Frank Fisk could hardly contain his excitement as he recalled being a part of Western Nevada Community College’s first sports team in the early 1970s. Growing up in the small, rural northern Nevada community of Lovelock, it was a great moment in his life. young adult life to make the first basketball team at WNCC.
“It was great fun. There was a local flavor of the kids playing, but not like now where they come from the state to play on a community college team like this,” Frank said.
In fact, Frank said coach Joe Ayarbe used an unusual method to sign players this first season.
“Actually, the reason I came out for the team was when they were making the team, the coach would walk around the halls and ask if anyone wanted to play basketball,” Frank said. “I had a (structured) basketball experience and most of the kids who played for the team weren’t so-called stars of their high school teams. But I never had the ambition to play ball in college; it was the right time and the right situation for me to play.
When Frank visited WNC in March, he did not recognize the campus because when he was a student and basketball player at WNCC in 1972-73, he took most of his college courses at Stead Air Force Base because WNCC did not would not have a campus for a few more years.
“It was like going to high school. The classes were small and you knew almost everyone because you shared a lot of the same classes, ”Frank said.
Frank was a reserve guard on that first Wildcat basketball team coached by Ayarbe, who also served as a director and advisor to the WNCC. Ayarbe secured funding to not only establish the first WNCC sports team, but it was also the first team for an intercollegiate community college in Nevada.
This first team in 1972-73 included a roster of 14 players from Reno, Hug, Wooster, Pershing County, Gabbs, Bishop Manogue, Sparks and Saint Michael high schools. Frank’s teammates were Ron Johnson, Jim Gibson, Ray Rodrigues, Michael Bush, Ruben Martin, David Kress, Mark Donnelly, Ken Smith, Roger Debenham, Fred Anderson, John Rosa, Joe Murry and Robert Kinser. Ayarbe was assisted by Neil Fockler. Frank and his brother-in-law, Ray, were the oldest statesmen on the team at 21 and 22, respectively.
“We were known as the older boys,” Frank said.
Although not having a ‘real’ home field and having to train and play home games at various high schools in Carson City and Reno, the experiences have been very enriching for Frank and his kids. teammates.
Even though the WNCC won the first game they played on November 30, 1972 against the Lassen College Cougars at Carson High School, Frank said there was a bigger win this first season: beating Team Reno. University of Nevada JV. It came at a time when the NCAA had just changed its eligibility rule, allowing freshmen on its varsity teams, but coaches could refrain from using their freshmen. The other highlight of his debut season on hardwood was a two-game Northern Nevada Community College sweeping streak, which included a couple of former Pershing County High School classmates.
The Wildcats have primarily played a schedule against Golden Valley Conference teams from northern California. Ayarbe, who died in 2013, led the Wildcats to a 44-50 record in four years and went on to become the college’s athletic director and golf coach.
As a new team, Frank said the Wildcats fan base is reminiscent of what he experienced in Lovelock.
“The support was like in high school,” he says. “Having no home field, we played Wooster High, Reno High, Hug High, and a few people showed up. We had a core of people there, but I think it was mostly relatives and friends of gamers.
The Wildcats eventually became a very competitive team in the Golden Valley Conference, winning 12 of 26 games in the 1973-74 and 74-75 seasons before posting a 15-9 record in 1975-76.
Frank did not go out for the team in his sophomore year at WNCC due to his commitments to family and work.
“I could have gone out and been a part of the squad, but I had to devote most of my time to home life and I wasn’t much of a star player, so to speak,” Frank said. . “The reason I went out and played was that I enjoyed playing and being physically active. Of all my teammates, I had the highest GPA (3.5), and that’s what the coach was the happiest for. “
Besides his education, Frank fulfilled other obligations. He was married to Anita, now his wife for 52 years, and they had a baby girl. Frank also helped his father and brothers with the family sand and gravel business in Wadsworth and served in the Army National Guard from 1971 to 1977. Frank continued his career in mining, working at Battle Mountain Gold, Barrick and Coeur Rochester. Anita became the Nevada Teacher of the Year, served as Principal of Pershing County High School and Pershing County Middle School, coached basketball and volleyball, and became her first athletic director. high school.
“He never saw me because I was so busy,” Anita said.
As WNC celebrates its 50th anniversary this year, Frank can be proud of his place in college history.