BELLINGHAM, Wash. – Four former student-athletes, all of whom played huge roles for the Vikings during their highly successful decade of 2000 to 2009, make up the Class of 2019 inductees into the Western Washington University Athletics Hall of Fame.
The incoming quartet includes men’s soccer goalkeeper Ben Dragavon, a four-time all-conference selection.
“We are so proud to induct these four outstanding Vikings into our hall of fame,” said WWU Director of Athletics Steve Card.
The induction ceremony, which is part of WWU Alumni Weekend, takes place on Saturday, May 18 (1 p.m.), on WECU Court at Carver Gym. Admission to the event is free of charge and parking during alumni weekend is free on campus.
Ben Dragavon, Viking Great
Ben Dragavon was a four-time Great Northwest Athletic Conference all-star as a goalkeeper during his career at Western from 2002 to 2005, twice being a first-team selection. The GNAC Freshman of the Year in 2002, he started and earned letters in each of those four seasons.
Dragavon, who set numerous WWU game and season records, completed his Viking career as the program leader in shutouts with 18 and third in goals against average at 1.38. He graduated from Western in 2007 with a bachelor’s degree in exercise science.
“Ben was the right player at the right time for our program,” said his WWU coach Travis Connell. “He was his best when faced with a challenge. Throughout his career, he had a knack for rising to the occasion. In his first season, he earned a starting spot and was the conference freshman of the year. As his career developed he became a leader who pulled his teammates together and inspired them to be their best with his work ethic in training and clutch performances in big games.”
As a freshman in 2002 at WWU, Dragavon propelled the Vikings to a 15-4-1 record, their best in 12 years, and first place in the GNAC with a perfect 4-0-0 record, their first league title in 14 seasons. He had a 0.83 GAA and seven shutouts.
As a junior in 2004, Dragavon had a 0.90 GAA and six shutouts for the 13-7-0 Vikings.
Dragavon went on to play professional soccer for the Seattle Sounders from 2005-2008, seeing action in four games in 2007 as they won the United Soccer League First Division championship and the USL First Division Commissioner’s Cup.
In 2009, the Sounders moved up to Major League Soccer (MLS) status and Dragavon played for them that year as a member of the MLS-Wide Reserve Goalkeeper Pool.
Early that season, Dragavon was called up by Seattle to provide back-up for starter Kasey Keller while regular reserve keeper Chris Eylander was out injured. Dragavon made his MLS debut for Seattle on April 11, 2009, in a game against the Kansas City Wizards, when Keller was sent off for handling outside the penalty area.
In 2010, Dragavon signed on with the USL Austin Aztecs, but a preseason injury ended his playing career.
Dragavon competed for the Skagit Rapids of the Pacific Coast Soccer League from 2002 to 2004, being named a league all-star in both 2003 and 2004. During the winter of 2007-08, he played indoor soccer with the Seattle Wolves FC of the Premier Arena Soccer League. Dragavon also competed in indoor soccer with the Tacoma Stars and Seattle Wolves of the PASL.
Following his playing career, Dragavon was an assistant coach for the Seattle Sounders FC U-23 team, Sounders 2 and Sounders FC Academy; the U.S. Women’s National Team (2016 to 2017), and the WWU men’s and women’s squads in 2012. He also was a Goalkeeper and strength conditioning coach for the Seattle Reign professional women’s team from 2013 to 2016 and full-time assistant from 2017 to 2018, working with Hope Solo, goalkeeper of the U.S. Women’s National Team that won the World Cup and Olympic Gold.
In addition, Dragavon was a biomechanics consultant for professional athletes in Major League Baseball, National Football League, Major League Soccer, U.S. Soccer, U.S. Skiing, U.S. Olympians, Women’s National Basketball Association and National Women’s Soccer League.
Dragavon was a 2018 inductee into the Monroe (Wash.) High School Athletic Hall of Fame. In 2001, he helped the Bearcats win district and state titles, the first state championship for any MHS sport since 1953. During that run, Dragavon won three playoff matches in shootouts after going into overtime. During that same year, he led his Premier Club Team, the Cascade Avalanche, to a state championship by winning shootouts in both the semi-final and title matches. His club team went on to represent the State of Washington in the Region 6 Championship at Albuquerque, New Mexico.
Currently, the 35-year-old Dragavon operates a private goalkeeper’s academy, working with professional and collegiate goalkeepers. At the athletic training institute in Bellevue, he works with professional sports teams and athletes from all over the world. Also keeping him busy is his continued consultant work with the Seattle Sounders.
“I am so thankful for my time at Western,” said Dragavon. “The relationships cultivated as a member of the men’s soccer team have helped shape my life in more ways than I could have imagined. Some of my teammates have become lifelong friends, some have become business associates, and others have maintained relationships in various ways. It really became a family network that still exists and thrives to this day. It is an absolute credit to the institution and the culture created by Coach Connell and Coach (Greg) Brisbon.”
WWU photos from school archives.