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EHS HALL OF FAME: Kevin Knutson and Pele Houk inducted
In today’s world, finding a high school athlete who can make a mark in more than one sport is rare, but in the late 1980s and early 1990s, Enumclaw High School had a number of two- and often three-sport athletes.
Some, like Pele (Houk) Godkin and Kevin Knutson, not only played each game, but excelled.
The Enumclaw High Athletic Department Hall of Fame committee calls them all-around impact athletes and will induct both into its fold during a halftime ceremony at the Hornets’ boys basketball game Tuesday.
“Outstanding athletes who played multiple sports all throughout their high school careers,” EHS Athletic Director Kevin Smith said. “Pele Houk and Kevin Knutson clearly set the standard of what an all-around impact athlete represents at EHS.”
Godkin, a 1991 graduate, and Knutson, who graduated in 1985, were doing what came naturally and having fun participating in what, at the time, was a huge part of the Enumclaw community – high school sports.
“I remember the support from the community was outstanding. It was unbelievable,” said Knutson, who now makes his home in Buckley. “I remember coming out of the locker room or Pete’s Pool and seeing standing-room-only crowds. There was just this electricity.
“I remember the community support for every sport,” he said. “Wall to wall people for every sport.”
Both also recall fondly the support of coaches and the family atmosphere that came with belonging to a team.
“I remember we’d go to coaches’ houses for potluck dinners,” said Godkin, recalling mentors like Sue Campanoli, Tim Nelson and Dennis Hagan during a phone conversation from her Nashville, Tenn., office where she is an attorney for a civil litigation firm. “They’d come watch us play at college. We’d babysit their kids.
“They were invited to my wedding and graduations. They were all very important people to me. They had a big impact on my life.
“I’m so thankful I grew up there,” she said. “Honestly, I loved Enumclaw High School.”
Knutson was a triple-threat for the Hornets. Starting his sophomore year, he began collecting league Most Valuable Player honors in each sport and added all-state football honors to the list his senior year. In 1984, both the Hornets’ football and baseball teams made state appearances.
“The first thing I think of when I think of Kevin Knutson is he was the best natural athlete we’ve ever had,” said Ron Miller, who was at Enumclaw High for 30 years, including those he coached Knutson on the gridiron.
“He went to nationals for Punt, Pass and Kick for two or three years in a row,” Miller said. “You don’t do that if you don’t have the talent. He was a natural.
“The second thing I remember is he always had a smile on his face,” Miller said. “He was always happy. I don’t think he’s ever had a down day.”
After graduation, Knutson turned down a scholarship to Eastern Washington University and played baseball for Big Bend Community College. It was while there he was selected in Major League Baseball’s draft, in the second round by Kansas City, but an injury kept the first baseman from hitting the show.
“I really enjoyed football, but baseball was my ticket,” said Knutson, who played semiprofessional softball for several years. He now works for King County’s Department of Transportation, is a volunteer Buckley firefighter and is enjoying coaching the next generation – his son.
Godkin was a four-year letterwinner in basketball and softball and earned a spot on the varsity swim roster for three years, opting not to swim her senior year.
During her time as a Hornet, Godkin won the state 50-yard freestyle in 1987 with a time of 25.22 as EHS finished second to Olympia in the team standings. The Hornets won the state title in 1988 and Godkin was a part of the team’s winning 200 medley and 400 freestyle relays. She also played an integral roll in both the Hornets’ successful softball and basketball teams, earning all-state honors at shortstop her senior year.
Softball coach Tim Nelson called her remarkable.
“I was fortunate to coach kids like her and Resa (Watterson-Bolton, a Hall of Fame inductee in 2001-02),” Nelson said. “They were two all-around athletes. Resa and Pele are in a class by themselves.”
He said Godkin was a great leader on and off the field.
“She was very friendly and put other people before herself, that’s the kind of kid she was,” he said. “She just played because it was fun, basketball and softball weren’t work for her. That’s what’s so cool about both these inductees, they were great high school athletes.”
“She’s a good athlete and a good kid,” EHS girls basketball coach Dennis Hagan said. “Plus she’s a great student. You couldn’t go wrong with her. She was one of those happy go lucky people. I don’t know if she ever felt any pressure.”
Godkin elected to not accept any of the post-high school swimming offers that floated her way, instead opting to play basketball, on scholarship, at Green River Community College and Central Washington University, before being sidelined. She went on to earn her law degree from Seattle University.
With athletic director Tim Tubbs’ position eliminated, Smith said the Hall of Fame will survive the transition.
“The Hall of Fame is an amazing tradition started by Tim Tubbs, which will continue at EHS,” Smith said.
The committee will meet this spring to review and update the policies and filters for Hall of Fame selection. One of the thoughts under review, Smith said, is to offer the community the opportunity to nominate selections in the fall.