Submitted by Saint Martin’s University
This year marks the 25th anniversary of the Hall of Fame/Hall of Honor ceremony at Saint Martin’s University. On Friday, February 13, SMU is hosting a special celebration to welcome back everyone who has ever been inducted into the Hall of Fame/Hall of Honor. Please come join us starting at 6 p.m. in Marcus Pavilion.
Vincent Strojan, a four-year varsity letterman on the basketball team under Head Coach Jerry Vermillion, is among the guests who are planning to attend.
“I am really honored to be able to come back,” said Strojan. “Jim Sims put an incredible amount of work into it back when I was being inducted. He was in charge of all that and did an incredible amount of research and found old records pertaining to a lot of us.”
“I am really excited to see a lot of the guys that I haven’t seen in a long time,” added Strojan. “And I think it is a tribute to Saint Martin’s that we can put this together and get a lot of past student athletes and contributors back on campus for a wonderful weekend and, hopefully, we will see a lot of old alums, and I know we will.”
Strojan’s time here at Saint Martin’s dates back to 1964, when the Saints were the Rangers. He said he came to Saint Martin’s for the opportunity to play basketball for Vermillion. He also came because his older brother, Steve, was a student, here. Steve and Vince played two seasons together, from 1964-1966.
The campus of Saint Martin’s looked very different during the ’60s. Strojan remembers it was an all-male school and 98 percent of the professors were monks living at Saint Martin’s. He believes there were about five female teachers at that time.
In addition, Baran Hall was the only residence hall on campus. The only other place to live was in quonset huts Saint Martin’s picked up from Fort Lewis after World War II. It wasn’t until Strojan’s sophomore or junior year that Barton Hall was built.
At that time, the Saint Martin’s basketball teams didn’t play their home games in the pavilion. They practiced in downtown Olympia at the Armory and played their games at Olympia High School, Tumwater High School and North Thurston High School. It wasn’t until Strojan’s junior year, when the Rangers changed their team name to the Saints, that they were playing in the gym after the roof was finished.
When asked about the schedule he played at Saint Martin’s, Strojan said, “We were playing a Division I schedule. We were playing Gonzaga, Loyola and Pepperdine. We played all the major Catholic schools on the west side. We did quite well.”
“We built a tremendous program and my last two years at SMU, — we were the best college team in the state,” added Strojan. “And that includes the University of Washington, WAZZU and Gonzaga. We had a high-power thing going and it was a lot of fun being a part of growing that.”
Strojan was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1992, where he led the 1967-68 team that set three college scoring records and won 23 games. Strojan scored 600 points during the 1967-68 season and set a Saint Martin’s career-scoring record with 1,736 points, breaking the previous record of 1,235 points.
Strojan’s coach, Vermillion, was inducted into the 1991 Hall of Fame after winning 94 games at Saint Martin’s. Under his leadership from 1964-70, the Saints won 70 percent of their games.
After Strojan’s time at Saint Martin’s, he received a tryout with the Seattle SuperSonics. The SuperSonics were in their second year of existence but Strojan was the last man cut from the roster. “I don’t really know what direction my life would have gone if I made the NBA,” he said.
Instead, Strojan went to work for Boise Cascade, a paper company in Oregon. Strojan married his wife, Sandy, during his senior year and the company moved them to Texas for about 12 years. After he continued to climb the corporate ladder, they returned to Sandy’s homestead in Fife. Sandy was an only child and they took over the raspberry and cattle farm, and raised four boys. “We had two biological boys and two boys we adopted,” said Strojan. During the time they were farming, they also started a paper company, a dairy business and had a variety of other businesses. They also became foster parents. “Sandy wanted to continue to nurture infants that were in need or at risk,” he said. “So we did that for about 17 years and we had almost 16 infants come through our home during that period.”
They adopted Michael and their youngest, Freddy. Actually, Saint Martin’s has a strong tradition within the Strojan family. Not only did Steven and Vincent graduate from SMU – Vincent’s brother Howard, oldest son Dan and his third oldest boy Mike are all graduates of Saint Martin’s.
After 17 years of being foster parents, the Strojan family turned their attention to the grandkids and, as of December 31, 2014, Vincent Strojan has officially retired.
When Strojan was asked about his fondest memory at Saint Martin’s, he said, “I have to go back to when I was 18. I think the thing that stuck with me the most was the influence of the monastic community. It was so powerful for me and gave me so much direction throughout my time.”