Allie Ostrander speaks to the crowd at Tuesday’s Alaska Sports Hall of Fame ceremony. Photo by Jim Kohl

From the Alaska Sports Report, by Matt Nevala, with photos from Jim Kohl Photography

In the span of about 105 minutes Tuesday night, a majestic magic seemingly only afforded to Alaskans unfolded inside the Anchorage Museum.

Tales of adversity and triumph brought forth a handful of standing ovations. A former governor sat beside current and one-time mayors, all equally amazed by what their fellow citizens of the 49th state achieved at all levels of sport.

Here, there and everywhere.

“Look at the fertile soil from which all these Alaska athletes come from,” Dallas Seavey said in the final moments of his speech

The record-setting, six-time Iditarod champion implored those in attendance for the 16th annual Alaska Sports Hall of Fame induction ceremony. He told them to look around the room and appreciate everything the evening’s story told.

“Always be the best version of yourself,” Seavey said.

Seavey joined running trailblazer Allie Ostrander and Special Olympic world-champion powerlifter and so much more Bobby Hill as the Hall’s members Nos. 45, 46 and 47.

Hill’s inclusion made Hall history.

“Thanks to the Hall for including us,” said Bobby’s dad Bob, as Hill is the first Special Olympian recognized individually.

Bob and Bobby Hill at Tuesday’s Alaska Sports Hall of Fame ceremony. Photo by Jim Kohl

Born in May 1979, Hill was diagnosed at birth with Down Syndrome. Since then, he’s made more than a name for himself as not only a Special Olympic champion but also the longtime manager for the Bartlett High football team and as a charter member of the Alaska Aces hockey team’s Hall of Fame.

Unsolicited, Hill ended his time Tuesday by once again performing his “Horseman” routine as the “William Tell Overture” played. As though riding his favorite horse while running throughout the room, Hill delighted the audience as he has done for decades with hockey crowds.

Another honoree included the moment hockey legend Scott Gomez won the NHL’s Calder Memorial Award of Rookie of the Year in 2000. Others honored included the Hall’s Directors’ mentions for Pride of Alaska for consistent excellence in current athletic competition, Trajan Langdon award for leadership, sportsmanship and inspiration and the Joe Floyd award for significant and lasting contribution to Alaska through sports.

Doug Keil receives a standing ovation. Photo by Jim Kohl

Challenge Alaska founder and Paralympics champion Doug Keil rightfully won the Floyd award.

“Very humbling,” Keil, 70, said during a conversation earlier Tuesday.

Keil lost an arm and a leg at age 14 when he was electrocuted while exploring an old gold mine in Juneau. A deep depression set in soon after. His parents urged him to make a 1975 trip to Colorado, which is where he discovered adaptive skiing.

“I remember that wind in your hair, I was moving,” Keil said of that time so many years ago. “I was no longer sitting still in a wheelchair. It was the movement. It was fun. It was snow.”

Eventually, Keil returned to Alaska and created Challenge Alaska. In the years since, the non-profit has provided athletic opportunities for thousands of disabled Alaskans in a myriad of sports. The impact has been staggering.

“It’s taken a community from Petersburg to Barrow, from Bethel to the Aleutian Islands to create what we’ve done,” he said.

The Petersburg boys basketball team accepts the Trajan Langdon Award. Photo by Jim Kohl

2024 Alaska Sports Hall of Fame
16th Annual Induction Ceremony
At the Anchorage Museum
Class Induction

Bobby Hill
Allie Ostrander
Dallas Seavey
Scott Gomez named 2000 NHL Rookie of the Year
Directors’ Awards
Pride of Alaska (Youth)

PJ Foy
Emily Robinson
Pride of Alaska (Adult)
Alissa Pili
Gus Schumacher
Trajan Langdon Award (Youth)
Petersburg High Boys Basketball Team
Trajan Langdon Award (Adult)
Tyson Gilbert
Joe Floyd Award
Doug Keil


*From Pride of Alaska winner PJ Foy’s choice of Led Zeppelin’s “Immigrant Song” and its land of the ice and snow to Ostrander’s choosing or Gwen Stefani’s “Hollaback Girl” just for fun, the Hall asked inductees to choose a hype song to bring them up. Kudos on the decision.

*Keil came to the stage with the assistance of the late, great Toby Keith’s “Should’ve been a Cowboy.” Pride of Alaska male adult winner and skiing champ Gus Schumacher approached the stage while the all-mighty Rush classic “Tom Sawyer” blared proudly.

*All-everything Alaskan Alissa Pili won the Pride of Alaska female adult award for the second consecutive year. She also won the accolade as a high school youth. She couldn’t make the ceremony after having been drafted eight overall by the Minnesota Lynx in the WNBA Draft a few weeks back. But her family showed up Tuesday. Mother Heather accepted the award on behalf of Alissa – No. 35 for the Lynx if you’re shopping online.

*Most of the UAA men’s basketball team was in attendance to see their teammate and captain receive the adult Trajan Langdon Award. Tyson spoke about drawing inspiration while he recovered from open-heart surgery from a four-year-old boy named Quinn who was going through similar challenges with a smile and positive attitude. He talked about how he drew from Quinn’s example as he recovered from his heart and then a torn Achilles to finally return to the court and help lead the Seawolves to the NCAA national tournament.

*Credit should go to Alaska News Source’s Jordan Rodenberger for putting together the ceremony’s videos. Schumacher’s tribute included the added superior touches of current high school skiing stars Murphy Kimball and Elias Soule, who described Schumacher’s influence.

Gus Schumacher at the Alaska Sports Hall of Fame ceremony. Photo by Jim Kohl