Jon Kitna Wildcat Classic Golf Tournament readies for 20th anniversary


Isaac Hinson, Staff Reporter

As the school year begins to wrap up, the CWU community looks forward to summer and its festivities. July 7 marks the beginning of the annual Kitna Wildcat Classic Golf Tournament, celebrating its 20th year running this summer. 

The tournament, named after CWU alumnus and former NFL quarterback Jon Kitna, is held every summer in Cle Elum. Kitna played 14 seasons in the NFL, including five seasons for the Seattle Seahawks. Kitna also won the NFL Comeback Player of the Year award for the Cincinnati Bengals in 2003. 

Athletics Director Dennis Francois said the golf tournament is a great way for the CWU community to come together every year. 

“For a lot of our alumni and donors, it’s kind of their annual get-together, their homecoming,” Francois said. “It’s a great opportunity to interact with our staff, student athletes and coaches … It’s a great event that really brings our Wildcat family together.”

The tournament is held on the Thursday after Independence Day every year and takes place at the Suncadia Resort in Cle Elum. This year, Francois reserved the Rope Rider golf course and the Prospector golf course in anticipation of a big outcome of participants. 

“All in all, we’re expecting about 250 plus golfers this year,” Francois said. “We used to be able to reserve both courses for the afternoon. The numbers have gone up … They’re just overwhelming, they didn’t want us taking the entire afternoon.

Francois said tee times are 8:30 a.m. at the Rope Rider and 1:30 p.m. at the Prospector.

It’s about more than old friends getting together for Francois though. The tournament also serves as a fundraiser for CWU athletics, giving CWU alumni an opportunity to support current Wildcat student-athletes in their endeavors. 

“It’s also for a great cause,” Francois said. “The tournament helps us to fund our student athletes scholarships. We have a lot of great sponsors and donors, so we’re hoping to net close to $60,000 this year.”

Francois has been a part of the tournament for nine years now, and with those years comes a plethora of memories. When asked about his favorite memories over the years, Francois quickly got sentimental. 

“Anytime we get old teammates together, it’s great getting to see them interact,” Francois said. “Every year they pick up right where they left off the year before … That’s what this is all about. Guys that are 70-plus-years-old are out there winging it getting together with their buddies every year. And then there are guys who are in their 50s and younger that are picking up that tradition. Even younger alums in their 30s … It’s great to see them interact and know they’re going to come out.”