ARLINGTON — Even though he passed away in 1979, Bill Quake’s legacy lives on in the city and the sport that he loved, both of which honored him April 19.
Quake Field was rededicated by Arlington Mayor Margaret Larson, as the members of the Stilly Valley Little League gathered for a cookout and team photos.
Larson considers herself fortunate to have been a friend of Quake and his family, and described him as “one of the greatest and most influential people” in Arlington, especially with regard to local youth sports. Quake coached the Stilly Valley Little League from its start, wrote weekly sports articles for The Arlington Times, spent 35 years umpiring baseball and refereeing football throughout Snohomish County and Washington state, and received awards for his work with children.
“He loved kids,” said Larson of Quake, who passed away while attending the Arlington Eagles State Championship Football Game at the Kingbowl. “The team won and dedicated the game to him. It’s said that it takes a village to raise a child, and this is especially true in the Stilly Valley. I thank everyone here who spends their time and talents with kids.”
Roy Strotz and Murel Coulter received special recognition for their contributions to the Stilly Valley Little League. Strotz has coached throughout the community, led the Stilly Valley Little League to the state championship in 1993, and is still serving as an umpire. Coulter has served as an umpire for 47 years, 37 of them for the Stilly Valley Little League, adding up to more than 13,000 games, three of which were Little League World Series.
“It started when I was living in South Dakota,” said Coulter, who has umpired minor league, big league, high school and junior college games. “I was playing baseball back then, but the other teams didn’t have lighted fields, so I umpired their games.”
Even though he’s in his 70s, Coulter has no intention to retire from his role.
“At my age, people ask me why I’m still doing this,” Coulter said. “I tell them that when it’s not fun anymore, I’ll quit. I go all over, doing this for other leagues and districts, too. The best part is just being with the kids.”
Stilly Valley Little League President Bob Bergley shares Coulter’s commitment to the children, especially since he played in the local little league himself.
“I was born and raised in Arlington, and I’ve been in little league almost my whole life,” laughed Bergley, who followed his seven-year stint as a coach for the Stilly Valley Little League with his current year to date as president of the league. “I love the sport, but I also love teaching the kids, because it’s not just about baseball. It’s life lessons, as well. Mayor Margaret’s husband John and son Mike were both my coaches growing up.”
Bergley cited the satisfaction of watching the children’s improvement, from the start to the finish of any given season, while Stilly Valley Little League Umpire-in-Chief Morgan Mosley sees his role as a means of paying back the benefits he received from playing in little league.
“This is only my second year in Arlington, but I played as a kid, so for me, it’s returning the favor,” Mosley said. “Working with kids is a way of serving the community in which you live.”
Katelynn Kazen and Kaylyn Myers are among the kids who have reaped the benefits of the little league. They’re playing on different Stilly Valley Little League teams this year, but they were on the same team last year, when they won the district championship and third place in the state in the 10-11-year All-Star Battleground Tournament.
“It was my first year, so just knowing I could do it was amazing,” said Kazen, who joined at the prompting of friends. “I’ve loved cheering people on and encouraging them. It’s fun to learn things too.”
Myers has been playing for six years, but she shares Kazen’s enthusiasm for motivating people.
“I like getting my team pumped up,” Myers said. “I like the intensity of the game. It’s great to pitch and strike people out.”
Myers and her fellow players laughed in agreement when it was suggested that she has a competitive streak.
“It just a great time,” Myers said. “You get to travel, meet new people, and make friends that you’ll have the rest of your life,” she said, drawing “awws” and hugs from her fellow players.