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Bremerton High's gym renamed to honor coaches Ken Wills and Les Eathorne
The legacies of two adored Bremerton coaches will live on through the name of the Bremerton High School gymnasium and basketball court.
The Bremerton School Board voted unanimously Thursday to rename the facility Les Eathorne Gymnasium and Ken Wills Court, honoring two coaches who are recognized as pioneers of Bremerton basketball and men who shaped the lives of the players they coached.
“In my hometown we have a lot of traditions and we don’t forget them,” said board member Louis Mitchell “It seems to me somewhere along the way we forgot this one ... I’m very happy we got to this point, but I’m sad it took so long.”
A citizens group comprised of East and West High alumni spearheaded the naming effort, which began about three years ago when a policy was in place that prohibited the district from naming school facilities after people.
The policy was changed in August.
“This has been a long time coming,” said board member Vicki Collins.
Funding for the project – the citizens group did not provide an estimate – will come from private parties. The group wants the gym floor to be painted with Wills’ name when it is resurfaced this summer, and for two honorary plaques to go up near the gym entrance or inside the gym.
Per Eathorne’s request, his plaque would read: “Play to win; losing can be a habit."
Both Eathorne, 86, and Wills ran up impressive coaching resumes, sitting eighth and 14th, respectively, on the state’s all-time wins list.
They are recognized for putting Bremerton basketball on the map, Eathorne winning two state championships at East during the 1970s and Wills taking 15 teams to the state tournament and compiling a 472-164 record.
“The one thing that I will challenge out is to make sure that when we hire coaches, and the current coaches, make sure they teach the history of these people,” said board member Dave Boynton. “We have a lot of names on a lot of things around here. But if we don’t pass on to our next generation, and the second generation after that, who those people are and the importance they’ve played in the community tree, then the naming thing goes to waste. That’s the important thing.”