Aug. 13, 2012
Cullowhee, N.C. - Three former student-athletes representing four different sports comprise the 2012 Western Carolina University Athletic Hall of Fame class announced this week. The 23rd induction class in school history will be placed into the Athletics Hall of Fame on the weekend of November 2-3 with special on-field recognition during the Catamounts' home football game against Southern Conference foe, Chattanooga.
Bill Stanley (Football, 1964-69), Eric Johnson (Football & Baseball, 1995-99) and Laura Tieszen Kamarainen (Women's Track & Field, 2002-05) make up the 2012 induction class.
Bill Stanley enjoyed a solid four-year career as both an offensive and defensive lineman for the Catamount football team under head coach Dan Robinson. Stanley was a part of three-consecutive, non-losing teams at WCU from 1964-66. Playing for WCU in the old Carolinas Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (CIAC aka Carolinas Conference, member from 1933-1976) - Stanley became the first - and only - Catamount to win the Kirkland Blocking Trophy in 1967.
The post-season accolades continued in '67 as Stanley was named to the NAIA District 26 squad and tabbed All-NAIA along the offensive front. He was additionally tabbed All-Carolinas Conference as a defensive tackle becoming the last Catamount to earn honors on offense and defense in the same season.
Stanley went on to a career in education including a 27-year career at Halifax Community College (HCC) in Weldon, N.C. He began as the evening director in 1973, quickly progressing to serve as the college's Associate Dean of Evening Programs, the Dean of Continuing Education and the Vice President of the College in 1989. In 1999, Stanley was honored as the "Administrator of the Year" on-campus.
Under his direction, notable accomplishments of HCC include the establishment of the HCC Small Business Center and industrial training programs. He established firefighter training programs and provided the campus leadership in the statewide restructuring and reengineering process, mandated by the North Carolina Community College System. One of his most recognized accomplishments was the organization and successful implementation of the HCC Pulp & Paper Technology Program - the only one of its kind in the state community college system.
An avid golfer, Stanley set a course record of 63 at Carolina Shores Golf and Country Club.
Stanley remains very active within the Catamount Club, having served on the Board of Directors numerous years as well as serving on various Catamount Club and athletic department committees.
Eric Johnson was a two-sport athlete at Western Carolina from 1995-98, playing both football and baseball for the Catamounts. A two-time All-America selection in 1997 and '98, Johnson is one of just two former Catamount football players to earn consensus first team All-America accolades, joining Kerry Hayes (1993).
Johnson was a two-time, first-team All-Southern Conference selection on defense for the Catamounts, while also garnering first team league plaudits in baseball. He is only one of five student-athletes in Southern Conference history to be named first team All-SoCon in football and baseball in the same year, doing so in the 1998-99 academic year. Additionally, as a rookie, the Shallotte, N.C., native was named to the SoCon All-Freshman team.
Johnson remains tied for third in WCU career history for tackles, amassing 326 total hits including 219 solo stops. He also holds two of the top 10 single-season tackle totals including fourth with 128 hits in 1997 and ninth with a team-best 118 tackles in 1998. In 2000, he was named a defensive back on WCU's 20th Century Football Team.
On the diamond, Johnson was a first team All-SoCon selection in the 1999 season, pacing the squad with a school single-season record 83 runs scored on 100 base hits - the latter a mark which remains fourth in school single-season history. Once on base, the speedy Johnson remained a threat, collecting a school-record 46 stolen bases in '99 - which remains tied for sixth in the SoCon record books. Johnson remains fifth in program history with 59 combined stolen bags. He was a two-time SoCon All-tournament team honoree, earning the plaudits in 1998 and '99.
All told in 1999, Johnson ranked first in the SoCon in runs scored (83) and ranked in the top 10 in batting average (.388), hits (100), home runs (10) and stolen bases (46). He continues to rank fifth in the SoCon single-season record books with his 83 runs scored while his 46 steals remain tied for sixth all-time.
He additionally earned a SoCon Player of the Week accolade once during 1999. He was drafted by the Cleveland Indians following the season, selected in the third round with 107th overall pick - the highest for a Catamount baseball player since 1993. He remained in the Indians organization for three years, progressing to the Class A Kinston (N.C.) Indians before returning to the gridiron, making the practice squad with the Chicago Bears as a defensive back in 2001. He again returned to the diamond in 2003-04 with the Boston Red Sox organization, progressing to the Sox's Double-A affiliate in Portland.
Johnson returned to finish his degree from WCU in 2004.
Laura Tieszen Kamarainen captured 13 All-Southern Conference accolades during her outstanding four-year Western Carolina track & field career between the pole vault, javelin and the pentathlon/heptathlon events. She was a six-time SoCon champion in the women's pole vault including three individual crowns split equally between both the indoor and outdoor seasons, while also claiming individual championships in the outdoor heptathlon and the indoor pentathlon in 2005.
Tieszen, who continues to hold both the league and school pole vault record of four meters (13'1.48") set in the 2004 SoCon outdoor championship, was a three-time SoCon Most Valuable Field Performer, earning the recognition in both the 2004 indoor and outdoor championships and again in the `05 outdoor championships. Also during the 2004 outdoor championship event, Tieszen collected a runner-up finish in the 2004 javelin throw en route to being named field MVP at the meet. She was also tabbed as WCU's Female Student-Athlete of the Year at the year-ending awards banquet in '04.
A native of Rapid City, South Dakota, Tieszen also dominated the SoCon's indoor pole vault competition from 2003-05, winning the event three consecutive seasons. She additionally competed in the pole vault at the junior national level as a true freshman in 2002. Also, Tieszen held WCU's record in the indoor pentathlon from 2004 until 2010, collecting 3,102 points.
Combined, Tieszen was a three-time SoCon Athlete of the Week selection between both the indoor and outdoor seasons, while also garnering numerous Student-Athlete of the Week honors recognizing both performance athletically and in the classroom. She was also tabbed the league's track & field athlete of the month in February of 2005.