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CWU Hall of Famer Invests $250,000 in CWU Athletics

The Central Washington University Foundation recently received a significant donation for CWU Athletics as a part of the university’s inaugural Giving Tuesday campaign.

CWU alumnus and athletic hall of famer Dave Heaverlo, and his family, committed $250,000 to Wildcat Athletics. The gift, which is the largest outright gift in the history of the Athletic department, was made with his days at Central firmly in mind.

“Central opened so many doors for me, that I have fonder memories of my days on the Ellensburg campus than I do of playing in the big leagues,” Heaverlo said. “I’ve always taken the approach that Central doesn’t owe me anything—I owe everything to Central. I’m at a stage in my life now where I can give back to a university that has meant so much to me.”

“Central Athletics is proud to call Dave one of our own, and we are overwhelmed by his generosity and passion for his alma mater,” said CWU Athletic Director Dennis Francois. “Dave left his mark as a student-athlete at Central and his gift will greatly enhance the experience of future Wildcats as we strive to become the premier NCAA Division II program in the county.”

“Dave and his family are such a huge part of the Wildcat family,” noted CWU President James L. Gaudino. “We are grateful for their continued partnership with us and energized by their tangible investment in the vision of our athletic program.”

The Wildcat baseball record book is still liberally peppered with the name of Dave Heaverlo. The best pitcher in university history, he parlayed his Central experience into a Major League Baseball career, as a reliever with San Francisco (1975-77), Oakland (1978-79, 1981), and Seattle (1980-81).

Born in Ellensburg, Heaverlo moved to Moses Lake as a youngster, going on to become a star high school baseball player. But he did not envision himself going to college.

“I thought I would sign a professional baseball contract,” Heaverlo recalled. “But Freddy (former CWU athletic director Gary Frederick) called me. He was my first Little League coach. He told me about how the Wildcat baseball program had progressed and, to me, the future looked really bright. Freddy was, primarily, the reason that I came to Central.”

Heaverlo went on to enjoy a brilliant four-year career, winning 31 games, striking out 321 batters over 302 innings, with a paltry earned run average of 1.79. His CWU uniform (No. 1) was retired in 1978 and he was inducted as a charter member of the CWU Athletic Hall-of-Fame in 1983. However, he’s quick to share the credit for his success with his teammates, many of whom were returning Vietnam-era veterans.

“They knew the importance of team unity—we had tremendous leaders,” Heaverlo said. “The caliber and type of players we had—none of us were on scholarships—we played, basically, for the love of the game. We wanted to go out and compete and represent the university.”  

In the classroom, Heaverlo earned a degree in special education. Despite the fact he never became a classroom teacher, what he learned proved to have transcending value in his efforts as a baseball union representative and, later, as a pitching coach in the California and Oakland organizations.

“The professors taught me a lot about patience and understanding, which were really beneficial,” he continued. “They also understood that there was life outside of the classroom for their students—baseball in my case. But they didn’t give me any breaks just because I was an athlete. They might have even pushed me a little harder. I’ve never forgotten them.”  

A continuing connection with his alma mater is something Heaverlo hopes is a value shared by other former CWU student-athletes.

“I don’t care what sport it is, anyone who has had an opportunity to wear a Wildcat uniform should never forget that experience,” he said. “Hopefully, they’ll get into a position where they can give back, as well.”

Two of Heaverlo’s three sons, Jesse and Kyle, are also CWU alumni, as is his significant other, Peggy Basler.

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