Local car dealer Bruce Titus celebrated pride in his alma mater last week while raising money for a good cause. Bruce Titus Automotive Group hosted the Pierce County Cougar Tailgate at Bruce Titus Subaru/Nissan on South Tacoma Way on June 3. The event served as a fundraiser for Washington State University's Student-Athlete Scholarship Fund.
About 125 people attended the event, the first one held in the Tacoma area. Mike Politeo, president of the Pierce County Cougar Club, encouraged the alumni and fans to spread the word to get a bigger turnout in the future. "Next year we are aiming for 300 people," he remarked.
Politeo described the event as an opportunity to connect with old friends and make some new ones.
Jim Walden, who was head football coach at Washington State from 1978 through 1986 and now does color commentary on radio broadcasts of Cougar football, served as master of ceremonies. Bill Moos, who became the new athletic director in April, was on hand as were head football coach Paul Wulff, head men's basketball coach Ken Bone and head women's basketball coach June Daugherty.
Daugherty mentioned recent success in recruiting players from the Puget Sound area. "We will keep bringing them to our part of the state and get them wearing the right colors."
Walden's radio partner Bob Robertson, a University Place resident who has called Cougar football games since the 1960s, dropped in.
"Lord willing we will both be back this fall so you can hear our ramblings," Walden quipped.
"You people know how to put on a party," Bone told the crowd.
Bone expressed enthusiasm about Andre Winston, Jr. heading to Pullman this fall to play for his team. The Lakes High School student helped lead the Lancers to third place in the 3A state tournament, earning the most valuable player honor. The Associated Press named him state co-player of the year for the 3A classification. "There are exciting times ahead for Cougar basketball."
"I would much rather do this than play golf," Wulff remarked. He discussed the rebuilding effort underway in his program. "We will be back. We will continue to do things the right way."
Moos grew up on a farm not far from Pullman and is a WSU alumnus. "I have wanted this job since I was 12 years old. I did not think it would take until I was 59 to get it."
The event was especially meaningful for Jason Belford. A 2004 Lincoln High School graduate, Belford was recruited to play football at Eastern Washington University when Wulff was the head coach there. After graduating last year he returned to Tacoma to ponder his options. "I still wanted to be around football," he remarked.
That wish came true when Wulff asked him to be a graduate assistant coach at Washington State. Belford is working on a master's degree in education and helping coach defensive linemen.
"It is a good deal. I am working on my master's while learning the ropes of coaching," Belford said.
Attending events like the tailgate provides a chance for Belford to connect with the Cougar fan base. "I am meeting a lot of people who are involved with Cougar athletics," he said.
Titus graduated from WSU in 1979. He helped run an alumni golf tournament for 15 years. For many years he has been involved in a program that provides vehicles for Cougar coaches to use.
Three days before the event, Titus had 35 people registered to attend. He sent out one last round of e-mails to his fellow Cougs and had 115 registered by the time the event started, plus a few walk-up ticket sales.
He gave credit to his daughter Courtney Titus, an employee at the dealership, for organizing the event and arranging all the decorations, right down to the crimson and gray balloons adorning cars for sale on the lot.