Nov. 30, 2000
By Mike Kreiger
Meet Washington State redshirt-senior Paul Mencke, the man who can do it all.
Mencke is a wide receiver for the Washington State football team. He plays on special teams and is the holder on field goals and extra-point attempts. He has also played quarterback for the Cougars, and with the injury to starter Jason Gesser during the Oregon game, Mencke is once again taking snaps in practice. Don't forget the fact that Mencke was also a member of the WSU men's basketball team last season under first-year head coach Paul Graham. Despite playing several different roles, Mencke keeps it all under control.
"The roles all feed off each other," Mencke said. "The role of quarterback requires you to know the whole offense and what everybody is doing. That helped me move to wide receiver. As a receiver, it's so simple because instead of learning what all five receivers are doing, I just have to know what I'm doing. I think it also helps the quarterback out a little bit to have two quarterbacks on the field. We'll look at each other and nod our head if we should run this play or audible out of it."
Growing up, Mencke's favorite sport was basketball. He was the co-MVP of the Greater Spokane League in basketball while leading the league in scoring. Last year he decided to give his basketball dreams another try.
"Basketball was, and still is my favorite sport," Mencke said. "Then in my senior year, the coaches told me I had a chance to play Division I in football. I got the chance to play football at a Pac-10 school, and I wanted to take advantage of that opportunity. I had some good years in basketball in high school, so I thought I'd try out for the WSU team. It went really well last year."
Well is an understatement. The basketball season went great for Mencke. He played in all but one Pac-10 game for the Cougars. Mencke, a WSU fan-favorite, usually gets a loud ovation whenever he steps onto the field/court.
"It's something that you can't explain," Mencke said with a huge smile. "It was cool because I've had a lot of great times and some down times. It's nice to know that you still have the fans' support. It makes you feel really good when you go in the game and hear a big uproar. I'm thankful that people know I've been through a lot and they still support me."
Not only is Mencke a two-sport athlete for the Cougars, but he is also an excellent student. Mencke was member of National Honor Society with a 3.55 GPA at Lewis and Clark High School in Spokane. Last season, after playing for both the football and basketball teams, Mencke was picked to the Pacific-10 Conference all-academic team for both sports. Thanks to his parents, Dan and Lue, Mencke has always placed an emphasis on academics.
"I grew up with my parents instilling the attitude that school is a big thing," Mencke said. "I always like to take advantage of the situation. With a free education, I'm trying to get two degrees. (elementary education and history in secondary education.) After this year, I'm going to try to work on my masters. I want to get it out of the way while I'm in school."
Living in Eastern Washington, Mencke has always been a true Cougar.
"Every since I moved to Spokane, I've been a Cougar fan," Mencke said proudly. "When you live in Washington, you have to choose Cougars or Huskies. I picked the Cougars. Both of my sisters (Kerri and Kammi) went here. My dad would bring us down to a few games every year. When the Cougars were recruiting me, this is where I wanted to go."
Mencke is unsure if he is going to play basketball this season for the Cougars.
"I've applied for student teaching, and I haven't really figured out where I'm doing it," Mencke said. "I've applied for several places, so now I'm just waiting to get the letter in the mail telling me where they've placed me. If it's in Spokane, I won't be able to play basketball. If it's here in Pullman or the surrounding area, then I'll play basketball."
Mencke has ideas what he wants to do after he graduates, but he is not sure where he wants to go yet.
"I'm open to anything," Mencke said. "I just want to try new things. I will be able to teach kindergarten through high school. I also want to coach high school basketball and football. Other job opportunities will open up when I have my college degree. Whatever comes about, I'll be happy to go. I just want to get out there and see what the world is all about."
As a student-athlete who has seen college sports from many different perspectives, Mencke is a true Renaissance Man. He is a man of many talents, both in academics and athletics, and these talents will help Mencke when he decides where the road of life will lead him.