Hendrik “Hank” Grenda

Hendrik “Hank” Grenda

Death 31 Mar 2006 (aged 58)
Burial Cremated, Ashes scattered, Specifically: Ashes scatter at his favorite places around Lake Country, British Columbia
Memorial ID 89243319 · View Source
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Article about Hank's Apple-Cup game in 1968.

It was the morning of Nov. 23, 1968, and after a restless night, the coach, a gruff, old-school man nearing the end of a tumultuous first season on the job, asked his third-string quarterback to take a stroll.

As they walked the greens of a nearby golf course, the coach broke it to his scout team quarterback, a quietly intense Canadian, that he would make his first start of the season later that day against Washington.

If Hank Grenda betrayed any shock at the news, it hardly registered. But then that was Grenda, an even-keeled sort, not a person prone to flashing his emotions.

But his Washington State teammates were certainly surprised.

Though the 6-foot-2 Grenda had the strongest arm on the team, he was a senior who had started just one game. And though both teams limped into Joe Albi Stadium in Spokane that day with five combined victories, this was a game both teams wanted badly to win.

"We went in thinking we had nothing to lose," said Sam Jankovich, WSU's defensive coordinator at the time. "We knew they would not be prepared for Hank. We knew that he gave us the best chance as a passer and we thought the only way we could beat them was by throwing the ball."

In his final collegiate game, Grenda turned in one of the greatest -- and most unexpected -- performances in the rivalry's 107 years. In leading the Cougars to a 24-0 victory, Grenda had a direct hand in every point -- he threw two touchdown passes, had a touchdown run, kicked a field goal and each PAT -- in addition to his duties as the punter.

"He had some kind of day," recalled Gerry Herron, a WSU defensive back and, like Grenda, a native of British Columbia and member of the Beta Theta Pi fraternity. "Hank never acted like he didn't belong out there. I remember how calm and focused he was, and that really rubbed off on the rest of us. We had a feeling from the beginning that we would win."

There hadn't been many confidence-inducing moments that season. Under coach Jim Sweeney, who had replaced the draconian Bert Clark, the Cougars struggled to adjust to Sweeney's run-oriented veer option, as well as his brusque demeanor.

None more than Grenda.

The Burnaby, B.C., native had missed his sophomore season with a broken foot, and Clark never warmed to him, burying him on the depth chart. When Sweeney arrived, Grenda sunk still further, his skill set anchoring him firmly to the bench.

While Sweeney's offense required a mobile quarterback, Grenda was in the classic dropback mold -- he possessed a cannon arm, only to have it paired with lead feet.

"Hank could really throw the ball," said Dave Golinsky, WSU's starting left tackle, who was also from British Columbia and was a fraternity brother of Grenda. "But he wasn't the most fleet of foot. He was a gifted athlete and could have been more successful in the right system. I think for him, his whole time in Pullman seemed to be a wrong-place, wrong-time scenario."

Grenda also possessed a subversive streak. This was an era where coaches were granted iron-fisted autonomy and reigned freely. Many, like Clark and Washington coach Jim Owens, were heavy-handed and dictatorial.

"Hank never kissed their asses," Golinsky said. "You have to remember, this was a time when the coaches acted like Gods. It was about beating your players down, and the guys who survived, that was your team. It was never about developing players. It was about intimidating them. Hank wasn't afraid of them. His sense of right and wrong wouldn't allow him to just go along with everything blindly."

Jerry Henderson and Rich Olson, smaller but quicker players, had alternated at quarterback much of the season. Henderson led the Pac-8 in passing entering the game, but had struggled with consistency, throwing 16 interceptions. The Cougars staggered in with a 2-6-1 record and were winless in conference games.

Grenda led WSU to a touchdown on its first series, capping the drive by calling his own number on a 3-yard score. He added a 26-yard field goal on a dropkick in the second quarter, and the Cougars led 10-0 at halftime.

The second half didn't start as well. Grenda tossed an interception at the start of the third quarter and UW drove deep into WSU territory. The Cougars held on fourth-and-3 at their own 8 and Grenda followed on the next possession by hitting a streaking Freddy Moore for a 64-yard touchdown.

Another defensive stop in the fourth quarter, this time on an interception deep in Huskies territory, gave WSU the ball at the UW 24. On the next play, Grenda threaded a pass through traffic to find Glen Shaw in the end zone to complete the rout.

Grenda's play, combined with a stifling defense that had five interceptions and held the Huskies to 155 total yards, would be more than enough.

"He played a good game," said Al Worley, who was an All-America safety for UW. "I remember that once they got that early momentum, they seemed to play off of that, and it was (Grenda) that set the tone. It was unexpected, but give him all the credit, he played great."

Grenda, who died of a heart attack in March 2006 at 58, played briefly in the Canadian Football League for the B.C. Lions before moving to Kelowna, B.C., to teach. He taught at Kelowna Secondary School and later George Elliot Secondary School in nearby Winfield. He was a popular counselor and coach, and active in the community. At his memorial service, nearly 3,000 attended.

"You could never get him to talk about his athletic accomplishments," said Grenda's widow, Laura, who will be in Seattle this weekend for a family function. "But he never regretted his experiences. He always looked at the people he met in Pullman and the experiences he had as valuable. He was proud to be a Cougar."

*From Seattle Post Intellegencer - November 21, 2007 by Staff Reporter Jon Naito


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  • Created by: Mark McCullough
  • Added: 28 Apr 2012
  • Find a Grave Memorial 89243319
  • Find a Grave, database and images (https://www.findagrave.com : accessed ), memorial page for Hendrik “Hank” Grenda (18 Jun 1947–31 Mar 2006), Find a Grave Memorial no. 89243319, ; Maintained by Mark McCullough (contributor 47371039) Cremated, Ashes scattered, who reports a Ashes scatter at his favorite places around Lake Country, British Columbia.