May 17, 2018

Zach Miller from Colorado became the first elite runner to sign up for the Crow Pass Crossing shortly after registration opened on May 1.

His buddies Tim Tollefson and David Laney — both have finished on the podium at the prestigious Ultra Trail du Mont Blanc 100-miler — then followed suit.

No elite trail runner from the Lower 48 had entered Crow Pass in the iconic backcountry footrace’s 33-year history — and then suddenly there were three.

Alaskan Scott Patterson, a four-time champion who owns two of the top four times at Crow Pass, welcomes the competition.

Scott Patterson

“All three of these guys bring some serious accolades and talent to Crow Pass and I look forward to standing on the start line with them,” said Patterson, a 2018 Nordic skiing Olympian who delivered a stunning 11th place in the 50-kilometer event last February in South Korea.

Miller’s resume includes wins at three high-profile 50-milers — the North Face Endurance Challenge in San Francisco, the Lake Sonoma 50 and the JFK 50 in Maryland — plus a title at the Madeira Island Ultra Trail 115K in Portugal. He’s also placed among the Top 10 the past two years at the Ultra Trail du Mont Blanc 100-miler in France, arguably the most competitive 100-miler in the world.

Miller, 29, lives, trains and works as a caretaker at Barr Camp (elevation 10,200 feet) on Colorado’s famous Pike’s Peak.

On May 12, Miller, representing Team USA at the ITRA Trail World Championships in Spain, held a 3 ½ minute lead at 52 kilometers of the 85K race. That was nothing unusual, as Miller is known for his no-holds-barred racing style. Unfortunately for him, the aggressive tactics didn’t work out as he struggled with dehydration and ultimately placed eighth.

Zach Miller at the Trail World Championships. Photo: Dogsorcaravan.com

Meanwhile, Tollefson, 33, and Laney, 29, have had less domestic success than Miller but have made their marks at UTMB, where until recently Americans had a history of underperforming.

Tollefson, a physical therapist in Mammoth Lakes, Calif., placed third at UTMB the past two years, including a 2017 run of 19 hours, 53 minutes.

Laney, 29, was fourth at UTMB in 2016 and third in 2015.

While Crow Pass, at 22.5 extremely technical miles, is not even a quarter the distance of UTMB, Tollefson says the mileage is in his wheelhouse.

“I’ve only run two 100-milers and my favorite distance is still 50K,” Tollefson said via email.

Laney, of Ashland, Ore., has focused on longer races in recent years.

“But a few years ago I was racing 5K’s and 10K’s,” said Laney, whose girlfriend is from Anchorage. “I think this will feel more like a 50-miler than a 24-miler with all the climbing and technical nature of the race.”

Laney has visited Girdwood and run on trails at Alyeska Resort, but hasn’t yet been on the Crow Pass trail.

How did Crow Pass even get on their radar?

The link was Billy Yang, a runner and filmmaker from Los Angeles who raced Crow Pass in 2015 (finishing 79th).

“This was all Billy’s doing,” Tollefson explained. “He texted me one morning an Ultrasignup page and asked if I would ever consider this race. I had never heard of Crows Pass but seeing Zach on the list I thought ‘Sounds grand!’ (I) signed up and then immediately texted Laney to peer pressure him in as well.”

It’s a good thing they acted with urgency. The race reached capacity (150 entrants) in just over 7 hours and there’s now a wait list of 36 hopeful runners.

The event will be newly directed by the nonprofit Healthy Futures, which takes over from the University of Alaska Anchorage running program. After the fatal bear mauling on Bird Ridge in June 2017, Crow Pass was canceled for the first time ever.

The race begins at 9 a.m. on Saturday, July 28. Participants have six hours to travel from the Crow Pass Trailhead near Girdwood to the Eagle River Nature Center. Along the way, they’ll experience a 3 ½-mile climb, run downhill through waist-high vegetation with large hard-to-see rocks underfoot, cross the frigid Eagle River at the halfway point, possibly encounter yellowjackets, moose and bears, scramble through a “chutes and ladders” section, hop over deadfall and navigate a trail that is defined but unmarked.

Patterson said Crow Pass rookies may also have to deal with the frustration of briefly losing the main trail.

“For first-time racers, not getting lost is a big deal,” Patterson said. “I am talking about … the little mentally taxing wrong turns where you run into a campsite, have to reevaluate, backtrack, and get back into your flow for the race. In my first year, I had two significant wrong turns, even having run the course only two weeks prior.”

That year, Patterson, then 19, finished sixth in 3:19. He’s since entered Crow Pass four times races and won all four (2012, 2013, 2015, 2016). In 2015, Patterson clocked 2:56:13, a mark that is just 89 seconds shy of Geoff Roes’ record (2:54:44) from 2010, a year in which the Juneau runner won the prestigious Ultrarunner of the Year Award.

Patterson also notched 2:58 in 2016 and 3:00 in 2013.

“The record is what keeps me coming back,” said Patterson, who has trained more than 1,000 hours in each of the last two years and expects to average 25-30 hours of exercise per week this summer.

“I have been close in the past, but have started to realize that my cruiser winning pace is just not quite enough. I need some serious competition out there. Thus I am super excited to have the three out-of-state pros in the race. It should make for an exciting battle.”

Healthy Futures has also created a new incentive: a $500 prize to a male or female runner who breaks the record and wins the race.

Patterson, also the defending Mount Marathon Race champion, isn’t the only Alaskan with stout credentials entered. Allan Spangler is one of only four runners to break the 3-hour milestone with his 2:59:23 from 2015. His 3:01 won Crow Pass in 2014.

Other Alaskan entrants include AJ Schirack, the fifth-fastest Crow Pass runner in history (3:02 in 2016); upstart Kenneth Brewer (3:06 PR); Cody Priest (3:10 PR) and Ben Marvin (3:12 PR).

Eric Strabel, the only other man to break 3 hours at Crow Pass, plans to instead run the Matanuska Peak Challenge on Aug. 4.

However, Strabel’s wife, Denali, is part of a strong women’s field that also includes Laura Fox, Alison Barnwell, Heather Edic, Abby Jahn and Christy Marvin of Palmer, a three-time champion (2014-16).

In 2014, Marvin had a chance to break Nancy Pease’s 1990 record of 3:26:20, but took a bathroom break late in the race and finished an agonizing 24 seconds off the mark.

Pease won the race nine times, including tying Bill Spencer for the overall win in 1990. Only Marvin (three times) and Olympian Holly Brooks (one time) have come within 10 minutes of Pease’s record since she set it 28 years ago.

Will this be the year one or both of the records fall?

“A record is highly dependent on how the race unfolds as well as the race conditions,” Patterson opined. “One of the biggest challenges for Crow Pass is the lack of visibility when running. Not being able to see one’s feet on a highly technical trail usually imposes a speed limit for certain sections. The key to a record is to have somewhat reduced vegetation and make up time in the other areas.”

And if conditions are optimal?

Said Patterson: “With good conditions and a competitive field, I think the record could not just be broken, but smashed.”

– By Matias Saari, Alaska Sports Blog Contributor and Crow Pass Race Director

April 25, 2018

The talent pool is deep for Alaska high school sports stars, but the cream of the crop always rises to the top.

Three teens in particular have been recognized by the Alaska Sports Hall of Fame for displaying winning characteristics in competition and demonstrating championship character in life.

Dimond basketball star Alissa Pili, Service cross-country Skimeister Gus Schumacher and Soldotna football standout Brenner Furlong have been selected among an elite group of finalists as winners of the inaugural Directors’ Youth Awards. To see a full list of finalists, click here.

“Alaska has gone several years without any type of statewide, sportswide recognition for outstanding high school-aged athletic achievement,” said Harlow Robinson, executive director of the Alaska Sports Hall of Fame. “We felt the time was past due to bring this type of award back and we plan to make this an annual tradition.”

Pili was the girls choice and Schumacher the boys pick for the Pride of Alaska Award, and Furlong won the Trajan Langdon Award. The youth awards are an extension of the adult awards that started in 2012.

The winners were selected by the Alaska Sports Hall of Fame board of directors after a public submission process.

Alissa Pili

No doubt Dimond High sports star Alissa Pili cares about winning, but she might care more about being a good teammate and a good sport with opponents. Character and championships are not mutually exclusive in her book. The 6-footer is in large supply of both as she continues to carve out a prestigious prep career by winning her eighth state title in her fourth sport. Now she’s an inaugural winner of the Alaska Sports Hall of Fame’s Pride of Alaska Award. “I appreciate this award very much and am thankful for receiving it, but honestly I don’t let all these individual awards get to my head,” Pili told me. “I want to be remembered as not just a great player, but a great person. I want to be remembered as someone who plays with heart and passion and stays humble.” The two-time Gatorade Alaska Player of the Year led the undefeated and nationally ranked Lynx girls basketball team to a state title with a 22-point, 20-rebound performance in the championship game. She also owns state titles in track and field, wrestling and volleyball. “Finally winning a state title in basketball was the best feeling ever and I’m glad I got to experience it with such an amazing group of people,” she said. The NCAA D1 prospect has been offered a college scholarship from Saint Mary’s, BYU, Hawaii and Butler. Pili is the kind of role model younger players can look up to. “I am very proud to be in that kind of position and to motivate and inspire other kids to do what they love.”

Gus Schumacher and coach Jan Buron

To say that Service’s Gus Schumacher excels in skiing is a vast understatement. He was the highest-ranking junior at the 2018 Nordic national championships and anchored the historic, silver-medal winning U.S. relay team at the World Junior Championships. He was Skimeister at the Alaska state championships for the second time and helped the Cougars to the team title, and he earned two podiums at the 2018 Junior Nationals. “I try to represent it well and make it seem like a cool thing,” he told me. “I like it a lot. It’s hard to be a good skier without liking it a lot because there is so much hard, monotonous work.” There’s nothing dull about Schumacher. The 17-year-old was picked as an inaugural winner of the Alaska Sports Hall of Fame’s Pride of Alaska Award. “That made me feel great, especially to be among the inaugural winners and with so many great candidates,” he said. “When I see the list of candidates it makes me feel so good to be in that pool among some really great Alaska athletes.” A senior at Service who also competes for the Alaska Winter Stars, Schumacher is a 4.0 student who has competed on both the cross-country running and cross-country ski teams. As a runner, Schumacher won the state championship in his junior year before sitting out his senior year to focus on skiing. Now that his prep career is finished, he will focus on the next level. Not in college, but the national circuit. “I absolutely advocate for skiing. I like it a lot,” he said. “It’s hard to be a good skier without liking it a lot because there is so much hard, monotonous work.”

Brenner Furlong

A senior at Soldotna, Brenner Furlong serves his community, school and family with exemplary dedication and rigor. He’s prouder of his selfless service than his athletic achievements. And although most people know him for his play under the bright lights, you could say his best work comes when nobody is looking. His combined class and competitiveness helped Furlong win the inaugural Alaska Sports Hall of Fame Trajan Langdon Award for his leadership, sportsmanship and inspiration. “For someone else to recognize that is a huge honor and I’d like to say thank you,” he told me. He was Gatorade Alaska Football Player of the Year in 2016-17 and a two-time Offensive Player of the Year on the gridiron, 400-meter state champion in track and pays special attention to kids who need extra help, either due to a physical disability or in need of additional support with rides or help studying. Furlong can usually be found hanging out with a fellow student who is in a wheelchair due to cerebral palsy, and he consistently mentors younger players, carrying on a tradition in the Stars football program that did not lose a game in his career. He learned how to be a winner on and off the field from legendary Soldotna coach Galen Brantley. “He taught us how to respect other people and grow up to be good men,” Furlong said. “He would tell us, ‘If I taught you just how to win football games but you’re a horrible guy, then I failed as a coach.’” Furlong wants to dedicate this award to Brantley. “That’s why I’m super, super thankful to win this award,” he said. “Not in my honor, but in his honor. Thank you, coach, for teaching me the right way.”

April 3, 2018

The talent pool is deep for Alaska high school sports stars, but the cream of the crop always rises to the top.

Three teens in particular have been recognized by the Alaska Sports Hall of Fame for displaying winning characteristics in competition and demonstrating  championship character in life.

Dimond basketball star Alissa Pili, Service cross-country Skimeister Gus Schumacher and Soldotna football standout Brenner Furlong have been selected among an elite group of finalists as winners of the inaugural Directors’ Youth Awards. 

“Alaska has gone several years without any type of statewide, sportswide recognition for outstanding high school-aged athletic achievement,” said Harlow Robinson, executive director of the Alaska Sports Hall of Fame. “We felt the time was past due to bring this type of award back and we plan to make this an annual tradition.”

Pili was the girls choice and Schumacher the boys pick for the Pride of Alaska Award, and Furlong won the Trajan Langdon Award. The youth awards are an extension of the adult awards that started in 2012.

All of the youth and adult winners will be honored at the annual Alaska Sports Hall of Fame ceremony April 24 at the Anchorage Museum.  

The winners were selected by the Alaska Sports Hall of Fame board of directors after a public submission process.

“I know I speak for the entire Alaska Sports Hall of Fame board of directors in saying we were blown away by the number of great candidates and inspired by the quality of character as well as the talents of our young athletes from across the state,” said Robinson.

Winners were selected from pools of finalists narrowed down from the original list of nominees. “Our selection panel made some difficult decisions,” said Robinson.  “There were dozens of nominees worthy of consideration that did not make the list of finalists.”

Pride of Alaska Youth Award: For Consistent Excellence in Athletic Competition. 

GIRLS WINNER:  Alissa Pili, Anchorage

A junior at Dimond High, she has earned three volleyball state titles, one wrestling state title, three track and field titles (shot put as a freshman and sophomore, discus as a sophomore and a basketball state title after the Lynx finished the 2017-18 season undefeated and nationally ranked. Alissa, known as a kind and supportive teammate, excels most in basketball, where she was named Gatorade Alaska Player of the Year after both her sophomore and junior seasons. 

 

BOYS WINNER: Gus Schumacher, Anchorage

A senior at Service High who also competes for the Alaska Winter Stars, Gus is a 4.0 student who has competed on both the cross-country running and cross-country ski teams. As a runner, Gus won the state championship in his junior year before sitting out his senior year to focus on skiing. To say that Gus excels in skiing is a vast understatement. He was the highest-ranking junior at the 2018 Nordic national championships and anchored the historic, silver-medal winning U.S. relay team at the World Junior Championships. He was Skimeister at the Alaska state championships for the second time and helped the Cougars to the team title, and he earned two podiums at the 2018 Junior Nationals.

GIRLS FINALISTS: 

Sydnee Kimber, Mount Edgecumbe: A senior at Mount Edgecumbe, Sydnee became Alaska’s first four-time state champion for girls wrestling, surrendering just three earned points against female opponents in Alaska during that span. She finished her high school wrestling career with 108 wins, with more than 60 against boys. She was twice voted girls Outstanding Wrestler at the state tournament. In 2017, Sydnee won the Junior Fargo Nationals which led to her ranking as the nation’s best female wrestler at 164lbs. Sydnee has signed a letter of intent with McKendree University in Lebanon, Ill. in the fall of 2018. She owns a 3.99 GPA.

Kendall Kramer, Fairbanks: A sophomore at West Valley, Kendall was named Gatorade Alaska Girls’ Cross-Country Runner of the Year and qualified to represent the U.S. in Scandinavian Nations Cup competition in Finland. She also earned three medals at the U.S. Nordic Junior Nationals in Utah in January and earned the Skimeister award as Alaska’s top high school skier. 

BOYS FINALISTS:

Thomas Dyment, Bethel: A senior at Bethel High, Thomas is a four-time state wrestling champion with spotless integrity on and off the mat. He is an excellent student and role model. Thomas has volunteered his time and knowledge to help with Bethel’s freestyle club and middle-school wrestlers, and he has also refereed. Thomas leads by example.  Thomas was 63-0 his last two seasons and finished his high school career with a 127-7 record while becoming only the 11th Alaskan to win four wrestling state championships.

Arctic Ivanoff, Unalakleet: Arctic is a complete student-athlete – a state champion in Native Youth Olympics and owner of multiple All-State selections in basketball and Mix 6 Volleyball. He combines competitiveness with sportsmanship and academic prowess.  Three times an all-state performer in basketball, Arctic will graduate from Unalakleet High School as one of its all-time leading scorers and rebounders. 

Jacob Moos, Galena: A senior at Galena High, Jacob is not only a tremendous athlete in cross-country running and track (six-time state champion, Alaska Gatorade Player of the Year) but he excels outside of running too. Jacob was also the starting point guard on the basketball team and medaled several times at the Arctic winter games in snowshoe biathlon events. He is involved in serving the community in a variety of ways. A straight-A student and currently working toward his private pilot’s license, Jacob is mature beyond his years and an outstanding student-athlete. 

Derryk Snell, Eagle River: A multi-sport senior at Chugiak High, Derryk scored 38 touchdowns and compiled 2,197 yards to earn 2017 Alaska Gatorade Player of the Year while helping the Mustangs to an undefeated regular season. Derryk was an all-state basketball player while helping Chugiak get back to the state tournament for the first time in 12 years. The senior signed a letter of intent to play football at Montana State next year.

Trajan Langdon Youth Award: For Leadership, Sportsmanship and Inspiration 

WINNER:  Brenner Furlong, Soldotna

A senior at Soldotna High, Brenner serves his community, school and family with exemplarity dedication and rigor. He was Gatorade football Player of the Year in 2016-17, two-time Offensive Player of the Year, 400-meter state champion in track and pays special attention to kids who need extra help, either due to a physical disability or in need of additional support with rides or help studying. Brenner always includes a fellow player who is in a wheel chair due to cerebral palsy, and he consistently mentors younger players, carrying on a tradition in the Stars football program that did not lose a game in his career. 

FINALISTS:

Tatum Bayne, Sitka: A senior at Sitka High, Tatum was a four-year starter in girls basketball  (2015 state championship, state runner-up in 2017, 2018). Tatum was the basketball team captain and an all-state selection.  But while she has made significant contributions to basketball, softball, volleyball, and track and field teams, she is more highly regarded for her activities away from sports.  She is a member of the National Honor Society, maintains exceptional academics and is exemplary in the community.   Tatum dedicates significant time to community service and fundraising.  She has demonstrated model citizenship with examples such as the time she turned in $300 cash that she found in a hotel drawer while on a team trip, or the extra time she spends with a special needs student.

Simeon Beardon, Anchorage: After his friend, Leroy, was shot and killed by a stray bullet in a drive-by shooting, Simeon worked to unite mourners to make a positive impact. Simeon, a senior at East High, helped organized a car wash as a fundraiser for the family to assist with medical and funeral expenses. As a senior captain on the  East High basketball team he proposed an idea of “Long Live Leroy” as its motto for the season. Simeon is respected by his peers through his character, charm and charisma.

Brandon Gall, Anchorage: A sophomore at Service High, Brandon has volunteered as a basketball coach at middle-school and youth levels. Last year, Brandon put together a spring league team to help build the Cougars program while it was between coaches. He arranged the players, collected payment, ordered jerseys and even found a coach to oversee the league. He is class president, holds down two jobs (McDonald’s and refereeing in several youth leagues) and gives kids rides to and from practice.

Tobin Karlberg, Anchorage: A senior at Grace Christian, Tobin leads his team with enthusiasm, kindness and good nature toward opposing players and exhibits genuine sportsmanship. His accomplishments as a basketball player are well documented – he’s the Gatorade Player of the Year and headed to UAA on a basketball scholarship after finishing his high school career with over 2,000 points.  But Tobin is equally dedicated off the court.  During the summer he travels to numerous rural communities where he helps provide program for children and teens.  He also serves as a volunteer basketball coach in after-school programs and works with NBC camps throughout the summer.

Grace Miller, Palmer: Grace was born in Guangzhou, China, without her left forearm and adopted by her mother, Kym, at age 3. Miller never let her disability define her, competing on the Palmer High School Nordic ski team before qualifying for the 2018 Paralympic Games in South Korea, where she was one of two Alaskans to participate. Grace plans to attend the University of Alaska Fairbanks and continue her skiing career while studying biology.

Duncan Okitkun, Kotlik:  Duncan has been a standout athlete for four years at Kotlik High School, starring in Mix 6 volleyball, basketball and Native Youth Olympics. The senior also leads a drumming class at the Kotlik Schools and represented Lower Yukon School District as a student leader during the Alaska Federation of Natives Convention.  He takes time to talk with elders who are experienced in their fields of practice as well as with other youth he meets.  He represented his school at the AASB conference where he was selected to receive a Spirit of Youth Award along with 6 other students from across the state.   He is a student representative at the Alaska Whaling Commission and plans to attend UAF in the fall.

 The Youth Awards recipients will be honored  during an evening that also recognizes adult awards recipients (including Kikkan Randall, Roxy Wright and Andrew Kurka), and inducts the Alaska Sports Hall of Fame Class of 2018. Individuals Holly Brooks and Virgil Hooe, the Arctic Winter Games (Event), and Dolly Lefever becoming the first American woman to conquer the famed Seven Summits (Moment) will all be honored.

March 15, 2018
Kikkan Randall nordic skiing Olympics

Kikkan Randall

Winter sports stars and pioneers and a hardcourt success story highlight the Class of 2018 Directors Awards winners.

The Directors Awards recipients will be honored at the annual Alaska Sports Hall of Fame induction ceremony and reception April 24 at the Anchorage Museum.

The Alaska Sports Hall of Fame will be adding Youth Directors’ Awards for high school-aged athletes. The winners of the inaugural youth awards will be announced the last week of March.

The 2018 adult winners:

Pride of Alaska Award (female)–For Consistent Excellence in Athletic Competition
Co-Winners:

Kikkan Randall – In her 18th and final attempt at an Olympic medal, Randall teamed with Jessie Diggins to win a gold medal in the Nordic Team Sprint event in dramatic fashion. It was the first-ever gold medal for the US Nordic Ski Team and first medal ever for the women’s team. For Randall, who helped elevate Team USA to international respectability, the gold medal cements her legacy as one of the greatest American nordic skiers ever.

Roxy Wright

Roxy Wright

Roxy Wright – After retiring from competitive sled dog racing 21 years earlier, 66-year-old Fairbanks musher Roxy Wright returned to write the final chapter of her storied mushing career when she captured her fourth North American Championship in March 2017 in Fairbanks to sweep the crown jewels of sprint mushing. This came three weeks after winning the Fur Rendezvous Open World Championship in Anchorage. In both races Wright edged out defending champion Buddy Streeper.

Pride of Alaska Award (male)–For Consistent Excellence in Athletic Competition

Andrew Kurka skiing

Andrew Kurka

Andrew Kurka – After winning three medals – a gold, silver and bronze – at the 2017 World Para Alpine Championships, the Palmer native solidified his position as the top sit skier in the world by winning a gold in the downhill and silver in Super G at the 2018 Paralympics in South Korea. Kurka is also a talented paracyclist and active in the community supporting programs that promote healthy youth.

Joe Floyd Award–For Significant and Lasting Contribution to Alaska through Sports
Jim Mahaffey – Mahaffey came to Alaska in 1963 to coach skiing at the University of Alaska in Fairbanks. His legacy includes helping found the Equinox Marathon, coaching Olympians at Alaska Methodist University, developing the Alaska Pacific University trail system and starting the still-popular Tuesday Night Runs. He’s still skiing and active in the community at age 87.

Trajan Langdon Award–For Leadership, Sportsmanship and Inspiration

Dajonee Hale basketball

Dajonee Hale

Nene Hale – Hale overcame incredible adversity to find success in basketball and the classroom. She earned All-American honors as a sophomore and junior [and is playing like a national player of the year as a senior] for NAIA Central Methodist University, where she recently became the first women’s player in school history to eclipse 2,000 career points. As a high school student in Anchorage, Hale and her siblings were homeless and not going to school before being taken in by a foster family in Wasilla. She is now on the Dean’s List at CMU and has shown a passion for social activism. “Her teammates absolutely love her. Her work ethic in the classroom and on the court is second to none,” her coach Gregory Ray said. “Leadership has not always been her strong suit. Those that know her know how quiet she is and what her struggles have been.”

The Directors’ Awards presentations are part of an evening that also includes the induction of Alaska Sports Hall of Fame Class of 2018.

Individuals Holly Brooks and Virgil Hooe, the Arctic Winter Games (Event), and Dolly Lefever becoming the first American woman to conquer the famed Seven Summits (Moment) will all be honored.

December 7, 2017

Anchorage’s Dolly Lefever didn’t set out to climb all of the highest peaks on each of the seven continents, but that’s exactly what she did.

Dolly Lefever

Lefever made mountaineering magic in 1993 when she reached the top of Australia’s Mount Kosciuszko to become the first American woman and third woman ever to conquer the famed Seven Summits.

It’s a moment that will be celebrated by the Alaska Sports Hall of Fame as part of the celebration to induct the Class of 2018.
Iconic volleyball coach Virgil Hooe and Olympic cross-country skier Holly Brooks will join Lefever’s moment and the Arctic Winter games will headline an induction ceremony this April 24th, at the Anchorage Museum.
The news was made official today by Hall of Fame executive director Harlow Robinson. This will be the 12th class to be honored by the Hall.

“We’re excited to announce the Class of 2018 and induct them into the Hall in April,” said Robinson.  “This class represents our state’s diverse sports culture well and is a group we can very proud of.”

Virgil Hooe

Lefever’s other six summits included Everest [Asia], Aconcagua [South America], Denali [North America], Kilimanjaro [Africa], Elbrus [Europe] and Vinson [Antarctica].

Hooe, of Anchorage, is an Alaska volleyball pioneer and record-setting high school coach with 11 Class 4A state championships, including a record 10 at Service High School, in the 1970s, 1980s, 1990s and 2000s.

In all, Hooe won more than 400 matches, 14 region tournament titles and 17 regular-season conference championships.

In 1983, he founded the Midnight Sun Volleyball club team that has helped dozens of players land college scholarships.

Hooe was the head coach at West from 1976 to 1981 and at Service from 1982 to 2003 before he joined South in 2004 as a volunteer assistant. Years later, he served as a volunteer assistant at the University of Alaska.

Synonymous with volleyball in Alaska, his legacy impacted hundreds of teen girls as he single-handedly changed the face of the sport through his leadership, direction and mentoring.

Holly Brooks

Brooks, of Anchorage, is a former U.S. Ski Team member who twice competed in the Olympics and was part of the first Americans to podium in a 4x5K World Cup relay race.

She skied at Whitman College but never qualified for a national meet until she joined the Alaska Pacific University Nordic Ski Center in 2006. She took a job as a coach and it changed her life.

Brooks quickly earned her stripes as a Sourdough and developed into an elite athlete. By 2009 she had won her first national championship, one of nine victories that winter that propelled her to the 2010 Olympics.

She went on to post seven top-10 World Cup finishes, capture a pair of national championships and secure a second Olympic spot in 2014. Other career highlights included victories in the 50K Tour of Anchorage and 55K American Birkebeiner marathon.

Brooks was also a prestigious mountain runner and captured multiple titles in some of Alaska’s most distinctive races such as Mount Marathon, Bird Ridge and Lost Lake.

The Arctic Winter Games were founded in 1969 with the help of Alaska Gov. Walter J. Hickel.

Since then, the Games have been held on two dozen occasions to focus on the athletes from Alaska, Canada, Russia and Greenland.

The 2018 Games will be the 25th edition.

Alaska has hosted the Games six times, most recently in Fairbanks in 2014.

March 9, 2017

Two fierce competitors setting new standards and two athletes dedicated to youth mentorship comprise the 2017 Directors’ Awards Class.

The Directors’ Awards recipients will be honored at the annual Alaska Sports Hall of Fame induction ceremony and reception on Thursday, April 27 at the Anchorage Museum.

The 2017 winners:

Pride of Alaska Award (female)-For Consistent Excellence in Athletic Competition.   

Morgan Hooe – Hooe, a senior setter from Anchorage, was the heartbeat of the UAA volleyball team that advanced to the NCAA Division II national championship match. Hooe became the first setter in UAA history to be named an All-American in 2015 (a feat she duplicated in 2016) and helped lead the Seawolves to a 61-6 record over her last two seasons. She finished as UAA’s all-time leader in assists with 3,920. Hooe’s reputation as a fierce competitor was displayed during the regional tournament, when she returned from injury and rallied her team to victory. Hooe’s community service and academic achievements reflected the same integrity that she brought to the court.

Pride of Alaska Award (male)–For Consistent Excellence in Athletic Competition.  

David Norris – In his first attempt at Seward’s Mount Marathon Race in 2016, Norris broke the record established by Kilian Jornet, regarded as the world’s best mountain runner. Two weeks earlier, Norris set a new standard at the Bird Ridge mountain race. A member of APU’s elite nordic ski team, the Fairbanks native also claimed the largest ski marathon in the country, the American Birkebeiner, by winning a dramatic sprint against six Europeans in 2016. He aspires to qualify for the 2018 Olympics in South Korea.

Joe Floyd Award–For Significant and Lasting Contribution to Alaska through Sports

Ma’o Tosi – After excelling in basketball and football at Anchorage’s East High School and then at the University of Idaho, Tosi played three seasons for the Arizona Cardinals of the National Football League before an injury forced an early retirement. He then returned to Anchorage and created a non-profit organization for at-risk youth, AK P.R.I.D.E. (Alaskan People Representing Integrity and Diverse Experiences). The program has received national recognition and has helped thousands of Anchorage youth foster skills and develop self-esteem in sports and the arts.  A recipient of Alaska’s Top 40 Under 40 Award, Tosi remains a tireless advocate for youth in Anchorage.

Trajan Langdon AwardFor Leadership, Sportsmanship and Inspiration. 

Damen Bell HoltereDamen Bell-Holter – A native of Hydaburg and graduate of Ketchikan High School, Bell-Holter played basketball at Oral Roberts University before competing in the National Basketball Association’s Development League. He now competes professionally in Italy. Growing up, Bell-Holter was surrounded by poverty, drug abuse, and other reckless behavior and now speaks to youth about suicide prevention, obesity and other issues. A member of the Haida Nation, Bell-Holter returns to Alaska every summer and mentors children through his Blessed 2 Bless basketball camp, which is steered by the mission to “give back to youth through the game of basketball.”

 

The Directors’ Awards presentations are part of an evening that also includes the induction of Alaska Sports Hall of Fame Class of 2017. Individuals Martin Buser, Jeff King and Nicole Johnston, the Fur Rendezvous Sled Dog Race (Event), and Vern Tejas’ Winter Solo Ascent of Denali (Moment) will all be honored.

For additional information about the Directors’ Awards and previous winners visit our Directors’ Awards page . Director’s Award recipients will be recognized on a plaque at the Alaska Sports Hall of Fame gallery at the Ted Stevens Anchorage International airport.

The Alaska Sports Hall of Fame Board of Directors are Jim Balamaci (President), Jason Metrokin (Vice President), Chris Myers (Treasurer/Secretary), Matt Carle, Chuck Homan, Nina Kemppel, Gina Luckey, Rick Mystrom and Eric Ohlson. Harlow Robinson is the Executive Director.

December 13, 2016
A couple of champions from the famed Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race and a legend from the Native Games world are headed to the Alaska Sports Hall of Fame.
 
Dog mushing moguls Martin Buser and Jeff King will join World Eskimo Indian Olympics icon Nicole Johnston as individuals to be inducted with the Class of 2017.
Other inductions included the moment mountaineering legend Vern Tejas became the first solo climber to complete a winter ascent of the 20,310-foot Denali in 1988 and in the event category the longtime Fur Rendezvous World Championship Sled Dog Race.
“We’re excited about the Class of 2017,” said Alaska Sports Hall of Fame executive director Harlow Robinson. “The inductees represent classically Alaskan sports.  It’s a group of household names in our state that have been in the discussion for induction for many years.”
 
This is the 11th class inducted into the Alaska Sports Hall of Fame.  The date for the 2017 induction ceremony is to be announced. 
 
Buser is a four-time winner of the 1,000-mile Iditarod and currently holds the race record for most consecutive finishes with 31. He has registered 19 top-10 finishes, including 14 straight from 1987-2000.
 
In 2002, his team ran a record time of 8 days and 22 hours – a mark that stood for nine years.
 
The Big Lake musher was been awarded the coveted Leonhard Seppala Award for humanitarian dog care an unprecedented five times in 1988, 1993, 1995 and 1997 and 2014.
 
King is another four-time winner of the Last Great Race, but his winning pedigree extends beyond the Iditarod.
 
Jeff King Dog MushingThe Denali Park musher has possibly collected more race titles than any other distance and mid-distance musher in the world.
 
In addition to his success in marathons like the Iditarod, Yukon Quest and the International Rocky Mountain Stage Stop, King has lived up to his name by winning the Kuskokwim 300 nine times, the Tustumena 200 three times and Copper Bain 300 twice.
 
Johnston collected more than 100 career medals in major Native Games competition like WEIO, the Native Youth Olympics and Arctic Winter Games.
 
She learned the games in Nome and emerged as her generation’s greatest champion. Later she became an ambassador of the sport, traveling the state to teach skills to the next generation.
 
Nicole Johnston Alaska High KickHer versatility is as renowned as her durability. She won technical events like the kneel jump, strength events like the arm pull and athletic events like the high kick.
 
Johnston’s two-foot high kick record of 6 feet, 6 inches set in 1989 stood for 25 years.
 
Tejas became a household name in Alaska in 1988 when he became the first climber to complete a solo winter ascent of Denali, formerly known as Mount McKinley – the tallest peak in North America.
 
The three-day Fur Rondy sprint race dates back to 1946 and has been voted “Best Event” by the International Sled Dog Racing Association. The event attracts many of the world’s best sprint mushers, who guide their teams past cheering crowds that line city streets and trails.

November 21, 2016

 

 

fall-2016-newsletter-final-interactive_page_1Alaskans,  We hope you enjoy “AKtive”, the Alaska Sports Hall of Fame/Healthy Futures newsletter.  Click on the image to read our Fall  20016 edition!

 

August 1, 2016
Janay DeLoach track and field

Janay DeLoach

It’s easy for fans to see the bright lights of success, but being a star athlete has a dark side too.

Most people don’t see the sweat, sacrifice and solitude.

“First and foremost you have to love it, whatever you’re doing – baseball, gymnastics, soccer, track and field, football. Whatever it is you have to love it because you’re going to do it so much it’s going to make you sick sometimes,” U.S. Olympian Janay DeLoach of Fairbanks told me.

“You have to work really, really hard, all the time. Even on the days you don’t want to work when you’re tired and you’re body feels yucky, those are the days that matter most. It’s hardest to do but it means you are making progress.”

DeLoach, of Eielson High fame, won an Olympic bronze medal at the 2012 Games in London in the women’s long jump. She is going back to the Summer Games this year in Rio after finishing third at the Olympic Trials.

DeLoach, 30, was one of many Alaska Sports Hall of Fame members on hand at last week’s ASHOF 10-year celebration party at the Alaska Airlines Center.

What better place to gain perspective on inspiration than from the people who deliver it on a regular basis.

“I have failed my way to another Olympic team,” she said with a smile. “I’ve had a pretty bad season, but I knew it took only one jump. It doesn’t matter where I failed before as long as when I needed it most it came for me.”

DeLoach was forced to switch her traditional takeoff last year because of injuries. She jumped off her left leg at the 2012 Olympics but will jump off her right leg at the 2016 Games.

In doing so she has inspired other jumpers all over the country that have been forced to switch legs. Rather than giving up, DeLoach has taught them to give it a try.

“You gotta work hard,” she said. “It’s not going to be easy and if you think that’s the case, or if you want it easy, this is not the thing you should be doing. I hope am I helping someone out.”

al_sokaitis_basketballsm1Former University of Alaska Fairbanks men’s basketball coach Al Sokaitis helped make history in 2002 when the Nanooks became the first NCAA D2 team to win a DI tournament at the Top of the World Classic.

He talked about the importance of being a role model.

“I always think talent is something you get on loan. You don’t have it forever. What you do when you have it determines what happens with the next generation; so if you take that talent and use it to inspire kids and they see how hard you’re working, how important it is to do the right things, then the next group coming up wants to be like you,” he told me.

“I idolized the kids that were in high school when I was in the sixth grade. People don’t realize how important that period is, but those people inspired me to do what I did, and hopefully I’ve been able to do things as a basketball coach to help kids get where they want to get.”

David Registe TrackWorld-class long jumper David Registe of Palmer is still chasing his Olympic dream. The 28-year-old is a former NCAA D2 national champion for the University of Alaska Anchorage who now competes professionally for Dominica. He won a bronze medal at the Pan Am Games in 2011 and captured a gold medal at the Central American and Caribbean Games in 2014.

He reminded athletes to make their own decisions.

“Especially in today’s world where everybody you talk to has an opinion about your life. You have to filter out those opinions. You have to choose in your life who’s opinion matters to you and who’s doesn’t, because everybody is going to tell you what to do, where to go; everybody wants to be a part of that,” Registe told me.

Dimond High hockey coach Dennis Sorenson of Anchorage last season became the first prep hockey coach in Alaska history to win 500 career games.

He promoted the idea of kids playing multiple sports rather than focusing on just one.

“Actually, Scott Gomez and I were talking a little while ago that too many kids are specialized at too young of an age. We think it’s the coaches pushing them, but it’s actually the parents pushing them. They need to play multiple sports, do multiple activities, and just be active, healthy and have fun. Maybe at 14, 15, when they bodies develop, that’s when you specialize,” Sorenson told me.

Passion drives success.

“You have to play for the love of the sport,” Sorenson said. “Dream all you want, but if you’re not playing for the love of the sport you won’t go anywhere. You have to enjoy the journey.”

Bill-SpencerFamed mountain runner and 1988 Olympic cross-country skier Bill Spencer of Anchorage stressed the importance of finding balance on and off the athletic field.

“I think the main thing that I’ve learned over the years is you have to keep it fun and you have to keep variety in there,” Spencer told me. “Hate to see these kids get too specialized too early and that derails them. You see a lot of people burn out because they are training too hard, too focused. Pick a lot of things you like to do and keep it fun.

“There’s a time to get serious, but when you’re first getting started that’s not it.”

Kris Thorsness of Anchorage was the first Alaskan to win an Olympic medal when she pocketed a gold medal in women’s rowing at the 1984 Games in Los Angeles.

She wants kids to play outside.

KrisThorsness ADN (4)“One of the great things about being in Alaska is the outdoors here is so fantastic, there are so many things to do. Get outside and get away from the electronics,” Thorsness told me.

She said the Alaska Sports Hall of Fame is an example of what is possible for kids in the 907.

“I met people that were like, ‘If she can do it, I could do it,’” Thorsness said. “I think that’s a big piece of it is getting us out there to meet kids, to talk with kids, to talk to them about where we come from and the steps we took. A lot of it is hard work, dedication and following your passion because that’s really key. You really have to want to do this in order to succeed.”

July 29, 2016

Inarguably Alaska’s greatest runner and the state’s best track and field athlete both went to the Olympics, and now they are headed to the Alaska Sports Hall of Fame.

Don Clary and Janay DeLoach will headline the Class of 2016 induction ceremony tonight at Ted Stevens International Airport along with two moments and an event.

The Class of 2016 also includes the moment Anchorage’s Matt Carle won the celebrated Hobey Baker Award as college hockey’s best player in 2006 and when the Special Olympics World Winter Games came to Anchorage in 2001.

The 40-year-old plus Native Youth Olympics was inducted as the event.

Don Clary
Don ClaryAn icon in cleats, Clary was the first Alaska runner to qualify for the Olympics when he competed at the 1984 Summer Games in Los Angeles.

He advanced to the Olympic semifinals in the 5,000 meters, a moment that is nominated for Alaska Sports Hall of Fame consideration. He qualified by finishing third at the Olympic Trials. Four years earlier he was fifth.

Clary also ran in the 1983 Pan American Games and placed fifth in the 5K race.

In 1986, Clary beat former Boston Marathon winner Alberto Salazar to win the Alaska 10K Classic. The next year he set the course record of 28:35 – a mark that still stands today.

In college, Clary was a four-time NCAA All-American at the University of Oregon and member of school’s 1977 cross country team that captured the national championship. He was also a Pac-10 champion.

At East Anchorage High School, he won two state cross country titles and set an Alaska prep record in the two-mile run [9:04.04] that has stood for nearly 40 years.

Janay DeLoach track

Janay DeLoach

The greatest track and field athlete in Alaska history, DeLoach is one of the most successful long jumpers on the planet with four US championships, a Worlds silver medal and an Olympic bronze medal from the 2012 Games.

A broken left ankle in 2013 forced her to abandon her traditional takeoff and switch to using her right leg. She still qualified for the World Championships and became first woman to jump 6.95 meters off either leg.

In 2014, DeLoach qualified for Worlds in the 60-meter hurdles after a second-place finish at the US Championships. That year she won hurdles races at the Millrose Games and Boston Grand Prix.

She was a 4-time NCAA All-American at Colorado State University.

At Eielson High School near Fairbanks, DeLoach was a 4-time long jump state champion and still holds the Alaska state record of 19-5.

Moment[s]

Matt Carle

Matt Carle

When Anchorage’s Matt Carle won the Hobey Baker Award in 2006 as college hockey’s best player he became the only Alaskan and first University of Denver player to do so.

Carle, a junior defenseman, led the nation in assists [42] that season and was No. 1 among defensemen in points [53].

He also was selected the Western Collegiate Hockey Association’s Player of the Year and Defensive Player of the Year — a first in league history.

The 2001 Special Olympics World Winter Games invigorated Anchorage with the largest international sporting event ever staged in Alaska.

More than 1,800 Special Olympians competed in seven different events at venues throughout the city.

Event
NYOThe Native Youth Olympics started in 1971 and features a variety of traditional Native games that test an athlete’s strength, courage and discipline.

Native games had long been a custom in rural Alaska before the NYO competition was founded by a group of Anchorage teachers organized by Sarah Hanuske, a coordinator for the state’s boarding home program.

The idea of creating a statewide competition was to give the relocated students living with strangers in Anchorage a taste of home because prior to NYO they had no real connection with where they came from during the school year.

The inaugural NYO featured a dozen and took one afternoon and featured 100 students.

Now it reaches out to more than 2,000 kids, making it so large NYO created a junior and senior competition lasting three days each.

June 6, 2016
Janay DeLoach track and field

Janay DeLoach

After winning the state long jump title all four years at Eielson High School and earning a college scholarship to Colorado State University, Janay DeLoach of Fairbanks was totally committed to track and field.

Yet she wasn’t in love with the sport.

“Most of it was a means to an end,” DeLoach told me.

That all changed in 2005 when a brush with greatness rubbed off on the rest of her life.

She was a college sophomore competing in Berkley, California, against a strong field that included former Olympian long jumper Grace Upshaw.

“I just so happened to be beating her, it wasn’t very much, but it was the first time I jumped 21 feet,” DeLoach said. “In that moment I realized, ‘I’m beating an Olympian.’ In that moment I kind of realized, ‘There’s potential. I have something that maybe some people don’t have.’

“That was kind of my moment when I truly did fall in love with the sport. From that day forward I put in so much more effort than I ever did before. I wanted to get better and progress and that’s where my Olympic aspirations were born in the idea that, ‘Hey I might have what it takes to be good.’”

DeLoach has gone on to become the greatest track and field athlete in Alaska history and one of the most successful long jumpers on the planet with four U.S. championships, a Worlds silver medal and an Olympic bronze medal from the 2012 Games.

The 30-year-old remains a medal contender on the world’s biggest stage and will compete at the Olympic Trials this summer in the long jump and hurdles.

She’s also headed to the Alaska Sports Hall of Fame as a member of the Class of 2016.

“I’m absolutely honored and a little surprised. There are a lot of people that have come out of Alaska that deserve that spot,” she said. “The people of Alaska have always supported me and I’ve always appreciated that.”

Growing up, DeLoach actually dreamed of being an Olympic gymnast.

“I wanted to be the next Dominique Dawes,” she said. “It didn’t even occur to me that track and field would be something that would eventually take me to the Olympics. I was in Alaska.”

A broken left ankle in 2013 forced her to abandon her traditional takeoff and switch to using her right leg. She still qualified for the World Championships and became first woman to jump 6.95 meters off either leg.

In 2014, DeLoach qualified for Worlds in the 60-meter hurdles after a second-place finish at the US Championships. She also won races at the Millrose Games and Boston Grand Prix that year.

In 2015, she won the long jump at the 57th annual Mt. SAC Relays and competed at the World Championships in China.

“Once I fell in love with track and field I wanted to get better and progress and that’s where my Olympic aspirations were born in the idea that, ‘Hey, I might have what it takes to be good.’”

DeLoach still holds the Alaska high school state record of 19 feet, 5 inches, set in 2003.

MEET & GREET: The Alaska Sports Hall of Fame will host a 10-year celebration on the night of July 28 at the Alaska Airlines Center. DeLoach will be among the Alaska sports legends on hand, joining others in attendance like Tommy Moe, Kikkan Randall, Scott Gomez, Lance Mackey , Don Clary, Dallas Seavey, Allie Ostrander, Mark Schlereth, Reggie Joule and Vern Tejas and many others.  Get more information on the 10-Year Celebration events.

May 18, 2016

Don ClaryDon Clary of Anchorage hasn’t been a competitive runner since the turn of the century, but people still recognize him.

Going to the Olympics can make you a celebrity.

Clary is arguably Alaska’s greatest runner and was the first Alaska runner to qualify for the Olympics when he competed at the 1984 Summer Games in Los Angeles.

“In my career as a banker, people will see my name and ask, ‘Are you the runner? Well, yeah. I was the runner,’” he told me. “Those are folks that grew up here in the 60s, 70s, 80s, that’s when my career was in its heyday. A lot of my records have been erased and not around anymore.”

His legacy, however, will live forever.

The 58-year-old will be inducted into the Alaska Sports Hall of Fame with the Class of 2016.

“I think I probably anticipated at one point that I would be selected, but you’ve got a lot of athletes and individuals that have accomplished a lot of things here in the state, so it’s a matter of when your time comes,” Clary said.

“It’s been quite a few years since I competed, so it’s kind of been an interesting experience. It’s caused me to reflect back on a few things in my career I don’t think about that a whole lot. I don’t run anymore because I’ve had hip surgery, so I’ve been out of those circles for quite some time.”

From East Anchorage High School to the University of Oregon to the Olympics and beyond, Clary was always ahead of the pack.

Don Clary QualAt the 1984 Olympics he advanced to the semifinals in the 5,000 meters, a moment that is nominated for Alaska Sports Hall of Fame consideration. He qualified by finishing third at the Olympic Trials. Four years earlier he was fifth.

Clary also ran in the 1983 Pan American Games and placed fifth in the 5K race.

In 1986, Clary beat former Boston Marathon winner Alberto Salazar to win the Alaska 10K Classic. The next year he set the course record of 28 minutes, 35 seconds – a mark that still stands today.

In college, Clary was a four-time NCAA All-American for the Ducks and member of Oregon’s 1977 cross country team that captured the national championship. He was also a Pac-10 champion.

At East, he won two state cross country titles and set an Alaska prep record in the two-mile run [9:04.04] that has stood for nearly 40 years.

“When I was a senior I was selected to be on the World Junior Cross Country Team and we went over to Morocco and placed fifth,” Clary said. “That was quite a highlight for me and really opened doors for me from a college standpoint.”

That performance put him on the map.

“When you’re from Alaska, especially back in the 70s, nobody is really sure that the times you are posting are really accurate,” he said. “You’re just so far removed from the rest of the country and it’s not a sport that you would anticipate somebody from Alaska excelling in.”

MEET & GREET: The Alaska Sports Hall of Fame will host a 10-year celebration on the night of July 28 at the Alaska Airlines Center. Clary will be among the Alaska sports legends on hand, joining others in attendence like Tommy Moe, Kikkan Randall, Scott Gomez, Janay DeLoach, Don Clary, Dallas Seavey, Allie Ostrander, Mark Schlereth, Reggie Joule and Vern Tejas.

April 12, 2016

ANCHORAGE – Two athletes on meteoric career trajectories and two teams on remarkable runs of excellence bookend a 2016 Directors’ Awards Class that also includes a hockey star-turned leader of youth and a basketball player who overcame tremendous adversity.

The 2016 Directors’ Awards recipients will be recognized this summer at the Alaska Sports Hall of Fame 10-Year Celebration events in Anchorage on July 28th and 29th.

The 2016 winners:

Joe Floyd Award–For Significant and Lasting Contribution to Alaska through Sports.

Dennis Sorenson – After a prolific career at UAA in the early 80’s, the two-time, first-team All-American began coaching youth hockey in Anchorage. His Bantam Team was the first Alaska team to win a USA Hockey Tier I national championship. He has coached at Dimond High School since 1991 and accumulated 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.

Laci Effenberger basketball

Laci Effenberger

Laci Effenberger – The former Ketchikan High School basketball star overcame a devastating string of injuries to play a key role on the NCAA D2 Cal State East Bay women’s basketball team. Armed with amazing 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.”

Pride of Alaska Award (female)–For Consistent Excellence in Athletic Competition.

Allie Ostrander (co-winner) – After winning the Pride of Alaska Award in 2015, the Soldotna native outdid herself by breaking her state high school track records in the 1,600 meters and 3,200 meters; 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.

UAA bball women

UAA Women’s Basketball Team (co-winner) – 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.


Pride of Alaska Award (male)–For Consistent Excellence in Athletic Competition.

dallas seaveyDallas Seavey (co-winner) – The Seward native, who has a dog mushing kennel in Willow, won his 4th Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race in five years in 2016, while registering a record time in the historic race. 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.

Soldotna High School football team (co-winner) – 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.

The Directors’ Awards recipients will be honored at a free, family-friendly event from 6-9 p.m. Thursday, July 28th, at the Alaska Airlines Center where the public will be able to meet the honorees. Presentation of the Directors’ Awards will take place on July 29th at the VIP Banquet at the Ted Stevens International Airport.

In addition to the Directors’ Awards winners, all past and current inductees into the Alaska Sports Hall of Fame are invited to the 10-Year Celebration events. Visit http://alaskasportshall.org/10-year-celebration-events/ for more information.

For additional information about the Directors’ Awards and previous winners visit http://alaskasportshall.org/honor/directors-awards/ . Director’s Award recipients will be recognized on a plaque at the Alaska Sports Hall of Fame gallery at the Ted Stevens Anchorage International airport.

The Alaska Sports Hall of Fame Board of Directors are Eric Ohlson (President), Jim Balamaci (Vice President), Chris Myers (Treasurer/Secretary), Matt Carle, Chuck Homan, Nina Kemppel, Gina Luckey, Jason Metrokin and Rick Mystrom. Harlow Robinson is the Executive Director.

March 29, 2016

– From the Cook Inlet Tribal Council newsletter

“Alaska Native games are viewed as a big part of our heritage — not just our sports history, but of our state’s culture.”

NYO events, like the Two-Foot High Kick, reflect traditional contests practiced by Alaska Native people to improve strength, agility, and endurance. NYO will be inducted into the Alaska Sports Hall of Fame on July 29, 2016.

NYO events, like the Two-Foot High Kick, reflect traditional contests practiced by Alaska Native people to improve strength, agility, and endurance. NYO will be inducted into the Alaska Sports Hall of Fame on July 29, 2016.

In 1971, a handful of ninth-grade students, relocated from their villages to Anchorage and searching for a way to stay connected with their homes and culture, entertained themselves by playing traditional games of strength and agility. Those games would lead to the firstNative Youth Olympics (NYO).

Forty-five years later, NYO draws more than 600 students from across the state to compete in traditional Alaska Native games and celebrate Alaska Native culture.

This year, NYO celebrates more than an anniversary. On July 29, NYO will be inducted into theAlaska Sports Hall of Fame.

“Alaska Native games are viewed as a big part of our heritage — not just our sports history, but of our state’s culture,” said Harlow Robinson, the hall of fame’s executive director. “Given that, NYO was considered a great candidate for induction.”

Each year, the Alaska Sports Hall of Fame inducts a small number of individuals, sports moments, and sporting events, voted on by a nine-member panel and a public vote. NYO was the only event chosen for induction this year, joining two individuals — both Olympic track and field athletes — and two sports moments. All five honorees will also be recognized at the hall’s 10-year anniversary celebration, open to the public, on July 28, at the Alaska Airlines Center.

Early inspiration

Life at those 1970s boarding schools was tough. Kids from rural villages found themselves isolated and often homesick for the entire school year. They lived with strange families who didn’t share their culture. Most students eventually dropped out of the program. Those left behind struggled to find something that reminded them of home.

The first NYO, held in the 1970s, was inspired by Alaska Native boarding school students who played games that reminded them of their villages and connected them to their heritage.

The first NYO, held in the 1970s, was inspired by Alaska Native boarding school students who played games that reminded them of their villages and connected them to their heritage.

So they played games like the one-foot high kick and the kneel jump — games that would inspire the first NYO, organized by boarding school teachers and led by Sarah Hanuske, a coordinator for the state’s boarding home program.

When the first NYO was held back in the ’70s, about 100 students traveled to Anchorage from just a dozen schools from cities and villages like Sitka, Nome, and Kotzebue. That first competition lasted only one afternoon, but it radically changed how Alaska Native games were viewed.

“These games aren’t just for Native kids; they’re for all of the kids in Alaska,” said Nicole Johnston, Lead NYO Official. “It’s a competition that breaks down barriers between cultures and shares the traditions of the Native people of Alaska. It brings all kids together to share a friendly, competitive experience.”

Rooted in tradition

Today, NYO — along with its little sister, Junior NYO, in which students in grades one through six compete — impacts more than 2,000 Alaskan youth each year. At NYO, over 50 teams representing more than 100 Alaskan communities flock to Anchorage to demonstrate their physical strength and mental fortitude in events like the Seal Hop, the Alaskan High Kick, and theWrist Carry — games that reflect competitions and exercises practiced by Alaskans over hundreds of years to hone the skills needed to live a subsistence way of life.

For instance, the Seal Hop requires young athletes to bounce on their knuckles and toes, their body parallel to the floor, as they move across the gym. Decades ago, hunters used this movement to stalk seals across the ice, getting as close as possible before harpooning their prey.

The Seal Hop requires the same strength and stamina needed by hunters who stalk seals across the ice.

The Seal Hop requires the same strength and stamina needed by hunters who stalk seals across the ice.

“They’re games that help you stay healthy — physically and mentally preparing you for endurance,” Johnston explained. “They prepare you to be mentally tough, not just for survival back then, but for success today.”

There’s also a game for everyone, she pointed out. Small athletes may excel at the Wrist Carry, which requires a competitor to hang by her wrist from a stick carried over a distance by two teammates, while the Alaskan High Kick requires strength, focus, and balance as athletes balance on one hand while kicking a suspended sealskin ball with one foot.

More than just a game

But the aspect of NYO most commented upon by both participants and spectators is its supportive spirit.

NYO events like the Wrist Carry require teamwork and help build a sense of community that's as important today as it was to survival in ancient Alaska.

NYO events like the Wrist Carry require teamwork and help build a sense of community that’s as important today as it was to survival in ancient Alaska.

“It’s competitive and there are amazing athletes, but there’s so much encouragement and guidance,” Robinson reflected. “There are competitors helping each other out, mentors throughout the gym, older legends of the sport there and accessible and helping all the athletes, regardless of what region of the state they’re from.”

This quality is also rooted in the tradition of the games, said Johnston. “NYO really builds a sense of community and teaches athletes to encourage everyone to do the best they can do. Traditionally, you had to rely on each other to survive. Today, it’s still important because if you don’t have a community that works well together, that community isn’t going to be successful.”

Robinson, who competed in the One-Foot High Kick and the Scissor Broad Jump as a high school student, added that including non-Native students in the games provides an opportunity for kids to share their cultures and grow a greater sense of empathy.

“I’m grateful for the experience in my own childhood, and I’ve always carried that with me,” he said. “I hope all kids in school around our state are being introduced to the games and have that opportunity to learn about and carry on those traditions.”

A survey shows that students who participate in NYO feel motivated to maintain good grades in school and to serve as role models to others.

A survey shows that students who participate in NYO feel motivated to maintain good grades in school and to serve as role models to others.

The impact on all participants of NYO goes beyond cultural literacy and physical health, though. In 1986, Cook Inlet Tribal Council took over hosting the games as part of the organization’s educational services, geared toward equipping young people with the tools they need to reach their potential — and that’s exactly what’s happening at NYO.

A 2015 survey of over 400 students found that 75 percent of NYO athletes felt participating in the games was incentive to stay in school, with 74 percent improving or maintaining good grades to stay involved. Seventy percent also indicated improved self-confidence.

“The selection panel talked about the spirit, camaraderie, and sportsmanship of the games, which are highly competitive, but have an energy and atmosphere you don’t see at most sporting events,” Robinson said of the hall of fame’s final decision to induct NYO. “NYO is unique and special, and that’s another reason it rose to the top.”

December 7, 2015

Arguably Alaska’s greatest runner and the state’s best track and field athlete both went to the Olympics, and now they are headed to the Alaska Sports Hall of Fame.

Don Clary and Janay DeLoach will headline the Class of 2016 induction ceremony this summer along with two moments and an event. The news was made official today by executive director Harlow Robinson.

The Class of 2016 also includes the moment when Anchorage’s Matt Carle won the celebrated Hobey Baker Award as college hockey’s best player in 2006 and when the Special Olympics World Winter Games came to Anchorage in 2001.

The 40-year-old plus Native Youth Olympics was inducted as the event.

The new class will be honored during the Alaska Sports Hall of Fame’s special 10-year celebration event July 29 in Anchorage.

Don Clary
Don ClaryArguably Alaska’s greatest runner, Clary was the first Alaska runner to qualify for the Olympics when he competed at the 1984 Summer Games in Los Angeles.

He advanced to the Olympic semifinals in the 5,000 meters, a moment that is nominated for Alaska Sports Hall of Fame consideration. He qualified by finishing third at the Olympic Trials. Four years earlier he was fifth.

Clary also ran in the 1983 Pan American Games and placed fifth in the 5K race.

In 1986, Clary beat former Boston Marathon winner Alberto Salazar to win the Alaska 10K Classic. The next year he set the course record of 28:35 – a mark that still stands today.

In college, Clary was a four-time NCAA All-American at the University of Oregon and member of school’s 1977 cross country team that captured the national championship. He was also a Pac-10 champion.

At East Anchorage High School, he won two state cross country titles and set an Alaska prep record in the two-mile run [9:04.04] that has stood for nearly 40 years.

Janay DeLoach
Janay Deloach Track and FieldThe greatest track and field athlete in Alaska history, DeLoach is one of the most successful long jumpers on the planet with four US championships, a Worlds silver medal and an Olympic bronze medal from the 2012 Games.

A broken left ankle in 2013 forced her to abandon her traditional takeoff and switch to using her right leg. She still qualified for the World Championships and became first woman to jump 6.95 meters off either leg.

In 2014, DeLoach qualified for Worlds in the 60-meter hurdles after a second-place finish at the US Championships. That year she won hurdles races at the Millrose Games and Boston Grand Prix.

She was a 4-time NCAA All-American at Colorado State University.

At Eielson High School near Fairbanks, DeLoach was a 4-time long jump state champion and still holds the Alaska state record of 19-5.

Moment[s]
Matt CarleWhen Anchorage’s Matt Carle won the Hobey Baker Award in 2006 as college hockey’s best player he became the only Alaskan and first University of Denver player to do so.

Carle, a junior defenseman, led the nation in assists [42] that season and was No. 1 among defensemen in points [53].

He also was selected the Western Collegiate Hockey Association’s Player of the Year and Defensive Player of the Year — a first in league history.

The 2001 Special Olympics World Winter Games invigorated Anchorage with the largest international sporting event ever staged in Alaska.

More than 1,800 Special Olympians competed in seven different events at venues throughout the city.

Event
NYOThe Native Youth Olympics started in 1971 and features a variety of traditional Native games that test an athlete’s strength, courage and discipline.

Native games had long been a custom in rural Alaska before the NYO competition was founded by a group of Anchorage teachers organized by Sarah Hanuske, a coordinator for the state’s boarding home program.

The idea of creating a statewide competition was to give the relocated students living with strangers in Anchorage a taste of home because prior to NYO they had no real connection with where they came from during the school year.

The inaugural NYO featured a dozen and took one afternoon and featured 100 students.

Now it reaches out to more than 2,000 kids, making it so large NYO created a junior and senior competition lasting three days each.

October 30, 2015

Click here to read the fall 2015 edition of AKtive

Welcome to our first newsletter!

Our story goes back more than a decade.

In 2004, the founders of the Alaska Sports Hall of Fame (Brad Precosky, Chris Myers and myself ) wanted to do more than put plaques on a wall. We intended for Teach, Honor, Inspire to be a mission statement that promoted Alaska sports in a meaningful way.

Around the same time, Bonny Sosa and Sam Young were concerned about the growing obesity epidemic in Alaska and decided to develop a program that empowered Alaska’s youth to build the habit of daily physical activity.

In 2006, ASHOF teamed with Healthy Futures on the Healthy Heroes project, which provided Alaska’s youth with access to positive athletic role models. Years of collaborations followed. The organizations merged in 2011 when Healthy Futures became the signature program of the ASHOF.

Despite some tough times, we’ve managed to stay the course. Bonny was a beloved figure and respected leader; her death in 2009 was a crushing loss, but others- foremost Cindy Norquest – stepped in to fill the void. And while some funding sources dried up, others joined the cause.

As I write this, the Alaska Sports Hall of Fame is preparing to induct its tenth class of people, moments and events at a celebration next summer attended by all ten years of inductees. The Alaska Sports Blog has cranked out more than 2,500 stories on Alaskan athletes. The enshrinement gallery at the Anchorage airport is full, and we are discussing expansion.

Nearly 20,000 children from more than 200 schools now participate in the Healthy Futures Challenge every fall and spring. By comparison, only 1,342 youth and 36 schools completed the Spring 2011 Challenge!

Healthy Futures now supports more than 100 events that promote a healthy youth population. We are expanding programming to include middle schoolers and are studying the effectiveness of wearable device technology (the Sqord) on children’s exercise habits.

Volunteers working in coffee shops and using storage lockers once managed our organization. Now we have a talented and dedicated staff, an office, a warehouse and an army of volunteers and advocates across Alaska.

It’s been a great journey. The relationships built with so many amazing people and organizations fill the heart with gratitude. The days when someone tells us that we made a difference are rewarding.

We’ll dedicate these pages not only to updates from our desk, but to shining a light on the many who are providing vital help along the way. Thanks for reading!

-Harlow Robinson, Executive Director

March 5, 2015

Alaska Sports Hall of Fame LogoDick Mize just wanted a place for kids to ski. John Brown just wanted to play basketball. Michaela Hutchison was just following in her family’s footsteps.

What started as small ideas turned into something big.

Mize, Brown and Hutchison joined Nancy Pease and the Iron Dog to make up the Class of 2015 for the Alaska Sports Hall of Fame.

Those five, plus the recipients of four Directors Awards, were honored Thursday night at the Anchorage Museum.

“It’s a huge honor,” said Mize, the revolutionary designer of nordic ski trails in Anchorage. “The Alaska Sports Hall of Fame is one of those things you look up to, but you don’t think too much about being there yourself until it happens. I’m real honored to be there.”

The evening was a celebration of awesome athletic achievement. Brown was the first Alaskan to win four consecutive high school basketball state titles, and he averaged a double-double in his junior and senior seasons. Hutchison was the first high school girl in the country to beat boys for a wrestling state title. Pease was a magnificent, record-setting mountain runner who collected 20 titles in Mount Marathon, Crow Pass and Bird Ridge.

Mize didn’t set out to be a game changer. He started building trails in 1958 in Arctic Valley and from there took a leading role in developing a maze of ski trails Russian Jack, Kincaid Park and Hillside.

“I just finished my last one here about a year ago when we finished up with the Kincaid Project Group,” Mize said.

Brown was in eighth grade when he watched Ketchikan lose the state championship game and he vowed to lead the Kings back to the top of Alaska basketball. That’s exactly what he did, leading the Kings to titles in 1965, 1966, 1967 and 1968.

“All I can say is I loved playing basketball. If I hadn’t won anything, it wouldn’t make a difference,” he said. “I was fortunate in that I played on four great teams in a great program. It’s just a validation of what we accomplished as a group. It was kind of cool.”

Pease stopped running competitively years ago, but she is still the undisputed queen of the mountain. She was untouchable during her reign in the 1980s and 1990s, but nothing was quite like 1990, when she set records at Mount Marathon and Crow Pass and was the overall winner at Bird Ridge, beating the men’s winner by more than 90 seconds.
Pease, Brown and Mize were inducted into the Hall of Fame as individuals, and Hutchison and her 2006 wrestling championship was selected to be enshrined as a moment.

The Iron Dog was honored as an event. The race began in 1984 as a 1,000-mile snowmachine race from Big Lake to Nome. It has since expanded to 2,000 miles, going from Anchorage to Nome to Fairbanks.

“Me and a couple guys sat down and threw a bunch of maps out on the floor and tried to figure out where we’re going to go,” said co-founder Jim Wilke. “We didn’t really have a clear picture at the time, but the theory was we were looking for a route of 1,000 miles give or take.”

Thursday’s event also honored this year’s winners of the Directors Awards:

• The Joe Floyd Award for Significant and Lasting Contribution was given to UAA track and cross country coach Michael Friess.

• The Trajan Langdon Award for Leadership, Sportsmanship and Inspiration went to Two Rivers musher Aliy Zirkle, who has placed second in the last three Iditarods.

• The Pride of Alaska Awards for Consistent Excellence in Athletic Competition (male and female) went to Alaska Pacific University ski coach Erik Flora and Kenai runner Allie Ostrander.

February 16, 2015

George Attla, the “Huslia Hustler” whose mushing achievements made him an Alaska rock star during the 1960s, ’70s and ’80s, died Sunday at the Alaska Native Medical Center in Anchorage.

He was 81, and beloved across the state.

“May my Dad rest in peace,” Amanda Attla wrote on her Facebook page Sunday evening. “He’s at his happy hunting grounds. There’s a party goin on up there. Right after he passed the biggest shooting star came down. He made it. My mom told me so.”

Attla, an Athabascan who lived in the Interior village of Huslia until his hospitalization with bone cancer last month, gained fame and legions of fans with a sprint mushing career that began in 1958 and ended in 2011.

Over the course of those 54 years, he captured a record 10 Fur Rendezvous World Championship titles and eight North American Open Championship titles.

In an era before the Iditarod was created in 1974, sprint mushing was king in Alaska, and no one had a longer or more popular reign than Attla.

He captivated fans with his underdog story — childhood tuberculosis left him with a lame leg — his fierce competitive spirit and his intense yet respectful rivalry with Roland “Doc” Lombard.

When Lombard, an East Coast musher who for years was Attla’s chief nemesis, died in 1990, Attla reflected on the inevitable.

“The time gets the best of you,” he told the Anchorage Daily News. “You just hold it off as best you can.”

Attla held it off better than most.

He drove his last dog team a year ago, while helping a young Huslia musher named Trevor Henry prepare for the 2014 Arctic Winter Games. The dogs were coming off the Junior North American in Fairbanks two weekends earlier, and Attla “wanted to be sure the dogs were mentally ready to race again,” his partner Kathy Turco said recently.

“His last time on a sled was for youth, not himself,” she said.

In one of his final interviews, Attla earlier this month said he was building a cabin in Huslia last fall when the effects of the cancer made it impossible to continue the task.

“I got to where I couldn’t move anything,” he said.

Attla remained in Huslia through the New Year in order to watch the village’s annual holiday races. Among those racing was Joe Bifelt, a grand-nephew who picked up the sport as part of the Frank Attla Youth and Sled Dog Care Mushing Program offered to middle and high school students in Huslia. Attla and Turco helped start the program in honor of Attla’s son Frank, who died at age 21 in 2010.

Born in 1933 in Interior Alaska, Attla grew into a nearly mythical figure. His story was turned into a movie, “Spirit of the Wind,” which won the 1979 best picture award at the Sundance Film Festival.

The son of a famous Koyukuk River trapper, George Attla Sr., a young George Jr. contracted tuberculosis as a child and spent nearly a decade in and out of hospitals.

The disease left him with a fused knee and a permanently stiff leg, but that didn’t handicap Attla. He won his first major championship at the 1958 Fur Rendezvous in Anchorage at age 25. He won his last major title at the 1987 North American Open in Fairbanks at age 53.

Known and respected for his dog care and his instinctive ability to raise and race sled dogs, Attla in 1972 co-wrote “Everything I Know About Training and Racing Sled Dogs,” which remains a must-read for many mushers. In it, he explained the philosophy that turned him into a champion.

“The dog never makes a mistake,” Attla wrote. “He is just a dog and he does what he does because he is a dog and thinks like a dog. It is you that makes the mistake because you haven’t trained him to do what you want him to do when you want him to do it.”

In 2007, Attla was inducted as an inaugural member of the Alaska Sports Hall of Fame. He was the first of five athletes to be introduced at the induction ceremony, and he earned a spontaneous, heartfelt standing ovation that lasted for minutes.

“That shows the love the people of Alaska have for you, George,” announcer Rick Mystrom said when the applause finally faded.

– by Beth Bragg in the Alaska Dispatch News 

February 3, 2015

Alaska Sports Hall of Fame LogoThe Alaska Sports Hall of Fame is proud that so many Alaskan athletes agreed to join community members and organizations to stand united against domestic violence and child abuse.

Thank you to Hall of Fame inductees Mario Chalmers , Scott Gomez, Trajan Langdon, Kikkan Randall, Mark Schlereth and AK athletes Damen Bell-Holter, Matt Carle, Alev Kelter,Lauren Murphy, David Registe,  Ma’o Tosi and Aliy Zirkle.

Here is a special letter circulating the state:

By Jan Rutherdale and Lauree Morton

As 2014 drew to a close, we reflected back on a year in which the limelight of professional sports shifted, at least briefly, from shining on game-day heroics by incredible athletes to putting a spotlight on two terrible acts of domestic violence and child abuse. The glaring media focus on these acts has already dimmed and predictably returned back to the stadium, but it served the purpose of shining a light, for all of America, on the chronic and intertwined problems of domestic violence and child abuse. It is up to all of us to not let the illumination on these twin social epidemics fade back into unspoken darkness — as we look ahead to a brighter 2015, Alaska’s professional athletes come together with community members in committing to stand united against domestic violence and child abuse, all across our great state. The following athletes are proud to join in this commitment with all Alaskans:

Carlos Boozer — NBA player
Matt Carle — NHL player
Alev Kelter — member of Team USA’s women’s rugby
Mario Chalmers* — NBA player
David Registe — national champion long jumper
Lauren Murphy — world top-ten UFC fighter
Damen Bell-Holter — professional basketball player
Scott Gomez* — NHL player
Trajan Langdon* — former professional basketball player
Kikkan Randall* — Olympic cross-country skier
Mark Schlereth* — former NFL player
Ma’o Tosi — former NFL player
Aliy Zirkle — Iditarod musher
(* — Alaska Sports Hall of Fame inductee)

Although it is cliché, the phrase “behind closed doors” really does help explain why domestic violence and child abuse are not discussed out in the open more often, since these incidents most often occur out of our sight. In 2014, however, a now-notorious act of domestic violence occurred behind doors which were designed not to remain closed — elevator doors. When the doors tried to close, they sensed the prone and unconscious body of a woman who had been knocked unconscious by a single blow to the head from her fiancé — and the doors automatically reopened. Thus, this horrible domestic violence assault could not remain “behind closed doors,” as would typically happen, and, for a time, the attention of the media and general public was concentrated on the pervasive issue of domestic violence in our society.

Likewise, a pro athlete father having physically abused his young son by hitting him with a stick and inflicting severe injury, under the guise of “corporal punishment,” brought out into the media spotlight the widespread and long-standing problem of child abuse, both physical and mental. It is clear that he believed he was “disciplining” his son the same way that he had been “disciplined” as a child, i.e., hitting a child’s bare skin with a tree branch “switch” resulting in acute, lingering physical injury.

Alaska’s pro athletes know why it’s more important than ever for us to stand together against domestic violence and child abuse as we look ahead to make a change for the better in 2015 — Alaska’s past statistics about these issues are more than chilling: 48 out of every 100 women have experienced intimate partner violence and, in 2012 alone, the Office of Children’s Services received 16,988 reports of concern for child abuse with 7,048 reports “screened in” for investigation.

Please join us in 2015, and beyond, by being part of Alaska’s star team of athletes and community members standing united against domestic violence and child abuse!

Jan Rutherdale is Chair of Alaska’s Children’s Justice Act (CJA) Taskforce, federally mandated to improve the handling of child abuse and neglect cases, particularly cases of child sexual abuse and exploitation. Lauree Morton is the Executive Director of the Alaska Council on Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault (CDVSA), whose mission is to provide safety for Alaskans victimized or impacted by domestic violence and sexual assault. CJA and CDVSA wish to thank Harlow Robinson, Executive Director of the Alaska Sports Hall of Fame, for his assistance and all of the pro athletes who lent their support.

February 2, 2015

The Alaska Sports Hall of Fame ceremony to honor the Class of 2015 inductees and annual Directors’ Awards winners will take place tonight at the Anchorage Museum auditorium at 625 C Street in downtown Anchorage.  The event, which is free and open to the public, will be from 7:30-9pm with a receiving-line reception to follow in the museum atrium.

In the case of overflow seating in the auditorium, there will be a catered live-stream viewing of the event in the atrium with a hosted bar.

The induction class includes Olympic biathlete and Anchorage Nordic Skiing pioneer Dick Mize,  Ketchikan basketball icon John Brown, and Mountain running legend Nancy Pease.  Soldotna’s Michaela Hutchison’s groundbreaking state wrestling championship in 2006, to become the first girl in the nation to win an outright high school wrestling will be honored in the “Moment” category. The grueling Iron Dog snowmobile will be recognized in the “Event” category.

Two coaches who have built championship programs and two female athletes with tremendous resumes and quality characters make up the 2015 Directors’ Awards class.  Directors’ Awards recipients are selected by the Alaska Sports Hall of Fame board of directors.  Inductees are selected by a selection panel of sports-related experts from around the state in conjunction with a public vote.

Class of 2015 Inductees

Dick Mize

Dick Mize Nordic SkiHe was a member of the first United States Olympic biathlete  squad at the 1960 Squaw Valley Games.  As a cross country ski racer Dick was one of the nation’s best and he didn’t seem to ever slow down, winning several U.S. Master’s Championships and setting age-group records well into his 70’s.  He might be better known for his work off his skis though. Mize helped design and construct multiple ski trails at Kincaid Park, Hillside, Russian Jack and in Girdwood. Some even bear his name. He was inducted into the Alaska High School Hall of Fame in 2011.

Nancy Pease

NancyPeaseShe stopped running competitively years ago, but Pease is still the undisputed queen of the mountain. During her reign in the 1980s and 1990s, she sometimes beat the men outright, winning the overall Bird Ridge race in 1990 and sharing the Crow Pass Crossing title with Bill Spencer that same year. She won Mount Marathon six times, Crow Pass eight times and Bird Ridge five times, and she set course records in all three races – all of which still stand today.

John Brown

John Brown BasketballHe wasn’t that tall, but John Brown played big. The 6-foot-2, 150-pounder dominated action under the basket with legendary skill and was widely recognized as the top player in Alaska in the 1960s. He became a hoops hero at Ketchikan when he became the first player in Alaska to play on four straight high school champion basketball teams in 1965, 1966, 1967 and 1968. He later played at Seattle University. He was named on Sports Illustrated’s list of Alaska’s top 50 greatest 20th-century athletes.

Michaela Hutchison Beats the Boys in 2006 (Moment Category)

hutchison-bossLed by chants of “Girl Power,” Skyview High School sophomore Michaela Hutchison made history when she earned a thrilling 1-0 victory over Colony’s Aaron Boss in the 103-pound final to become the first girl wrestler in the nation to win a state title against boys. Hutchison entered the tournament ranked No. 1 in her weight class and completed her historic run by scoring an escape with 16 seconds left in the match.

Iron Dog (Event Category)

Iron DogAt 2,031 miles. the Iron Dog is the longest and toughest snowmobile race in the world. The event began in 1984 as a 1,000-mile race from Big Lake to Nome. It was doubled to the current distance at the 10th annual race in 1994 and now goes from Big Lake to Nome to Fairbanks. In 2015, the race will have a ceremonial start in downtown Anchorage for the first time.

The 2015 Directors’ Awards Recipients

Joe Floyd Award–For Significant and Lasting Contribution to Alaska through Sports. Mike Friess 2 

Michael Friess –  For the past quarter century as head coach at the University of Alaska Anchorage, 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. If that wasn’t enough, he also directs the Mayor’s Marathon and Crow Pass Crossing.

 

Trajan Langdon AwardFor Leadership, Sportsmanship and Inspiration. 

Copy of AliyZirkle2-copyAliy ZirkleNobody 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. She 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. After being caught in the eye of a brutal storm, Zirkle nearly chased down eventual winner Dallas Seavey, losing by a mere 2½ minutes in one of the most dramatic finishes in the race’s 40-year history.

 

Pride of Alaska Award (female)-For Consistent Excellence in Athletic Competition. 

 Allie-Ostrander-2_fullAllie OstranderThis tiny titan of a runner turned 2014 into one of the most dominating seasons in Alaska running history. The Kenai High School standout shattered state records in the 1,600 and 3,200 meters on the track and in cross country, and won her third straight state championship.  In December she 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.

Pride of Alaska Award (male)–For Consistent Excellence in Athletic Competition. 

Erik-Flora-286x180Erik Flora As director of the Alaska Pacific University Nordic ski program, Flora has done more than just develop Olympians. He has helped build the gold standard for American Nordic skiing and has elevated American skiers to new levels of international success. He coached to APU/US Ski Team athlete Kikkan Randall to the first female World Cup Gold Medal to make US Skiing History.  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. It was an overdue honor because for years Flora has been tied to our country’s top talent, most notably Randall, but several others that have won national championships and made podiums internationally.

Director’s Award recipients will be recognized on a plaque at the Alaska Sports Hall of Fame gallery at the Ted Stevens Anchorage International airport.

Contact the Alaska Sports Hall of Fame at info@alaskasportshall.org with questions.