The Director’s Awards recognize outstanding individuals or teams in the realm of Alaskan sports. Recipients are selected by the Alaska Sports Hall of Fame board of directors and are honored at the annual induction ceremony.
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Click here to nominate a candidate for consideration by the Directors’ Awards committee in any or all of the categories. All entries will be reviewed by the committee during the selection process.
Pride of Alaska Award
For Consistent Excellence in Athletic Competition – For an athlete or athletes, team or coach who have not only excelled in sports in the past year or recent years, but have done so with integrity and sportsmanship and been a positive role model.
University of Alaska Anchorage Women’s Basketball Team
Over the past five years under Coach Tim Moser, the UAA Women have posted a record of 160 wins and 31 losses. During this period the team has a 9-1 record against D-1 teams. All five years they have advanced at least to the 2nd round of the NCAA tourney and they have won four Great Alaska Shootout titles against D-1 teams, all while exhibiting excellence in Integrity, Sportsmanship and Scholarship.
Nunaka Valley Girls Softball Team
With a mantra of “unfinished business” the Nunaka Valley Girls Softball Team won the first-ever World Series crown by an Alaska team of any age group or gender. After finishing fifth in the 2011 World Series, many of the 12 to 14 year old players returned to claim the world championship with a 6-2 win over a powerhouse team from Victoria, British Columbia. The close-knit group used strong pitching and scrappy defense to win the international tournament and become celebrities in Alaska.
Kikkan Randall continued to make American cross country skiing history. A four-time Olympian, in 2013 she joined Jessie Diggins to win the team sprint and become America’s first Nordic skiing world champions. In another milestone, Randall seized the first discipline title by topping the overall World Cup sprint standings in 2012, a feat she repeated the next year. In 2013, she was also third in the overall World Cup standings, the best ever by a U.S. woman. Randall tacked on two more World Cup wins and two second-place finishes early in the 2013-14 season.
This tiny titan of a runner turned 2014 into one of the most dominating seasons in Alaska running history. Allie Ostrander shattered state records in the 1,600 and 3,200 meters on the track and in cross country won her third straight state championship. In December the Kenai High School standout won a national championship at the Nike Cross Nationals in Portland, Ore. Wait, there’s more. The 5-foot-1 Ostrander made history at Mount Marathon in Seward when she became the first girl to beat the boys for the junior title en route to setting a girls record and winning her sixth straight girls title. A senior, Allie maintains a 4.0 GPA and has helped establish a running series in Kenai.
Allie Ostrander/UAA Women’s Basketball Team (co-winners)
The Soldotna native had a historic year, bettering a 25-year-old record on Mount Marathon in her senior women’s race debut (while placing second); winning the junior women’s title at the World Mountain Running Championships in Wales, UK; and placing second, as a Boise State University freshman, at the 2015 Division I national cross country championships. Under coach Ryan McCarthy, the Seawolves registered a combined 67-4 record over the 2014-15 and 2015-16 seasons and held the NCAA Division II No. 1 ranking through part of that time. They concluded the 2015-2016 as the NCAA Division II national runner-up after losing a hard-fought title game. Their frenetic style of play — and the victories — energized the city of Anchorage and drew large enthusiastic crowds to home games.
The Alaska Aces
Since joining the ECHL in 2003 the Alaska Aces hockey team has had unprecedented success and now owns the highest winning percentage in league history. In 2006 the Aces won their first ever Kelly Cup and brought home the first ever professional championship to the state of Alaska. In 2011 the club earned their second title and has continued its outstanding play into 2012, all while continuing to be active in the community.
Mario Chalmers became the first Alaskan to win an NBA Championship in 2012 and became a member of a select group of basketball players that has won a State, NCAA Division I and NBA championship. As a starter for the Miami Heat, Chalmers was a steady contributor throughout the season but saved his biggest moments for the biggest games, including the pivotal Game 4 of the Finals when Chalmers scored 25 points and sealed the game with a last-minute basket. Chalmers competed in the 3-point shooting contest at the 2012 NBA All-Star Game and tied a club record with 10 threes in one game in January, 2013.
Trevor Dunbar and Eric Strabel (co-winners)
The duo set new standards for Alaska running over the past few years, one on the track, one off. In 2013 Eric Strabel broke the revered 32-year-old record at the Mount Marathon Race. Over the past five years the Palmer native won nearly every trail and mountain race in the state and established several course records. In 2013 Kodiak’s Trevor Dunbar became the first Alaskan to run a sub 4-minute mile. The feat came five years after he garnered national attention as a high-schooler by running a 9:01 3,200-meter race in snow. He then continued with an All-American career at the University of Portland and University of Oregon and made the Finals at the 2012 U.S. Olympic Trials in the 5,000 meters
As director of the Alaska Pacific University nordic ski program, Erik Flora has done more than just develop Olympians. He has helped build the gold standard for American Nordic skiing and bring American skiers to new levels of international success. Under his guidance, APU skier Kikkan Randall became the first American woman to win a World Cup Gold Medal. In 2014, four of the American skiers who competed at the Winter Games in Sochi came from APU. In 2013, he was named National Coach of the Year by the U.S. Olympic Committee. The award recognized Flora for his role in developing some of the country’s top racers, not only Randall but several others who have won national championships and earned medals in international competitions.
Dallas Seavey/Soldotna High School Football Team (co-winners)
Dallas Seavey won his fourth Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race in five years in 2016, while registering a record time. Seavey became the youngest Iditarod winner ever in 2012 and since then has established himself as the face of the next generation of competitive sled dog racers. He has also become recognizable across the United States for his role in the reality show Ultimate Survival Alaska. In 2015, the Stars won their fourth straight medium-school football championship and ran their state-record winning streak to 39 games. The Stars’ stretch of dominance has included a record eight state championships since 2006. During that time the team has gone 96-6 while regularly beating the state’s largest schools.
Joe Floyd Award
For Significant and Lasting Contribution to Alaska through Sports – For a person or group of people who have, over a period of years, made a significant and lasting contribution to sports in Alaska. This contribution could be for a particular sport, for multiple sports, for a particular town or area and for participants or spectators. For achievement over multiple years with priority given to more recent years.
Steve Nerland and Don Winchester
Together and individually, Steve Nerland and Don Winchester have, over the past 25 years, made significant contributions to Alaska through sports. Together they were the driving force behind the successful effort to obtain funding to design and build a new sports arena at UAA. Individually they lead numerous efforts including building the Dimond High Football Stadium, upgrading the Mulcahy Baseball Park and developing the South Anchorage Baseball Parks.
Since Don Dennis took over as general manager of the Alaska Goldpanners in 1967 the club has become the most successful team in amateur baseball history. Dennis was also responsible for the development and growth of the entire Alaska Baseball League. Now the team’s chief operating officer, he has faithfully guided the Goldpanners through 50 years of executive operations. Dennis continues to be highly regarded as a mentor and business leader in the Alaskan community and throughout the baseball world.
Dick Mize came to Alaska to serve at Fort Richardson, discovered biathlon and then competed in the 1960 Olympics. He was a longtime local teacher and principal as well as cross-country running and skiing coach at Dimond High School. A pioneer for Nordic skiing and biathlon in Alaska, he helped design and construct local trails such as Kincaid Park and Hillside. A World Masters ski champion, Mize remains involved in the local ski scene, both as a racer and a volunteer, and can still be spotted on his namesake loop at Kincaid.
For the past quarter century as head coach at the University of Alaska Anchorage, Michael Friess has built the men’s and women’s track and field and cross country programs into national collegiate powerhouses and has raised the popularity and visibility of the university. The numbers are staggering under his tutelage – 17 Coach of the Year honors, 12 league titles, 5 NCAA champions, 62 All- Americans. In the classroom, his athletes have earned nearly 200 academic All-Conference awards. If that wasn’t enough, he also directs the Mayor’s Marathon and Crow Pass Crossing.
After a prolific career at UAA in the early 1980s, the two-time, first-team All-American began coaching youth hockey in Anchorage. His Bantam team was the first Alaska squad to win a USA Hockey Tier I national championship. He has coached at Dimond High School since 1991 and accumulated more than 500 wins — nearly twice the number of the second-place coach. He has led his team to four state championships and many of his players have gone on to college and professional hockey careers.
Trajan Langdon Award
For Leadership, Sportsmanship and Inspiration – For a person or group of people who have demonstrated leadership, integrity and sportsmanship during the past year and positively influenced and inspired others to be better sportsmen or sportswomen.
Chugiak High School Football Team
The 2011 Chugiak High Football Team was on the verge of qualifying for the State Championship Playoffs when a school district error was discovered that resulted in a player being declared ineligible. The result was a forfeit of all their games to date and elimination from the possibility of being in the playoffs, a heartbreaking decision for the team. The team brought pride to their community as they embraced the player and presented their case to the school board with Clarity, Dignity and Sportsmanship, eventually losing the appeal.
As a sophomore at West Anchorage High School, Paul Tandy decided to join the wrestling team during the 2011-12 school year despite the challenge of being blind. A 4.0 student in the classroom, Tandy progressed quickly from novice to a respected competitor, ultimately winning five matches during his first season. He earned the respect and admiration of his teammates for his work ethic, positive attitude and courage.
Marko Cheseto inspired many through his record-setting performances as a runner for the University of Alaska Anchorage. But the Kenyan inspired even more people by what he’s done after disappearing into the winter woods for 55 hours in late-2011, an ordeal that resulted in the amputation of both his feet. Thrust into the limelight, he thereafter worked to overcome depression and spoke openly about the topic. Cheseto earned a degree in nutrition, entered graduate school and became a graduate assistant coach for the UAA cross country team. Wearing special prostheses, he also returned to running competitions and aspires to compete in the 2016 Paralympics.
Nobody has made second-place look so good. Known for her trademark smile, this 45-year-old Iditarod musher is as gracious as she is good. Aliy Zirkle puts her dogs first, always praises the competition and never makes excuses. Zirkle showed tremendous character when she finished the 1,100-mile race in second for the third consecutive year. And she did it with a smile. Zirkle nearly chased down eventual winner Dallas Seavey at the final checkpoint during a brutal storm, losing by a mere 2. minutes in one of the most dramatic finishes in the race’s 40-year history.
Laci Effenberger, the former Ketchikan High School basketball star, overcame a devastating string of injuries to play a key role on the NCAA Division II Cal State East Bay women’s basketball team. Armed with toughness and resiliency, the 24-year-old came back from seven knee surgeries to start for the Pioneers and break the team single-season record for three pointers made (96) and game-record for 3-pointers made (7) for conference champion CSEB. “I’m lucky to be here,” she said. “I enjoy playing with people that have passion for the game, and I’m thankful my teammates do.”