When Marilyn Thibodeau Sliva first arrived at Western Washington University in 1979, she didn't go out for any sports and didn't plan to join any teams.
On Saturday in Bellingham, Wash., the 1977 graduate of Juneau-Douglas High School will be inducted into WWU's Athletics Hall of Fame.
Sliva, who was Marilyn Thibodeau when she grew up in Juneau and attended WWU, is one of three athletes who will be honored by the school, bringing the hall's membership to 103 athletes. She was a distance runner who earned all-America honors in cross country and track, and was the school's female athlete of the year for 1981-82 and an NAIA National Scholar Athlete in track for 1982. Sliva, 45, will join soccer players Tom Venable and Debbie (Carter) Walford during the ceremony before WWU's homecoming football game against Humboldt State University.
"I'm still surprised, especially coming 23 years after I finished running," Sliva said of the honor, which was announced in late July. "When I was running, I was not the fastest runner. The competition back then was pretty good, and I thought I was just average."
When she was in high school, Sliva was one of Juneau's top cross-country runners, twice winning Southeast titles. She took third place at state in the mile during the 1977 track season. Then she started college at Whitworth College of Spokane, Wash., where she ran on the cross country team as a freshman.
But when she transferred to Western Washington the next year, Sliva said she lived off-campus and didn't sign up for any sports. It wasn't until the next term, when she took a gym class, that coach Tony Bartlett, a former Alaska resident, recognized her name and told her she should go out for cross country and track.
Sliva now says getting involved in athletics again played a big part of her academic success and eased her transition to college.
"I liked being around other athletes, and when you get on a team you're part of a group," Sliva said. "You see each other more at practice than you do at class. Western's a good school, and I enjoyed my time there. But college can be a lonely time."
Once she started running for Western Washington, Sliva made a big impact on her teams. She was a two-time AIAW Region IX all-star in cross country, helping the Vikings win two regional titles and three trips to the national meet. (AIAW was the now-defunct organization that oversaw women's college sports in the 1970s and early 1980s.) She earned an AIAW all-American award in cross country in 1981 after she finished 20th in the national championships.
In track, she was a two-time all-American in 1982 after she took second place in the 1,500 meters and sixth in the 3,000 during that year's NAIA National Championships. Along the way, she set school records in the 1,500 (4 minutes, 39.18 seconds), the 3,000 (10:11.9) and the 5,000 (17:46.0). She also won an NAIA National Scholar Athlete award in 1982, the year she graduated from WWU's Huxley College with a bachelor's degree in environmental health.
"I still have some of the top times among Western Washington runners, so I guess it's a worthy honor," Sliva said of her 1,500 and 5,000 times that both rank fifth all-time at WWU and the 3,000 time that ranks seventh.
Sliva comes from a running family, and her older brothers Guy and Rick Thibodeau were local legends when they were younger. Guy Thibodeau is one of the Juneau-Douglas High School cross-country running coaches and a former college coach at University of Alaska Anchorage. Sliva said when Guy came home from Western State College of Gunnison, Colo., he got Rick, Marilyn and their sisters doing competitive workouts.
"Guy worked with us and got us into some races. We were just skinny kids who didn't have anything better to do," Sliva said. "There wasn't a lot of organized sports then. We were just kids in the backyard."
Since she graduated, Sliva has been on the mom track and hasn't kept up with her running. She married Shane Sliva, another former WWU runner, after college and they have two sons, Todd, 17, and Tyler, 14. Shane Sliva is the cross-country running and track coach at Emerald Ridge High School in Puyallup, Wash. Her sons are both runners, with Todd a senior at Puyallup High School and Tyler an eighth-grader.
Sliva said she tried working in education, but now is a bookkeeper for Elephant Car Wash of Auburn, Wash., and Seattle. She said she has a weak Achilles' tendon, so she doesn't run as much as she used to.
"It's recreational, I don't race anymore," she said. "I ran the Klondike (road relay) its first year, and that's about it. That's why it's such a big surprise (to make the WWU Hall of Fame)."
Marquette University junior Jodi Jakubek (Ketchikan) earned a Conference USA Athlete of the Week honor for the week ending Sept. 11, when she won the Bradley Invitational on Sept. 10, her first victory in a college race. Jakubek covered the 5-kilometer course in 17 minutes, 49 seconds. On Sept. 25, Jakubek finished ninth overall at the Iona Meet of Champions, covering the 6-kilometer course in 21:55.2. Marquette's women are ranked 18th among NCAA Division I cross country teams.
Gonzaga University sophomore Gabe Hayden (Juneau-Douglas) finished 134th out of 216 runners in the Willamette invitational held Oct. 2 in Salem, Ore. Hayden posted a time of 27:01.42 for the 8-kilometer course.
Central Washington University junior Brandy Anderson (Juneau-Douglas) earned a Great Northwest Athletic Conference Athlete of the Week honor for the Sept. 27-Oct. 3 week after she finished second in the CWU Invitational on Oct. 2 and led her team to the title over Whitworth and No. 22 Seattle University. Anderson covered the 5-kilometer course in 19:47.60.
Also finishing in the top 20 of the Central Washington University Invitational race were two Seattle University runners from Juneau - junior Meghan Salveson and sophomore Phoebe Rohrbacher. Salveson finished sixth in 20:10.20, while Rohrbacher was 19th in 21:06.20. In the Saint Martin's College Invite on Sept. 25, Salveson finished eighth and Rohrbacher was 16th.
University of Alaska Anchorage sophomore Anjuli Haydu (Craig) finished 103rd at the Stegemoller Classic/NCAA Division II Pre-Nationals held Sept. 25 in Evansville, Ind. Haydu posted a time of 26:39 and was the fifth runner for the Seawolves. Earlier in the season, Haydu finished 17th in the Palmer Invitational college race and she was 12th in a dual meet with the University of Alaska Fairbanks.
Seattle Pacific University senior Breanne Rohm (Juneau-Douglas) finished 190th in the Sundogger Invitational held Sept. 18 in Seattle, posting a time of 22:18.00 for the 6-kilometer course. Juneau resident Brandy Anderson of Central Washington University finished 15th in the same race with a time of 18:28.00.
Eastern Oregon University freshman Autumn Streuli (Petersburg) finished in 150th place at the Sundogger Invitational with a time of 21:06.00.
Former Adams State College all-American runner Carl Blackhurst (Haines) is a graduate assistant coach for the Grizzlies. Blackhurst is a 2001 graduate in his third year on the coaching staff. He earned seven NCAA Division II all-American honors in cross-country running and track and field, and he competed in the 3,000-meter steeplechase event at the 2004 USA Track and Field Olympic Team Trials.
Western Washington University senior tight end Rick Carte (Juneau-Douglas) caught a 4-yard touchdown pass and had four catches for 45 yards during the Vikings' 52-49 quadruple-overtime loss to Western Oregon University on Sept. 25. This season Carte has 14 receptions for 162 yards and two touchdowns as the Vikings have posted a 4-2 record.
Eastern Oregon University sophomore Jake Miller (Juneau-Douglas) is listed as a tight end on the team's roster, but does not appear on the team's stat sheet posted on the Internet.
Central Lakes College of Minnesota freshman Mark Shilling (Juneau-Douglas) is a quarterback on the team and has seen some action, but no stats were available.
University of Oregon redshirt freshman setter Callan Janowiec (Juneau-Douglas) had seen action in 24 games for the Ducks (9-4 overall through Oct. 2), and had 64 assists and 16 digs.
University of Bridgeport sophomore middle hitter Amy Neussl (Juneau-Douglas) had a team-high eight kills, one solo block and six block assists in a 30-20, 30-20, 30-18 loss to Dowling on Sept. 30. Neussl leads the Purple Knights (10-3 overall, 5-1 in the New York Collegiate Athletic Conference) in solo blocks with 49 and block assists with 34 (through Oct. 2), plus she is third in kills (136), second in digs (155) and fifth in service aces (12).
Central Washington University freshman defensive specialist-outside hitter Julie Heard (Juneau-Douglas) saw brief action in three games, registering one dig, as the Wolves upset American Volleyball Coaches Association/ NCAA Division II No. 20 Western Washington 30-27, 30-24, 19-30, 30-28 on Saturday. It was just the second Great Northwest Athletic Conference loss for WWU in 64 matches since the league formed four years ago. Heard has seen action in six games and four matches for the Wolves (6-9 overall, 2-6 Great Northwest Athletic Conference), recording two kills, 11 digs and one block assist.
George Fox University redshirt sophomore middle blocker Brenna Asper-Smith (Juneau-Douglas) has seen action in 27 games for the Bruins (7-7 overall, 3-3 Northwest Conference) and has 17 kills, four solo blocks, 18 block assists and 12 digs.
University of Alaska Fairbanks freshman defensive specialist Danielle Ryder (Juneau-Douglas) has seen action in 27 games and 11 matches for the Nanooks (7-8 overall, 4-4 Great Northwest Athletic Conference), recording one kill, two service aces and 26 digs.
Whitman College junior outside hitter Karna Williams (Petersburg) has appeared in two games for the Missionaries (4-10 overall, 2-4 Northwest Conference), recording one kill, one dig and one assist.
Concordia University (Ore.) junior midfielder Rob Lossett (Juneau-Douglas) is playing his first season for the Cavaliers (7-4-1 overall) after transferring from NCAA Division I University of Charlotte. Team stats weren't available, but game reports listed Lossett with single goals on Oct. 2 in a 3-1 victory over Western Baptist, on Sept. 29 in a 2-1 overtime victory over Warner Pacific, on Sept. 21 in a 9-0 victory over Cascade College, on Sept. 18 in a 1-1 tie with Evergreen College, on Sept. 5 in a 2-1 loss to Simon Fraser University, on Sept. 3 in a 3-1 victory over Whitman College, and on Sept. 1 in a 2-1 victory over Pacific University.
Whitworth College freshman forward Greta Thibodeau (Juneau-Douglas) scored the game's only goal as Whitworth beat Willamette 1-0 on Sept. 26. Thibodeau has seen action in all 11 games off the bench for the Pirates (9-2 overall, 7-0 Northwest Conference), and the goal against Willamette is her only score of the season on 10 shots on goal. The Pirates are ranked No. 6 in NCAA Division III.
University of California-Santa Cruz freshman defender Laura Flynn (Juneau-Douglas) has appeared in five games with one start for the Banana Slugs (7-2-1 overall), but has not taken a shot this season. Flynn's older sister, junior Erin Flynn, was on the team the past two years but is not listed on the roster this season.
St. Mary's College of Maryland sophomore midfielder Liza Slotnick (Juneau-Douglas) has seen action in six games off the bench for the Seahawks (2-5-2 overall, 1-2-1 Capital Athletic Conference). She has yet to take a shot this season.
Gustavus Adolphus College sophomore Alex Sadighi (Juneau-Douglas) and partner Chad Olson lost 9-8, 8-6 to teammates Griffin Foley and Aaron Zenner in the doubles final of the Midwest Open tennis tournament held Oct. 1-3.
Texas A&M junior Seva Iwinski (a three-year Juneau-Douglas High School student who graduated from the Walker School in Marietta, Ga.) is preparing for her third fall season with the Aggies, who play most of their tennis in the spring.
The University of Alaska Anchorage Seawolves have recruited 6-foot-9 sophomore forward Aaron Severson (Petersburg) out of Allan Hancock College in California. Severson averaged 7.0 points, 4.2 rebounds and 2.3 blocks per game for the Bulldogs last season and made the Dean's List academically.
The University of Alaska Fairbanks men's team will feature redshirt freshman forward Bryan Hamey (Juneau-Douglas), while the Nanooks will feature senior shooting guard Adrienne Taalak (Mount Edgecumbe) and senior point guard Courtney Mason (Juneau-Douglas, former Skagway resident).
The Juneau Empire's College Corner feature runs about once a month during the school year and is compiled by sports editor Charles Bingham from school Web sites and tips from readers, coaches and parents. If you know of any other college athlete from Southeast Alaska who should be included in the feature, please let us know. You can fax information to 586-3028, or you can e-mail the information to firstname.lastname@example.org.