The Times - Serving Waitsburg, Dayton and the Touchet Valley

By Dena Martin
The Times 

Waitsburg Field House to be Named for 'Hula Hips' Zuger

Kenneth M. Zuger Field House is expected to be ready for football this fall

 

Courtesy Photo

Kenny Zuger, in his playing days at Waitsburg High

WAITSBURG – At their February regular meeting, the Waitsburg School Board made it official: the new Waitsburg Field House will be named for lifelong Waitsburg resident and WHS star football player Kenneth Marcus Zuger.

Several years ago, an anonymous donor made $40,000 available toward building a new much-needed field house at the Waitsburg Athletic Field. The one stipulation was that the building must be named for Kenneth M. Zuger, better known as Kenny.

The donor has since passed away, but his family has agreed to honor the bequest, and the funds will be added to the capital improvement bond funds approved by voters in November.

Zuger's son, Marcus Zuger, who now lives in Puyallup, wrote The Times with a bit of athletic history about his father, who was born in 1916 and graduated from Waitsburg High School in 1934.

"I suspect most of your readers will remember my dad, who lived his whole life in the house his father built at 325 Main Street. But most probably don't know his sports history," Marcus wrote.

Marcus said that Zuger was known as "Hula Hips" because of his unique ability to avoid tackles. He was the star running back in his senior year when Waitsburg won their league with a 7-1 record. Their lone loss was to Pasco, by just one touchdown. However, they won all their remaining games, including taking Lewiston 19-6 and Kennewick 37-0, he said.

An 'Al's Knick Knacks' sports column clipping, believed to be snipped from the Walla Walla Daily Bulletin (now the Union Bulletin), following the 37-0 Kennewick game reads, "The old title of 'Hula Hips' that they hung on Merle Hufford at the University of Washington, really belongs to Kenny Zuger, the ambling Waitsburg open-field runner. Why that boy twists hither and yon with his flanks better than any 'special show' performance from any carnival – as a majority of lads who have thought they had him firmly grasped in a tackle will testify."

Not only was Zuger a star football player, he was captain of the basketball team his senior year, and his 120-yard high hurdle time of 17 seconds flat, set in 1934, was a school track record for many years.

After high school, Kenny played football at Miramonte Jr. College in Atascadero, Calif., where he ended the season by making Miramonte's "All Time" team as a defensive guard.

Kenny kept journals with notes about his favorite games and football experiences throughout high school and college. Marcus said one of his favorite, and often recounted football memories occurred in 1936 when the Miramonte team got to scrimmage against the UCLA Freshman team.

Marcus said Kenny loved describing how he squirted through the line and tackled UCLA's star tailback for a loss for the third time. He had also rushed the quarterback, causing him to misfire several times. He finally heard the quarterback shout, "Who the hell is letting that little S.O.B. #25 through the line every time?!"

Later in the game, an official approached Kenny asking how much he weighed. When Kenny responded that he weighed 155 pounds, the referee just walked away shaking his head.

The game ended with Kenny faking a left, while running right to hit the quarterback while he was passing. The ball was intercepted for a pick six and Miramonte won the game by one touchdown!

Courtesy image

Architect's schematic of the Kenneth M. Zuger Field House, to be constructed at the Waitsburg footall field this summer.

The tailback in that game was Kenny Washington, who, in 1939, became UCLA's first All-American and the nation's first African American college football All-American.

Zuger remained an avid WHS sports fan throughout his life, attending most home games, and many away games – rain or shine. He frequently gave coaching tips and encouragement to local athletes.

A new field house has been in the planning stages for the last 20 years, according to Waitsburg School Board Chair Ross Hamann.

Construction on the new field house, which includes a concession area, ADA bathrooms, and team rooms is slated to begin later this spring and is expected to be ready for use next football season. It will be located north of the baseball field bleachers, near the track and will make Waitsburg eligible to host league tournaments.

 

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