HERMISTON — An American flag hung low over the home dugout on the third base
line Friday. Some members of the Hermiston Bulldog softball team stretched while others played catch, warming up for their first game of the 2012 season with Post Falls — their first game without Tom Bequette.
Bequette, the head coach in his second stop with the Hermiston girls, passed away on Sunday just days before his team was set to open their season. The news left his team in limbo, shocked.
“It’s been a tough week because Tom was, personally for me, he was like a brother,” said Saul Rodriguez, the interim head coach for Hermiston and an assistant under Bequette. “We were really close, coaching a long time and coaching my kid since she was nine-years old.”
Like the flag, ribbons tying back players’ hair swayed gently with the afternoon breeze. On the thin lavender material, each was decorated with a one-word Bequette catch phrase.
“Every time we were up to bat, especially in a huge situation, he’d be like ‘Ah, here’s my stud-ete, here we go!’ ” senior Maloree Moss remembered. “It just gave you that confidence. We made these ribbons kind of as a reminder, just play like a stud-ete. And I feel like we did (Friday).”
In the end, the best way to honor Bequette was to move on and just play, pitcher Paige Long said. They should be playing their best for themselves, though, not for him and not let his passing distract them from solid softball.
“Throughout the practices we just had to stay strong and we knew what he always taught with us,” Long said. “And like he always said, he’s always watching so you have to make sure you’re on your game.”
A memorial service for Tom Bequette with military honors will be held today at 3 p.m. at Burns Mortuary Chapel in Hermiston. Contributions may be made in the coach’s memory to the Hermiston High School Softball program.