LCSC to start Warrior Athletic Hall of Fame
The Lewis-Clark State College athletic department, in conjunction with the Warrior Athletic Association, has created the LCSC Warrior Athletic Hall of Fame and will hold its first induction ceremony on May 7 by honoring former Warrior baseball coach Ed Cheff as the first inductee.
The purpose of the LCSC athletic Hall of Fame is to honor former Warrior coaches, athletes, and supporters, who by virtue of their outstanding accomplishments, service or performance, they are of such significant stature that they are considered to be among the most highly regarded to be associated with Warrior athletic programs. Every individual honored has made a major contribution to the tradition of LCSC athletics, to the college, and to the community.
The Warrior Hall of Fame has been more than two years in the making and there still are some details to be worked out, LCSC athletic director Gary Picone said. However, he added, the timing is right to get the project rolling.
The WAA has played a huge role in the formation of the Hall of Fame. It formed two committees to help get the ball rolling with one committee focusing on the nominations, criteria, and review of candidates, while the other committee is in charge of the actual dinner ceremony.
Those involved decided that there will be induction ceremonies every other year and chose to have only Cheff, easily the most recognizable figure in LCSC's athletic history, as the lone inductee in the inaugural event.
Cheff will be inducted at a dinner at 7 p.m. at the Lewiston Red Lion Hotel. Tickets will go on sale around March 1 and the event will be limited to 300 people. Where tickets can be purchased and the price will be announced later.
Picone said the Hall of Fame will likely be located some place in the Activity Center, but the exact location has not been decided.
Cheff announced his retirement last summer after coaching the Warriors for 34 seasons. He led the Warriors to an unprecedented 16 NAIA World Series titles and is the NAIA's all-time leader in victories at one school. He posted a 1,705-430-2 record with LCSC for a .799 winning percentage. His win total ranks second only to Wichita State's Gene Stephenson's 1,724 wins with the same program in all of college baseball. His win total also is fourth all-time among all college baseball coaches.
Cheff's accomplishments are nothing short of amazing. Under his leadership, the Warriors captured 16 NAIA national titles during a 25-year span, won at least 40 games for 30 straight seasons, and produced 114 players who were selected in the Major League Baseball Draft, including 14 who have made it to the big leagues thus far.
During Cheff's tenure, LCSC played in 11 consecutive NAIA World Series championship games and won eight. To put this in perspective, no other program has won more than four NAIA Series titles in its 54-year history. LCSC has been to the Series a record 29 times, more than double than any other NAIA program, including 28 under Cheff. Of those 28 appearances, LCSC finished fourth or higher 25 times.
Cheff also has been inducted into the NAIA Hall of Fame, the American Baseball Coaches Association Hall of Fame, and been selected the winner of the ABCA’s Lefty Gomez Award for his lifetime contributions to amateur baseball. He was named the NAIA Coach of the Year eight times.
Cheff's teams also produced 72 NAIA All-Americans and three NAIA Players of the Year.
Cheff, who was raised in Butte, came to LCSC after a successful coaching career at Lower Columbia Community College in Longview, Wash. He replaced Ramon Hooker at LCSC following the 1976 season when the Warriors made their first appearance in the NAIA World Series and finished second to Lewis College in Illinois.
One of the trademarks of Cheff's teams was their mental toughness. LCSC lost more than 20 games only once in a season and during the past seven years, his teams averaged 50 wins and only 8.6 losses.
Cheff's teams also were regularly involved in the community and with community projects. Players regularly served as mentors at area elementary schools, helped with cleanup at the Lewiston Roundup, and also did work at an animal refuge, among being involved with other local events, fundraisers, and volunteer programs.
During his time at LCSC, Cheff also was on the coaching staff for Team USA in 1991 and again in 1994 when he served as hitting and third-base coach at the World Championships. He also spent seven summers coaching baseball in the Alaska Collegiate League, which features college baseball players from across the United States.
Only three active coaches have compiled more wins than Cheff. University of St. Francis coach Gordie Gillespie is 1,852-938 in 58 years, followed by University of Texas' Augie Garrido at 1,768-59-2 in 43 seasons. Stephenson is at 1,724-596-2 after 34 seasons.