Becoming a top high jumper takes great technique and lots of practice, but it also helps to be able to soar.
And, goodness, could Vicki Borsheim soar.
Borsheim, today Vicki Beskind, won a state championship as a senior at Everett’s Cascade High School, where she graduated in 1984. In her junior season at the University of Washington she jumped 6-2¾, which remains a UW record. And at the 1990 U.S. Championships she jumped 6-4, a mark that is believed to be the best in history by a native Washington woman.
Beskind, one of 12 individuals and teams being inducted into the Snohomish County Sports Hall of Fame on Wednesday night, just missed qualifying for the 1992 United States Olympic team. But she competed internationally at other meets, including the 1990 Goodwill Games in Seattle, and the chance to represent her country was always a thrill.
“When I got my very first USA uniform, I was in England (for a meet) and I remember crying,” said Beskind, who is 47. “I just remember thinking, ‘I’m going to represent the United States.’ That was always so meaningful to me.
“But it was the same way whether I was competing for the United States, the University of Washington or the Cascade Bruins.”
A volleyball player and gymnast as a younger girl, Beskind took up high jumping as a Cascade freshman. She won her first meet, jumping 4-11, “and after that I was hooked,” she said.
Volleyball and gymnastics required her to jump in explosive bursts, and Beskind believes that translated well to high jumping. But she was also born with a gift, as evidenced by her ability to dunk a Nerf ball on a 10-foot basketball hoop. Not bad for a 5-foot-10 athlete, boy or girl.
In 1987, while Husky Stadium was being renovated, the UW track team held its home meets at Everett Memorial Stadium. On May 9 of that year, at a dual meet against Washington State, Beskind leaped 6-2¾, establishing a Washington record that has stood for 26 years.
“I was very excited (by the record), and I was also very happy that it happened at my old high school track,” Beskind said.
For all her accomplishments, Beskind’s career also had disappointments. One of the most heartbreaking was in 1992, when she finished fourth at the U.S. Olympic Trials, missing by one place a spot on the American team for the Summer Games in Barcelona. The jumpers in second, third, fourth and fifth places all had the same heights, so the outcome was determined by misses.
Beskind retired after 1992 and then returned to jumping briefly in 1996, but a hamstring injury prompted her second and final retirement.
She lives today in Tucson, Ariz., with her husband of 19 years — Dan Beskind, a physician at the University of Arizona Medical Center — and children Hannah, 15; Sam, 13; and Julia, 7. She has done some coaching, but these days she mostly volunteers here and there, including as a timer for her daughters’ swim teams.
Looking back on her career, Beskind says simply, “I loved it. There was a lot of hard work and there were definitely times I was very disappointed. But the one kind of unique thing about my career, I was able to make small increments of progress over a very long period of time.”
In addition to Beskind, the athletes being inducted this year include basketball player Milena Flores from Snohomish, baseball player Dave Hamilton from Edmonds, gymnast Brett McClure from Mill Creek, football player Chuck Nelson from Everett, and boxer Robert Shannon from Edmonds.
The coaching inductees are Karen Blair of Meadowdale High School (basketball), Tom Campbell of Edmonds High School and later Edmonds-Woodway High School (cross country), and the late Dick Erickson, the ex-UW crew from Arlington.
Also being inducted is the late Cliff Gillies, an educator who worked in the Monroe, Snohomish and Mukilteo school districts, and was later the executive director of the Washington Interscholastic Activities Association.
Lastly, the two teams being inducted are the 1972 Sultan High School football team and the 2003-04 Meadowdale High School girls basketball team.
Frank Foster, chair of the Hall of Fame selection committee, admits he was “blown away by the accomplishments of this year’s inductees. Their bios reflect what incredible achievements these people have made in sports. … It’s just another tremendous class being inducted from Snohomish County.”
Wednesday’s induction banquet will be at the Edward D. Hansen Conference Center at Everett’s Comcast Arena. Tickets are no longer available for the event, which begins with a 5:30 p.m. social hour and silent auction. Dinner is at 6:30 p.m., followed by the program at approximately 7 p.m.
Early arrivers can also visit the Hall of Fame’s permanent display in Comcast Arena from 5-6 p.m.