First Family of Sports Award-Detail

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First Family of Sports Award-Detail
First Family of Sports Award-Detail

The Beauchene Family
Fife High School

    The Beauchene Family
    By Todd Milles

    No creature, dead or alive, could corroborate the Beauchenes’ legendary tales of athleticism better than an agitated outdoor pet.
    The Beauchenes – father, Paul; mother, Janice; and daughters, Angie, Suzanne, Renee and Lisa – lived on five acres of property up the hill from Milton. They had a pasture full of horses, cows, goats, chickens – and one powerful, ornery bull.
    “We had to go through the field to get to our friends’ house,” Suzanne said. “We had to look around to see where that bull was. We had to be careful.”
    Many times, that bull spotted the girls in plain view, and took off after them.
    Never, did it catch them.
    They were too quick, too robust – too keen in their instincts.
    The Beauchenes are this year’s “First Family of Sports,” selected by the Tacoma Athletic Commission.
    Paul was a multiple-sport standout at Marquette High School in Yakima, and was part of that school’s sweep in 1964-65 – an undefeated run to the state football championship, and an unblemished ride to the state boy’s basketball crown.
    A graduate of Shadle Park High School in Spokane, Janice was a member of the school’s prestigious Hi-Lassie march unit that filled halftime shows and weekend parades throughout the area.
    Of course, folks around here should be familiar with all the serves, spikes and digs made by the four daughters, who played for legendary Fife High School girls volleyball coach Jan Kirk.
    All were all-state performers who were part of Kirk’s four state championship squads (1992, 1995, 1996, 1999). All of them went on to play in college.
    “The Beauchene girls were a huge part of the Fife volleyball program in the 1990s,” Kirk said. “Angie was respected. Renee was looked to up to. Suzanne was loved. And Lisa was admired.
    “I enjoyed coaching all of the girls, and was thankful for the support of Paul and Jan Beauchene.”
    Anybody who has seen a Beauchene in action, or walked next to one of them, it is easy to spot the most visible common denominator – height. All stand near or exceed 6 feet tall.
    “Most of that height comes from my wife’s side,” Paul said.
    At 6-4, Paul was no slouch at Marquette, a small all-boys Jesuit school. But he did not stand out as much as you’d think.
    “In football, I played both ways, mostly at defensive end and offensive (tackle),” Paul said. “The incredible part of it was that I was the smallest guy.”
    In the fall of 1964, Marquette went 9-0 to win the Class A title, which in those days was awarded through a poll.
    A few months later, the school won all 26 games, and captured the ‘A’ basketball championship at UPS’s Memorial Fieldhouse in Tacoma. Paul was an all-state post player on that team.
    Up the road northeast a couple hundred miles, sports options for girls in the 1960s at Shadle Park were limited. But the march team was very popular.
    “It was a big deal to try out for the ‘Hi-Lassies,’” Janice said. “I did that as a junior. Friends of mine were doing it.”
    One-hundred girls were selected by a judging panel out of thousands who auditioned. Janice was one of them, performing “fancy patterns on the football field” at high school stadiums, even at Eastern Washington University.
    After Paul served a stint in the U.S. Coast Guard, playing in adult basketball leagues throughout Alaska, he returned to Yakima Valley Community College where he met Janice, who was part of the school’s applied science in nursing program.
    The two wed in 1972, and moved to Tacoma – both working at Tacoma General Hospital where Janice was a nurse, and Paul was the facilities superintendent.
    As their family grew, their priorities shifted to coaching youth basketball and track and field.
    In 1989, Kirk and her son, Kelly, the volleyball coach at Jefferson High School, were interested in starting up a club volleyball program in the area – Puget Sound Volleyball. They asked the Beauchenes to become charter members.
    “Initially, (the Kirks’) interest was in the girls’ height,” Paul said. “After that, it became more about talent.”
    Over the next decade, the Beauchenes traveled all around the West Region in their motor home for club volleyball tournaments in Oregon and California, and cross country meets with the Fife/Milton Streakers in Nevada and British Columbia.
    “I literally kept a calendar on the wall to write things on … for every sport,” Janice said. “Literally, almost every square on that calendar was full with something.”
    Angie (Wilson) Beauchene set the standard for her sisters. She grew up playing volleyball, basketball, track and field, gymnastics, swimming and cross country.
    By the time she was a junior at Fife High School in 1992-93, she was one of the top two-sport athletes in the state. She led the Trojans to their first Class 2A volleyball crown, defeating Kennedy Catholic in the finals.
    And a few months later, Fife battled Prairie in the state girls basketball title game, falling 46-44. Beauchene was voted to the all-tournament team.
    “Quickness and speed – she just kind of had it,” Paul said. “It came to her early.”
    Angie was an all-state performer in volleyball as a senior, and received a full-ride scholarship to play at Lewis-Clark State College in Idaho, helping the university to a pair of NAIA national-tournament berths. She also played one season of women’s basketball.
    “I remember her always doing what was asked of her, and she never complained about it,” Suzanne said. “And she was always happy playing sports. There is a lot of stress in sports sometimes, and you could not see it in her.”
    Predictably, Suzanne (Heiberg) Beauchene tried to imitate her older sister, and followed suit at Fife by playing basketball and volleyball – and also one season of girls golf.
    As an all-state performing senior in 1995-96, she guided the Trojans to another Class 2A volleyball championship. Again, Fife defeated Kennedy Catholic for the title.
    Suzanne accepted a scholarship offer to play volleyball at Seattle Pacific University, but eventually transferred to Pacific Lutheran University where she enrolled in the nursing program. That is where she finished her career, and was voted an all-Northwest Conference first teamer.
    And she was about to have a younger sister join her at PLU.
    But first, Renee (Lunt) Beauchene had her own business to take care of at Fife. As a junior in 1996, she was part of the Trojans’ third state volleyball championship squad, this time teaming up with her younger sister, Lisa, to beat Selah for the crown.
    Because of his daughter’s low-key nature, Paul said she often displayed “silent talent” in sports, which also including basketball and running the 300-meter hurdles in track and field.
    Also an all-state volleyball performer, Renee eventually played at PLU for three seasons, enjoying a run in the 1999 NCAA Division III tournament.
    And finally, the final sister came through – Lisa (Lawson) Beauchene.
    “She was probably our best athlete,” Paul said.
    Lisa was a natural at everything, winning her first 50-yard dash at an Oregon indoor meet as a 9-year-old. She eventually threw the javelin and the discus in high school.
    But much like her other siblings, volleyball was her true love.
    But unlike her other sisters, she starred at a different position – setter.
    While at Fife from 1996-2000, the Trojans won three Pierce County League volleyball titles, four West Central District championships – and two state crowns in 1996 and 1999.
    Lisa also went off to the highest-profile volleyball program – Sacramento State where she was a three-time Big Sky selection, including the player of the year in 2003.
    Three years later, she was inducted into the Tacoma-Pierce County Sports Hall of Fame for her illustrious playing career. She has also been a longtime college assistant coach at New Mexico.
    “I had the biggest advantage, because I was a spectator to my sisters for so many years,” Lisa said. “Whether I was the best athlete, that is debatable.”
    And with that, she laughed.
    For the Beauchenes, athletics went beyond individual glory. They were always more concerned about the collective cause.
    And they did everything together, as a close-knit family.
    “The thing I am most proud of with my daughters is that they are good people,” Janice said. “They’ve accomplished more in their lives than just what they set out to do. Whatever their goals were, they just seemed to attain them.”
    First Family of Sports Award-Detail
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