More than 50 years after Governor Jay Inslee’s Ingraham Rams team capped an undefeated season with a state basketball title, the governor is using his former coach Walt Milroy as an example of why the public should exercise extreme caution amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Inslee is still close with Milroy, who crossed the century mark last month, but is healthy and sharp as ever. That’s exactly why he’s urging the public — especially those over 60 or people with underlying health issues to stay inside.

“A couple hours ago, I called my old basketball coach Walt Milroy,” Inslee said in his update on the state’s updated coronavirus restrictions and actions Wednesday. “He’s 100 years of age, and he’s in great health, totally with it, as knowledgeable about what’s was going on in the world as he was when he was our coach.” It was just really fun talking to him, and I want to keep that for years. If we can all protect him and his generation — and frankly my generation — by reducing social exposure, that’s going to be a really good thing.”

While COVID-19 poses a serious health risk to most Americans, data indicates people over the age of 65 are at much higher risk. 80% of the deaths from COVID-19 in the United States have been among people 65 and older, according to a report from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention.

“We want to keep them around for years to enjoy them,” Inslee said. “It’s just not a time for people over 60 to go out and expose themselves to unnecessary risk.”

Inslee took a moment to reflect on his hoops career with Milroy, and said after talking to his former coach, he went back to look up some old highlights. Although the footage wasn’t quite what Inslee remembered of his play.


“I was disturbed while talking to coach, I saw someone put a clip up of my basketball team in 1969, showed a guy shooting over top of me,” he joked. “In my recollection I was a leaper blocking right and left.”

Milroy, who has lived through the Great Depression, World War II, and the Korean and Vietnam wars has seen a lot. He told Inslee this has been a particularly challenging time and that isolating has been hard, but believes we’ll get through it.

“His perspective is that he would rather not be isolated in his home right now, but he wants to keep living, so he’s gonna do that,” Inslee said. “I wanna to keep my old coach going.”