Kellen Moore’s hall of fame intro, featuring Chris Petersen and Bryan Harsin
Seven unlikely journeys.
Seven inspiring success stories.
The Boise State Athletics Hall of Fame welcomed its first class of inductees in 11 years Friday night — a group that includes the winningest quarterback in college football history (Kellen Moore), the only Broncos football player to earn consensus All-America honors on the field and first-team Academic All-America honors in the classroom (Nate Potter), the winningest men’s golfer in school history (Graham DeLaet), the only two-time national champion (javelin thrower Gabriel Wallin), two of the most decorated female athletes (track and field stars Abigail Ferguson and Eleni Kafourou) and the longtime Voice of the Broncos (Paul J. Schneider).
And to hear them tell it, none of that success could have been predicted in their teenage years.
“I’ve had a lot of good luck, a lot of good fortune,” said Potter, an offensive tackle who played from 2008 to 2011 and previously graduated from Timberline High, “so when something cool like this happens, the first thing you think about is all the people who helped you.”
Here are the stories the seven inductees told at the ceremony:
▪ Abigail Ferguson: The 10-time Big Sky Conference champion in jumps and sprints (1994-97) came to Boise State on a scholarship from the Bahamas. She studied biology and returned home to become a teacher before recently moving into real estate and finance. She thanked Boise State “for helping me find my purpose in life.”
▪ Gabriel Wallin: The 2004-05 NCAA javelin champion delighted the crowd with stories about his transition from Sweden, where he returned after college and competed for more than a decade. The variety of burgers (the guacamole-bacon burger at Carl’s Jr. was his favorite), garbage disposals and automatic ice dispensers were among the wonders he discovered in Boise. And the NBA — the pro sports league he learned about through VHS tapes his older brother brought back from Australia — was on TV nearly every night. In his younger days, he thought he’d play pro basketball. “The years went by and my focus shifted away from basketball — not in terms of interest, but in terms of talent,” he joked.
▪ Paul J. Schneider: His dad once told him to find something he liked to do, “and then find a way to make money doing it.” That’s what Schneider discovered in sports broadcasting, a profession he became enamored with while listening to college football games as a kid in the Midwest. “I used to lay in bed and listen to games,” he said. “Lindsey Nelson, when you heard that voice, you knew it was Saturday and you knew Notre Dame was playing football.” The yearbook from his seventh-grade year predicted he would become a sportscaster, and he found his way there through a TV job at KBOI that morphed into the role of radio play-by-play announcer when KBOI radio acquired the Boise State contract. Schneider called Broncos games for 35 years, through 2007, and “loved every minute of it.” He remembers fondly the radio-only days — when far-flung fans and parents would meet the broadcasters for pie on road trips and tell them stories of listening to games on a roof in California or underneath a power line in Arizona. “It became a big family affair,” Schneider said. “... They liked my passion, and so did I. I liked caring about what I did.” He called nearly 2,000 Boise State games in his career. He figured he’d get into the Hall of Fame eventually — “probably when I was dead.” “It’s the highlight of my life,” he said, “and I’ve had a few.”
▪ Eleni Kafourou: The 2009 NCAA indoor long jump champion and 12-time conference champion came to Boise State from Greece, where she still lives. She also graduated near the top of her class in civil engineering. The induction, she said, served as a reminder of “who I am and what I can do when I put my mind to it.” She got her start in track and field in fourth grade, when she was placed in the 50 meters and long jump in a city-wide competition with no experience. She won the 50 meters and finished second in the long jump. “That was it for me — the feeling gave me meaning,” she said. Then-Boise State coach Mike Maynard called her the “Queen of the Runway” because of her expertise in the long jump and triple jump but she tended to “choke” in the big meets, she said. When she won her title, Maynard told her, “Do you realize now what I meant?”
▪ Nate Potter: The three-time all-conference tackle introduced the “independent, intelligent, strong, wonderful women” at his table: two aunts, his mother-in-law, his grandma, his mom and his wife, whom he met on the first day of his sophomore year at Timberline. “Thank you for seeing the potential in a gangly, curly-haired moron,” he told her. He confessed that he’s not the best offensive lineman in the program’s recent history — he cited left tackle Ryan Clady, the first first-round NFL Draft pick in school history; Daryn Colledge, a longtime NFL lineman; and Scott Huff, the outstanding center who coached Potter — but he also knows what set him apart in the committee’s eyes. “I prided myself on trying to reach my full potential as a student and an athlete,” Potter said. “I approached the classroom with the same competitive spirit and fear of failure that I did on the football field. I’m a part of this elite group of inductees because the satisfaction I got from an A paper was the same that I got from a win on the Blue.” Like some of the Hall of Famers who preceded him, Potter said, he hopes to earn his induction not through his past success but through his future endeavors. He recently was named an offensive line coach at College of Idaho. “I vow to use this platform given to me as a springboard for the betterment of not only myself but all of those around me,” he said. “I aspire to be like past inductees Cedric Minter and Bart Hendricks, who have become pillars in this community and ambassadors for Boise State University.”
▪ Graham DeLaet: He grew up in small-town Saskatchewan playing six months of hockey and six months of golf. His game flourished under the direction of then-coach Kevin Burton, who remains a close friend and playing partner. “I had skills, but I really didn’t know how to play the game,” DeLaet said. “KB was the guy who taught me how to play.” DeLaet left as a 10-time winner and the 2006 WAC Player of the Year. He developed into a veteran on the PGA Tour — playing in all four majors and the Olympics, traveling the world and visiting the White House. “It’s just amazing where the game has taken me,” he said. Like many of the honorees, he became emotional while thanking his family. His wife, Ruby, even left a note in his speech on his phone not to cry during that section. “I love you so much. I could sit here and talk about you all night long,” DeLaet said to Ruby, “but Kellen’s got to come up.”
▪ Kellen Moore: The man who led Boise State to a 50-3 record from 2008 to 2011 was introduced by video by former coach Chris Petersen, now at Washington, and current coach Bryan Harsin — as was Potter. Harsin recalled Moore’s “4-inch binder” of plays he’d drawn while growing up as a coach’s son in Prosser, Wash. Petersen marveled at Moore’s focus during the 2007 Hawaii Bowl trip, when Moore was redshirting and there was zero chance he’d play, and toughness after a big hit in a 2008 game at Oregon, the moment many in the program cite as the beginning of the Moore legend. “I’m thinking, ‘We got ourselves a quarterback,’ ” Petersen said. Moore, now the Dallas Cowboys quarterbacks coach, raved about the people in and around the Boise State program. “You’ve got to realize anything great that happens in life you’re surrounded by great people —that’s the reason for so much of it,” he said. That 50-3 record? It was no fluke, he said. “We were really good. We had really good players.”