The 1961 men’s tennis team distinguished itself both for its overall winning record and for its finish at the NAIA tournament. The Pirates finished with a match record of 18-3, defeating many larger schools including Washington State (twice), Gonzaga (twice), Idaho, Montana State and Oregon State. Whitworth went on to finish fourth at the NAIA tournament in Oklahoma City, where Marsh Reynolds and Bob Quall advanced to the semifinals of the doubles tournament and Reynolds made the quarterfinals of the singles tournament. The members of the team were: Kay Barney, Dave Deal, Bob Duryee, Jon Ferguson, Fred Grimm, Jay Jackson, Bob Quall, Marshall Reynolds, and Richard Riley.
Allison (Nani) Blake initiated the rise of Whitworth College’s swimming team into a regional and national small college power by becoming the first individual national champion in the school’s history. As a junior in 1993 Blake won the NAIA title in the 1,650-yard Freestyle. Her winning time of 17:30.94 was the fifth fastest in NAIA history at the time and remains a Whitworth record and the fastest time ever by a Northwest Conference Swimmer. She qualified for the NAIA championships in the maximum of 12 individual events over her four-year career and scored in 11 of those races. She was an All-American (top six finish) six times. Also in 1993, Blake was the NCIC Women’s Swimmer of the Year after winning all three of her individual events at the conference championship meet, including a record-setting performance in the 1,650.
Norm Harding is one of the greatest all-around athletes in Whitworth history. As a baseball player he helped lead the Pirates to the the 1960 NAIA title. As a junior and senior in 1961 and 1962 he was the team’s Most Valuable Player. In football Harding was a First Team All-Evergreen Conference linebacker in 1960, when the Pirates advanced to the NAIA semi-finals. In 1961 he led the team with four interceptions. He was a varsity letter-winner on the basketball team in 1960. In 1962 he signed a professional contract with the New York Yankees’ organization and played two seasons of minor league baseball (Greensboro, North Carolina in 1962 and Rock Hill, South Carolina in 1963) before an injury to his throwing arm forced his retirement. Before attending Whitworth, Harding was a First Team All-City League selection in football, basketball and baseball at Rogers (Spokane HS). After his minor league career, Harding went on to play two seasons of semi-professional football, become a standout fast pitch softball player in the Northwest, and one of the top amateur bowlers in the region with nine 300 games to his credit.
Jennifer Tissue is the most recent Pirate graduate, man or woman, to be drafted by a major professional league. In 2000 Tissue was selected in the inaugural draft of the WUSA by the Boston Breakers, for whom she played for one season. As a soccer player at Whitworth, Tissue set individual scoring records that have not been challenged by any soccer player in Whitworth history. She holds Pirate records for goals in a season (20), goals in a career (60), assists in a season (14), points in a season (54), points in a career (145). Tissue led the Pirates to NCIC titles in 1993 and 1996. She was a four-time First Team All-Conference selection and was the NCIC Player of the Year in 1995 and 1996. She was an NAIA All-American in 1996. As a basketball player, Tissue scored 1,199 career points and set Pirate records for free throw percentage (86.8%) and field goal percentage (56.8%) in a single season. In 1995-96, Tissue helped the Pirates make the second round of the NAIA Division II tournament.