With help from coaches, fans, media and local sports historians, SBLive has put together its lists of the best athletes — male and female — to emerge from every county in the state of Washington. We looked back as far as the turn of the 20th century, and we examined the totality of each athletes’ career, not only what they did in high school.
As comprehensive as our lists are, we also want to hear your opinions. We have included polls where you can vote for the best male and female athletes by county. You can also leave your comments below or hit us up on Twitter @sblivewa.
From Jeanne (Eggart) Helfer to Seville (Broussard) Hering, Walla Walla County has produced several outstanding female athletes. Take a look at SBLive’s list of the top female athletes to ever come out of Walla Walla County and cast your vote in the poll.
(The list is in alphabetical order.)
BEST FEMALE ATHLETES IN WALLA WALLA COUNTY HISTORY
JEANNE (EGGART) HELFER
High School: Walla Walla (class of 1977)
Sports: Basketball, track and field, volleyball, tennis
Notable Stats: In May, Helfer – WSU’s all-time leading basketball scorer for 38 years – became the 19th Cougars athlete (and second woman) to be inducted into the Pac-12 Hall of Honor for career achievement in athletics.
Even at the dawn of Title IX, Helfer was already an established sports hero in Walla Walla.
People would come and watch her in basketball, which landed her the first scholarship for a female athlete at WSU. They flocked to see her throw the javelin (and win her only state title). And in volleyball – her No. 3 sport – she wasn’t too shabby, either, as a two-time league MVP.
In basketball, she could do it all – shoot, rebound and pass. Twice, her Blue Devils’ teams were state runners-up, and finished with a 56-6 record in three seasons. She left the program with a 25.1-point scoring average, and was a 1977 high school All-American.
At WSU, Helfer continued to be one of the best scorers in college, finishing her career (1977-82) with 1,967 points, which was a school record until last season. She also set the school record in the javelin (178-3) in 1978, and two years later, placed fourth in the 1980 U.S. Olympic Trials.
After becoming a successful basketball and track and field coach at Mead High School and Mount Spokane High School, Helfer was inducted into the WIAA hall of fame in 2010.
(Jeanne Eggart Helfer feature photo from The Spokesman-Review.)
SEVILLE (BROUSSARD) HERING
High School: Walla Walla (class of 1994)
Sports: Track and field
Notable Stats: Hering owned both Class 4A state-meet girls hurdles records for long stretches – for 21 years in the 100-meter hurdles (14.15, broken by Skyline’s Brandi Hughes in 2015 at 14.10) and for 15 years in the 300 hurdles (42.17, broken by Emerald Ridge’s Kayla Stueckle in 2009 at 42.13).
If you made a list of the best girls hurdlers to ever come out of the state of Washington, Hering would be on that short list.
She was that dominant.
Known for her relentless work ethic and thirst to be perfect technically, Hering won seven WIAA state individual track and field titles while in high school (1991-94) before going on to become an All-American performer at Eastern Washington University.
After recovering from a serious knee injury, Hering won five Big Sky Conference championships, set six EWU records (four in the hurdles races) and earned a spot in the 2000 Olympic Trials.
Hering now lives on a farm in Gig Harbor with her husband, Todd, who was a former standout sprinter at Pullman High School.
Alyson Ambler, Walla Walla (softball) – Led the Blue Devils to the 4A title in 2011, and was Gatorade state player of the year and high school All-American before becoming a two-way standout at UConn.
Mikayla Ferenz, Walla Walla (basketball, soccer) – Former all-state guard was unanimous Big Sky player of the year at Idaho (22.5 ppg) in 2019. She is now playing professionally in Luxembourg.
Jamie (Weisner) Scott, Walla Walla (basketball, track and field, volleyball) – Pac-12 women’s basketball player of the year (and WNBA draftee) would have been higher on list had she not grown up in other counties.