1979 POLAR BEARS WOMEN'S FASTPITCH TEAM

Front row l. to r.: Margaret Cassidy (C), Kris Lemon (RF), Kathy Pandrea (OF), Lorie Isaac Timberman (P), Terri Pollen (C/UTIL), Jody Grace (SS), Debbie Osada (C/OF), and Darvee Olsen (2B).
Back row l. to r.: Dick Pollen (Coach). Elaine Folgers (DH/OF), Connie Bridges (P), Margaret Steeves (CF), Vi Stewart (P), Cindy Miller (LF), Peggy Ellis (1B), Trish Hackett (SS/3B), and Mike Kondra (Assistant Coach).

 

That the 1979 Polar Bears reached the national tournament would have been enough to rank among the elite teams in Pierce County history. Although they did not top the 20-team field at the end of the Bay City, Mich., tournament proved hardly a smudge on their spectacular season.

"I think in the long run we were the big winners back there," coach Dick Pollen said of the tournament run.

The team finished with a 39-8 season record, finishing 1-2 at the national tournament. The Bears started the tournament in Bay City against Salt Lake City. Nerves got the best of the team, as the Bears gave up five runs in the bottom of the first inning.

"Our team was just very nervous," Pollen said. "We really had a rough start."

A strong comeback bid in the seventh fell just short, as the Bears scored six runs but still lost 9-7. The Bears bounced back in their second game, using a pair of RBI from both Peggy Ellis and Margaret Steeves to beat Wilton, Conn., 8-4 and stave off elimination. From that point, the Bears dropped a 7-6 decision to Plymouth, Ind., in which they rallied for five runs in the seventh but couldn't quite complete the comeback.

"We got to be known as the comeback kids," Pollen said. "But we never quite came back far enough."

Off the field, however, the tournament left the team with great experiences and new relationships, prompting Pollen's comments about the Bears being the big winners. The players had to cover the cost of the trip by raising their own funds, meaning that they could not afford first class accommodations.

However, the team's plans to stay together in a church basement or gymnasium would not prove true when someone in Bay City determined that was no way for a visiting softball team to stay for the national tournament. They put an ad in the local newspaper, and Bill and Katie Pichiotino responded with some Michigan hospitality.

The team stayed in the Pichiotino's large basement and quickly built relationships with Bill and Kate, as well as their daughters, Pam and Paula. The team also befriended a local restaurant owner who picked up the check for one of their meals.

In the end, the Polar Bears finished in the middle of the 20-team field. But their accomplishments on the field in reaching the national tournament will never be forgotten. And the relationships and memories they made along with way will last forever.

Polar Bears Memories - Cindy (Miller) Lundquist

Another team mate of ours from a few years past, Susie (Heddinger) Daletas, who is also with us here today at our induction to the Hall of Fame, reminded me of one story that we never told Coach Pollen, or any of our parents for that matter and that was the time we had an away tournament in Olympia and stayed at a campsite in Millersylvania.  We got there late after our Friday evening game, and had trouble pitching the tent, so we ended up laying it out flat and we all slept on top of the tent.  There were about 12 of us.  We never got any sleep that night because there was a team of boys next to us in the campsite that  were partying hard.  They tried to get us to party with them, but we had no intentions of doing so and had an early game the next morning.  They even tried climbing in to bed with us between Susie and Kris.  Well, after a few threats and a couple of our baseball bats on their legs, we quickly let them know they were not welcomed!  You could tell from how they walked in the morning, who they were!   J We ended up winning that tournament, sleepless in Olympia!  If I remember correctly, both Trish and Jody got all-star awards and I think it was Jody that got MVP.  May have been Trish, as they seemed to alternate back and forth between the two of them.  I think it became a fun competition, from each one of us to beat them out and earn it for ourselves!  It was great team camaraderie.

I remember first coming back to play for the team after 4 years of being gone in my Junior year in High School. My family moved us to a little po-dunk town in Burley Idaho. They were not up to speed wih girls sports and all they had to offer was slow pitch. After being out of the fast pace for that long, I couldn't catch a single ball hit at me on my return to Washington. I've always played pitcher, second base and short stop, but somehow I just didn't have what it took and I remember everyone shaking their heads and Darvee Olsen asking and wondering why Dick allowed me back on the team. Coach Pollen, knowing my old abilities, put me out in the left field until I could get back in the swing of things (no pun intended).

I was so embarrassed that I went home and asked my dad, who was a very good baseball player himself for many years, to help me learn how to catch left field. He hit ball after ball to me until my depth perception and eye hand corrdination became refined. I set it in my head that I would catch anything and everything that came in my direction. And so the season began...


There are many wonderful memories, but the play I remember most is the game that put us into championship playoffs.  We were ahead by 1 run, with the other team up to bat with their heaviest hitter and a runner on first.  The ball was cranked high into left center field.  I knew it was waaaaaay over my head, so I just turned and ran as fast as I could to try and keep her from getting to home plate to win the game.  I ran and I ran and I ran and at  the last minute, I did not think I had a chance in a lifetime of catching that  ball but I gave it a shot and leaped up as high as I could go and that ball  landed in my mitt.  The runner on first was rounding 3rd base, so I threw it as hard as I could to first base and we made a double play to win the game!   Darvee and I became very good friends after I forgave her for making that comment.  Actually, it motivated me, so I have always been grateful to her!

Every game we ever played, whether we were playing well, or not having such a great game, we were always cheering each other on and encouraging one another.  Coach forced us to do so in the beginning and then it just became natural for us.  We were a TEAM!  And although not everyone got to play all the games, all the time, we had the best players all the way around.  We were ready to play whenever and wherever Coach Pollen asked us to play!

It was an Honor to play for Coach Dick Pollen!

 

Connie Bridges-McClary: Connie was born in Tacoma and graduated from Mount Tahoma High School. She played softball for various teams from 1974 to 1994, including pitching for the Polar Bears teams that went to the national championships in 1977 and 1979. She earned several most valuable player awards, numerous all-star awards ad participated on several league championship teams. She lives in University Place and works as an operations reporting analyst for Comcast.

Margaret Cassidy: Margaret was born in Portland, Ore., and graduated from Curtis High School. She graduated from the University of Puget Sound in 1988. She lives in Coeur d'Alene, Idaho.

Jody Grace: Jody was born in Tacoma and graduated from Curtis High School. She attended Green River Community College on a basketball scholarship. She played shortstop for the Polar Bears and earned most valuable player and all-star selections throughout her career. Jody operated her own small business prior to her death in January 1991.

Trish Hackett: Trish was born in Tacoma and graduated from Lakes High School. She graduated from the University of Washington and played softball for close to 25 years. She  played third base and earned various all-star and tournament most valuable player awards throughout her career. She lives in Renton and works as a management information coordinator at Wyerhaeuser.

Kris Lemon Schleigh: Kris was born in Tacoma and graduated from Curtis High School. She attended the University of Puget Sound and the University of Washington, and graduated from Pacific Lutheran University. She played outfield on the softball field and was one of Coach Pollen's original players with the 1972 Polar Bears, playing with the team until 1984. She lives in University Place, Wash., and works as a second grade teacher in the University Place School District.

Cindy (Miller) Lundquist: Cindy was born in Mt. Home, Idaho, and attended Curtis High School and Burley High School in Idaho. She attended Idaho State University. Cindy played various positions on the softball diamond, playing with the Asarco Polecats and 1979 Polar Bears team. She considers playing for Coach Pollen to be the highlight of her career. Cindy lives in Cathedral City, Calif., working in computer programming and sales.

Darvee Olsen: Darvee was born in Tacoma and graduated from Tyee High School in SeaTac, Wash. She attended Central Washington and Highline Community College. Darvee played for numerous softball teams from the late 1960s to the mid 1980s, including the 1979 Polar Bears. As far as she knows, she and her mother, Mac Olsen, comprised the first mother-daughter fastpitch combination. She lives in Kent, Wash., and works as a surveillance observer at the Great American Casino in Tukwila.

Debbie Osada: Debbie played for the QFC Royals, Peoples' Church Women's Fastpitch and Evergreen Chiropractic Women's Slowpitch, as well as the Polar Bears. She was part of the high school state slowpitch championship in 1979 and earned Class C State Women's Slowpitch Championship and most valuable player. She lives in Tacoma.

Kathy Pandrea: Kathy was born in Tacoma and graduated from Curtis High School. She attended Saint Martin's University and graduated in 1998. She played for the Polar Bears from 1978 to 1980 despite suffering a serious knee injury in 1978 that began the end of her athletic endeavors. She considers Coach Pollen to be the best coach she ever had and credits him for the Polar Bears' success. She lives in Federal Way and works for the City of Tacoma.

Terri (Pollen) Koberstein: Terri was born in Tacoma and graduated from Curtis High School. She attended the University of Puget Sound and the University of Washington. During her softball-playing days, Terri played pretty much everywhere on the field, and she played in two national tournaments for the Polar Bears (1977 and 1979). She earned all-star team honors at several tournaments during that time. She worked for West Cost Grocery, Tacoma Boatbuilding and Commonwealth Title before becoming a stay-at-home mom.

Margaret Steeves: Margaret was born in Tacoma and graduated from Lincoln High School. She participated in softball from 1965 to 1983, also participating in track & field, field hockey, volleyball, basketball, soccer, badminton and decathlons. She played centerfield for the Polar Bears and earned an all-star selection at the 1979 regional tournament in Kennewick, Wash. Margaret lives in Puyallup and works at R.E.I.

Lorie Timberman Mulhern: Lorie was born in Miles City, Montana and graduated from Fife High School. She pitched, caught and played first and third base on the softball field, also playing basketball, volleyball and tennis. She lives in Gig Harbor and is a PGA golf professional.