GODFREY – The year was 1979 and the top hit was the upbeat “Good Times” by Chic—and it was good times for the Lewis and Clark Community College Bucks volleyball team.
That season, the Bucks posted a 32-0 state record, won the state championship and earned a trip to nationals at Miami Dade College on Thanksgiving weekend.
Now, 37 years later, members of the 1979 Bucks volleyball team are being inducted into the Lewis and Clark Trailblazers Athletics Hall of Fame.
Inductees are selected to the hall of fame by a committee of college officials and local media.
“We are proud to induct the 1979 Bucks volleyball team into the Trailblazers Hall of Fame,” said L&C Athletic Director Doug Stotler. “These talented athletes and their coach made an outstanding contribution to Lewis and Clark athletics and are very deserving of this recognition.”
“We were like a family on and off the court,” Tracy McIntyre Cook said, as she flipped through a scrapbook documenting her days playing volleyball and basketball for the college. “This induction into the hall of fame is a real honor, and it brings back so many great memories. We had a really talented group of athletes who were very cohesive as a team. But above all, we were like a family.”
Cook’s daughter, Lauren Cook, followed her mother’s lead and has played volleyball at Lewis and Clark for the last two years.
“A lot has changed in volleyball since I played at the college,” Tracy McIntyre Cook said. “There is a new gym and even the game is played differently, but the comradery is still the same.”
“Everyone worked hard to win the state title and trip to nationals,” said Bucks Volleyball Head Coach Judy Gass. “It was a wonderful experience for the team.”
The Bucks brought home the state trophy after winning six matches in two weekends at host Parkland College in Champaign, Illinois.
Seeded fourth, the Bucks defeated Lake County 15-5, 15-9, Sauk Valley 15-2, 15-13 and DuPage 15-7, 15-4 to qualify for the quarterfinal.
The fifth game was one of their toughest matches. Amidst cheers for the home team, Parkland, the Bucks won the first game 16-14 after a tie at 14, which required extra points and a two-point lead to win. Parkland came back to win the second game 16-4, but the Bucks took the third game 15-8.
“Defeating Parkland at home was key to us winning the state tournament,” Gass said. “Each player did her very best and it paid off.”
In the semifinal, the Bucks defeated Joliet 11-15, 15-4, 15-8 and faced top-seeded Illinois Central in the final — winning 15-7, 5-15, 15-3.
After bringing home the state trophy, Strack and Mendez were named to the all-tournament team. Mendez was also named National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA) Volleyball All-American.
Stotler said during this era of NJCAA athletics, the 1979 team’s accomplishments were extremely remarkable.
“This state title was achieved when NJCAA volleyball played in only one division compared to today’s version of three distinctively unique levels of play,” Stotler said. “I can confidently attest that this 1979 Bucks accomplishment is the most impressive feat in the history of L&C volleyball.”
The Bucks were seeded ninth out of 20 teams at nationals but were in a bracket with No. 1 Kellogg Community College, of Battle Creek, Michigan, top-seeded Suffolk, of New York and Vermillion, of Minnesota. Ultimately, Kellogg earned the 1979 national title.
Still, that year will forever be on the minds of the 10 Bucks team members, for that was the year the team earned more than any L&C volleyball team before or since. Together, their accomplishments will be memorialized in the Lewis and Clark Hall of Fame.
For more information on the Hall of Fame or L&C Athletics, call (618) 468-6002.