They called him Captain, and he was all of that and more. Athletic, strong, determined and always doing things the right way, that was Mike Anderson. So it was a horrific shock when his long-time friends found out their Captain drowned Sunday night (Sept. 7) while swimming to an island on Tiger Lake in North Mason County.
“His family owned property out there at Tiger Lake and the story I heard was that he was swimming with his wife,” said a broken-hearted Phil Scheer, classmate, teammate and long-time friend. “If you know Andy, he was swimming fast, to get to this island and he just went down. I don’t know what happened. Some people say if you get cramps you can’t float, you just go down.”
Andy’s wife apparently tried to pull him out, but couldn’t. A boater nearby was successful in getting him out, but efforts to revive him failed.
Anderson, 60, a 1972 graduate of West Bremerton High School where he played football, basketball and baseball, was the Bainbridge High School co-ed tennis coach – he also coached the Kingston High School boy’s tennis team – and had taught at Bainbridge since the fall of 1995 when he was hired to be the boy’s basketball coach. He was teaching economics and was the CTE instructor for the high school and Woodward Middle School,
“What a shock it was,” said Neal White, assistant pro at Wing Point Golf & Country Club who as athletic director at Bainbridge was the one who hired Anderson in 1995. “The weird thing is Mike and I was to ride together this weekend (Saturday, Sept. 12) to Ellensburg for the Central Washington football union for the years 1972-76.”
White played football at SheltonHigh School and played against West and Anderson when the two schools were still in the Olympic League. They also were quarterbacks together at Central Washington – Anderson was the No. 2 QB and White was No. 3, but also played defense as a combo linebacker-cornerback.
“This just really hurts,” said Scheer. It’s just like losing part of your family. Andy and I would have a couple beers a couple times a month. We kind of stopped doing it two or three years ago.”
Back in the late 1960s and early ‘70s, the center of attraction was the cement court at Star of the Sea school in Bremerton and many of the city kids who went on to star in athletics at the high school were regular fixtures there, and also with the Warren Avenue Pee Wees.
The core group included Scheer, Don Lay, Nick and Tim Garguile, Tim Miller (who died at the age of 48), Tom Whitaker, Cal Ormiston, Lonny Folger, who was a few years older, Terry Jensen, Mike Smith. Chuck Stark. Amderson wasn’t a member of the 7th Street, but lived just a few blocks away and was always with the group.
“He was the quarterback,” says Nick Garguile. “I called him Captain. Whether it was football, baseball or basketball, we’d be up late playing until somebody would kick us out (of Star of the Sea).”
Ormiston, owner of Outlook Inc that puts logos on just about anything, hasdjust gotten off the phone with his wife informing him their son had crashed his motorcycle (he wasn’t seriously hurt), saw his neighbor – Lay – outside and went out to ask about borrowing his trailer to get his son’s motorcycle back home and was informed by Lay of the tragic death of their teammate.
“I was heartbroken, just so shocked,” Ormiston said. “It was worse than the worse. I just about hit the floor. He was the most wonderful guy. He was my Captain, my quarterback, my point guard for all the teams I played. A great friend. I will miss him horribly. “
Lane C Dowell, teacher and coach at the time at West High School when Anderson played there, remembers a great story. Coach Chuck Semancik, everybody knows, was all about running the ball in football. His philosophy became known as ‘Ground Chuck.”
Before games the team would huddle in Semancik’s homeroom – room 108 – and get the pre-game prep talk.
“This was in the fall of 1971 and I believe it was Paul Stoffel’s first game as head coach at Central Kitsap,” Dowell said, noting that Stoffel was a former Bremerton player who had been an assistant to Semancik prior to taking the CK job.
“Chuck had a habit before a game to go through the starting lineup and then he would ask his quarterback what the first play was,” Dowell continued. “Of course, the first play was always power I off tackle – 32 to the left and 36 to the right.
“Mike replied ’36, Chuck.’
Semancik stunned everybody by thundering no. “It is 36x” Semancik said.
That play was a play-action pass. Semancik was known for Ground Chuck, running off the tackles and pounding opponents to death. He seldom allowed his quarterback to pass, so this was a shocker, indeed.
Anderson followed orders and on West’s first play he passed to a wide open Ormiston for a quick touchdown.
“Ormiston was so wide open, he could have crawled into the end zone,” Dowell said.
It was a perfect trap for Stoffel, who must have thought the first play was going to be a 36, a run off tackle. But Semancik tricked him, and Anderson, who was an accurate passer, pulled the trigger on it.
“I looked over at Stoffel and he had a look of amazement as to say, ‘What are you doing to me Chuck?’ “ Ormiston said. “We took it to him (28-0). We wanted it so bad.
“The thing about Mike is he did everything by the book – he did it the right way.”
Those core guys at Star of the Sea were really good. Led by Phil Scheer, who was over six-foot ball as an eighth-grader, they won 35 straight games until losing their junior year at West.
Anderson was a good high school shooter and passer in basketball, and was fluid in his efforts in all three sports.
“He played sports the way they were supposed to be played,” said Ormiston. “He did everything by the book – very classic in everything he did. If they wanted to film somebody who did it right, they would film Andy. He was the protype.
“He was sneaky tough. I remember our freshman year we got a very, very rough game with North Kitsap. North was pushing and shoving all over the place. Somebody undercut Andy and he had had enough. He punched the guy. I looked over and thought, “Andy?
“The referees felt so bad they had let the game get out of control they didn’t’ even throw Andy out. Coach sat him down to let him cool off. But Andy did what needed to be done. He knew how to lead. He knew when to take the shot and when to pass. He was a floor general on the basketball court and a general on the football field.”
Ormiston grew up with an older brother (Rick) who was a tremendous athlete and quarterback, but he believes Andy also was great as a quarterback.
“He was a natural,” says Ormiston. “He was amazing. He was soft-spoken, but he could zing you or he could make you laugh. If he needed to snap us to attention, he could. But he also could be funny in the huddle. “
Lay was a roommate of Anderson at Central Washington for their first year at the school and also remembers him as his Captain. They played together with the Warren Avenue Pee Wees since the age of 8 and were the guards on the 1970 West High basketball team.
“He was awesome, a great teacher,” says White. “He taught business education and leadership class. He’s one of those guys that would do anything, whatever was needed. He was always very professional, and a good guy, a great team player, not just in sports but in teaching and life.”
Scheer added, “He was balls out in everything he did. He never was half-speed. It was always full speed. He was a member of the tennis club (Kitsap Tennis and Athletic Center), played tennis, and gave tennis lessons.
“He was the guy who you knew would have lived way beyond you. He was just getting ready to retire (he was in his 37th year of teaching, 19 at Bainbridge) and he was healthy. He was the best quarterback I’ve ever seen. He threw a perfect pass”.
Ormiston thought about his playing days with Anderson and is still amazed today what Anderson could do. He was only about five-foot 10, but he could throw the ball better than anybody.
“I was always amazed,” said Ormiston, when I did go out for a pass – those rare occasions – and I’d look back and all I could see is these linemen. All of a sudden I’d see this perfect spiral coming to me and hit me in perfect stride. I just never knew how he saw me because we had one of the bigger lines in high school. But he knew how to pick you out.”
Now, just like that, Anderson is gone. Gone way too soon. But his friends – those from the 7th Street Gang in Bremerton and Star of the Sea, will cherish the good memories of the guy they call called Captain.
A memorial will be held for Anderson in the commons area of Bainbridge High School on Sept. 27 starting at 10 a.m.
Be well pal
Be careful out there.
Have a great day.
You are loved.