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

For a person or group of people who have, over a period of years, made a significant and lasting contribution to sports in Alaska. This contribution could be for a particular sport, for multiple sports, for a particular town or area and for participants or spectators. For achievement over multiple years with priority given to more recent years.

Award Recipients

Doug Keil

Doug KeilKeil founded Challenge Alaska more than 40 years ago, and since then the nonprofit has provided athletic opportunities for thousands of disabled Alaskans. He lost an arm and a leg at age 14 when he was electrocuted while exploring an old gold mine in Juneau, and depression set in until a 1975 trip to Colorado, where he discovered adaptive skiing. At the 1980 Paralympics in Norway, he won gold medals in slalom and giant slalom and he returned home eager to make adaptive sports available to Alaskans. He started Challenge Alaska that year and incorporated it in 1982, and his impact has been staggering. He has been honored with numerous awards over the years, and the Keil Center at Alyeska — a 4,400-square-foot facility that offers adaptive ski and snowboard lessons — is named for him and his family. 

Kathleen Navarre

Navarre coached basketball, volleyball, flag football and track over the past 20 years at Kodiak High School and Dimond High School and has guided multiple teams to state championships. The former athletic director and event director for numerous local and statewide high school sporting events, Navarre now helps organize events like the Alaska March Madness basketball tournament for the Alaska School Activities Association. “Kathleen’s impact on the Alaska sports community is far reaching. From Kodiak to Anchorage and all points in between, prep sports happen because she is who she is. A tireless advocate for everything good about scholastic sports, Kathleen has done it all. She’s been a teacher, coach, tournament director, director of operations and more,” her nomination reads.

Beth Bragg

Bragg retired in 2021 after 35 years at the Anchorage Daily News mostly as a sports writer. She produced 6,735 articles that carried her byline, and thousands more that didn’t. She attended four Olympics, supported her colleagues as a fine editor, and brought to life Alaskan athletes of all levels with insightful and skillful reporting and story-telling. As a  female journalist she worked hard to ensure female athletes and teams were given the coverage they deserved.  they deserved.

Richard Knowles

Knowles initially sponsored youth teams in Kodiak, then moved up to coaching them. His passion became girls softball in Anchorage, and he’s won state titles at East Anchorage High School and coached numerous teams to Little League World Series appearances. Many of his athletes have earned college scholarships. Said one nominator: “Richard has the uncanny ability to take a group of young ladies with different skill sets and get them to play together as a team. He teaches them that no matter their situation, they can accomplish great things when they work hard, play together, and above all else have fun. It is a gift and both of my girls are better off by having Richard Knowles as their coach and mentor.”

Cristy Hickel

Hickel’s life’s goal is to help our youth succeed. She founded SPYDER Soccer 30 years ago and has provided opportunities in sports leagues to thousands of Alaska youth. She also coaches the Alaska All-Stars nationals-bound Under-16 and Under-19 girls hockey teams and has helped more than 200 young women reach the college hockey level.

Brush Christiansen

Christiansen helped start the UAA hockey program and coached the team to a 287-229-30 record from 1979-96. His biggest success was leading the Seawolves to the quarterfinals of the  1991 NCAA Tournament in just their sixth season of Division I play. His 287 career wins is more than the other five UAA coaches combined and his .533 career winning percentage is 214 points better than next highest. Christiansen has remained active in Anchorage’s hockey community for decades, coaching at youth levels, and helping put on camps and clinics.

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.

Ma’o Tosi

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

Dennis Sorenson

After a prolific career at UAA in the early 1980s, the two-time, first-team All-American began coaching youth hockey in Anchorage. His Bantam team was the first Alaska squad to win a USA Hockey Tier I national championship. He has coached at Dimond High School since 1991 and accumulated more than 500 wins — nearly twice the number of the second-place coach. He has led his team to four state championships and many of his players have gone on to college and professional hockey careers.

Michael Friess

For the past quarter century as head coach at the University of Alaska Anchorage, Michael Friess has built the men’s and women’s track and field and cross country programs into national collegiate powerhouses and has raised the popularity and visibility of the university. The numbers are staggering under his tutelage – 17 Coach of the Year honors, 12 league titles, 5 NCAA champions, 62 All- Americans. In the classroom, his athletes have earned nearly 200 academic All-Conference awards. If that wasn’t enough, he also directs the Mayor’s Marathon and Crow Pass Crossing.

Dick Mize

Dick Mize came to Alaska to serve at Fort Richardson, discovered biathlon and then competed in the 1960 Olympics. He was a longtime local teacher and principal as well as cross-country running and skiing coach at Dimond High School. A  pioneer for Nordic skiing and biathlon in Alaska, he helped design and construct local trails such as Kincaid Park and Hillside. A World Masters ski champion, Mize remains involved in the local ski scene, both as a racer and a volunteer, and can still be spotted on his namesake loop at Kincaid.

Don Dennis

Since Don Dennis took over as general manager of the Alaska Goldpanners in 1967 the club has become the most successful team in amateur baseball history. Dennis was also responsible for the development and growth of the entire Alaska Baseball League.  Now the team’s chief operating officer, he has faithfully guided the Goldpanners through 50 years of executive operations. Dennis continues to be highly regarded as a mentor and business leader in the Alaskan community and throughout the baseball world.



Steve Nerland and Don Winchester

Together and individually, Steve Nerland and Don Winchester have,  over the past 25 years, made significant contributions to Alaska through sports.  Together they were the driving force behind the successful effort to obtain funding to design and build a new sports arena at UAA.  Individually they lead numerous efforts including building the Dimond High Football Stadium, upgrading the Mulcahy Baseball Park and developing the South Anchorage Baseball Parks.