone enough for all they have done for me.
Former Hampson coach Chris Herron summed up the importance of being in the Hall of Fame.
“I had the opportunity to watch these inductees play, grow and become adults,” Herron said. “The work ethic these athletes have shown me is inspiring.”
“To be honest, choosing to come to Washburn was the best choice I have ever made in my life,” said former football player and current coach Zach Watkins. “It put me where I am today. It shaped me. It has given me lifelong friends, a profession I really love, and people I really care about.
The 2021 Washburn Athletic Hall of Fame class includes the following:
• Matt Cahill, football, 1979-1982: Cahill ended his career as Washburn’s all-time best tackle. In 1982, his 120 total tackles were the highest single-season tally in school history. An undersized linebacker, Cahill worked for more than two years to smash the Ichabods’ starting lineup, but still set tackle records.
• Kate Hampson, volleyball, 2006-2009: A highly decorated passer, Hampson was one of the few Washburn players to receive All-American honors in several seasons. Hampson ended his career as Washburn’s all-time leader in assists with 5,897. That number also ranks second in MIAA history.
• Joe Hastings, football, 2005-10: Assistant coach of the Indianapolis Colts, Hastings virtually attended the ceremony. A lightly recruited walk-on from Wichita, Hastings overcame a myriad of injuries to see the field at Washburn. As a senior in 2010, he exploded for 87 receptions and 1,546 yards, which finished second on the NCAA and MIAA charts in a single season.
• Sam Sissom, football, 2002-06; baseball, 2003-06: Sissom came to Washburn because of the opportunity to play football and baseball. His name is everywhere in both record books. On the football field, Sissom is the Ichabods all-time leader in receptions (191), yards (3,288) and touchdowns (40). On the baseball field, he ended his career as the all-time leader in hits (229), bats (662) and was second on walks (123), steals (90) . He has been selected four times by the MIAA.
• Logan Stutz, basketball, 2008-11: Like Hastings, Stutz joined the ceremony from a distance. Stutz earned an Honorable Mention All-American honors his senior season after leading the MIAA with an average of 20.0 points. He won all MIAA first team honors and all NABC district first team honors that year. He pursued a long career as a professional player and coach of international basketball.
• Zach Watkins, football, 2006-09: A four-year rookie in linebacker, Watkins has built a historic career, registering 100 or more tackles each season, compiling a career high school record of 473. This mark also placed him third in NCAA Division II history at the end of his career. Watkins has won numerous league, regional and national honors during his playing career. He is now in his seventh season on the Washburn coaching staff.
Contact Seth Kinker at [email protected] Follow him on Twitter @SethKinker.