March 23, 2020

Our Healthy Futures program is kicking off 100 Miles in May a month early to encourage physical activity and social interaction – two critical needs at the moment.

Sports teams, whether high school, club, adult league, etc., can sign up their group in the sports team category. Besides sports teams, families, friends, and workplaces can make teams. Or fly solo. This is a great wellness and morale resource intended to keep people moving. Anyone can do it.

With the coronavirus pandemic canceling sports and forcing people to stay at home, there never has been a better time for this campaign.

“Stay Active, Stay Social: That’s the message right now,” said Alaska Sports Hall of Fame executive director Harlow Robinson. “This is normally a fundraiser for us – an important one – but that is far from my mind right now. Pledging is optional and we have a hardship link.”

The 100 Mile in May challenge is a fun and interactive, and all activities convert into miles. People can track their progress and their team’s progress on leaderboards and provide encouragement or friendly smack talking in the 100 Miles in May Facebook Group.

“Our hearts go out to all the kids on sports teams right now, given the massive cancellations,” Robinson said. “We want to provide this as a way to keep kids focused and moving and not get discouraged. A little friendly competition will be healthy right now.”

Pledging is optional this year. Sitting around is not.

We’ll hold a challenge in both April and May. Totals and leaderboards will reset May 1.

Register here

Start a team or join a team. Click on the ‘Send Invite’ button on your team page and invite others. Challenge others to make their own teams and join the fun.

March 16, 2020

Unfortunately given the CDC’s recommendations for crowd sizes and the closure of Anchorage facilities for the near future due to the Coronavirus we’ll be postponing our ceremony scheduled for April 28th. We look forward to putting on a great event in the future once the time is right. Please follow our Facebook page or this website for updates.

February 13, 2020

Everybody gets knocked down in life. The secret to success is getting back up.

It’s far from easy, but overcoming adversity can strengthen a person’s drive to be great.

Off-the-field tragedies can push an athlete on the field, and rather than shutting down, they turn it up.

Alaska sports stars Dominick Meriweather, DaJonee Hale, Denali Strabel and Jalil Abdul-Bassit know all too well the story of redemption and will share their inspiring stories at the fifth annual PLAAY Summit.

PLAAY stands for Positive Leadership for Active Alaska Youth and is an initiative of the Alaska Sports Hall of Fame. The PLAAY Summit is an accredited conference and every year features a panel of Alaskan athletes providing their insights on youth physical, emotional and mental health topics.

This year’s panel topic is adversity and members will discuss the roles mentors and sports played in helping them navigate difficult personal circumstances.

The panel discussion, led by moderator Eric Boyer, will take place Saturday from Noon to 1 p.m. at the Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium Building at 4000 Ambassador Drive.

The general public is welcome to walk in for the panel discussion as well as the Keynote Address provided by Alaska Department of Health and Social Services Commissioner Adam Crum.

Dominick Meriweather

Despite the violent nature of MMA, the sport brings out the softer side in many fighters. Dominick Meriweather is no different. Raised by an abusive father, and watching his mother struggle to help her family survive, he lived with rage and carried it everywhere. He needed an outlet. He got involved with mixed martial arts in Anchorage. A formula of training, discipline and structure did wonders. His attitude on life shifted. Confidence replaced doubt, peace overcame fury.

DaJonee Hale

From long shot to hot shot, DaJonee Hale went from being a troubled teen in Anchorage to NAIA National Player of the Year at Central Methodist University in Missouri. Hale was once homeless and hopeless as a teenager before getting a second lease on life, thanks to Michelle Overstreet of MyHouse, an Alaska organization dedicated to ending homelessness. “I can’t thank her enough,” said Hale, who recently wrapped up her first pro season in Germany.

Denali Strabel

Denali Strabel has been open about her past struggles with substance abuse and the path of self destruction she was taking during her days as a college athlete.  The Seward native now finds satisfaction in mountain racing all over the world, coaching women groups and kids running, and her job in the Special Education Department. She has gone on to become one of Alaska’s top mountain runners and participated at the Skyrunning World Championship in 2019.

Jalil Abdul-Bassit

Jalil Abdul-Bassit

Jalil Abdul-Bassit overcame numerous hardships to become one of Alaska’s most successful basketball players. His mother was murdered when he was a young boy in Anchorage and his father was incarcerated through much of his childhood. Extended family and coaches helped him navigate personal tragedy and basketball provided an outlet. Abdul-Bassit went on to star at the University of Oregon and played professionally in Australia, Mexico and Albania.

To read more about PLAAY Summit, please click here.

February 10, 2020

The 2020 PLAAY  (Positive Leadership for Active Alaska Youth) initiative kicks off Friday, Feb. 14th with the 5th annual PLAAY Summit and concludes on Feb. 20th with a visit with the fastest swimmer on the planet!

The PLAAY Summit is an accredited conference featuring a panel of experts on youth physical, emotional and mental health topics.  A panel of Alaskan athletes including Jalil Abdul-Bassit, DaJonee Hale, and Dom Meriweather will discuss the role of leadership and sports in overcoming personal adversity.   For more information and registration visit https://plaay.org/plaay-summit/.  Join our PLAAY Summit Facebook Event page here.

PLAAY Day is Alaska’s first synchronized physical activity event.  Working to galvanize communities around the importance of living physically active lifestyles,  thousands of children from across Alaska and from as far away as New Zealand will join together Feb. 20th, 10-10:30 a.m.  AST through a live stream in a half hour of simultaneous physical activity.  Schools and businesses can register and join in the fun at https://plaay.org/plaay-day/ Join our PLAAY Day Facebook Event page here.

Special guest and Olympic swimming legend  Anthony Ervin will be on hand for PLAAY Day and then will be at the Alaska Pacific University Atwood Hall at 7 p.m.  After winning Olympic gold in 2000 Ervin spent more than a decade on a path of exploration and often-times self-destruction.  He overcame struggles with depression and suicidal thoughts to return to the pool and swim faster than ever at the 2016 Olympics, becoming the oldest swimmer to win a gold medal in an individual event.   The event is free and open to the public.  For more information visit our Facebook Event page here.

December 12, 2019

Running pioneer Marcie Trent and hockey professional Matt Carle will headline the Class of 2020 inductions into the Alaska Sports Hall of Fame.

Trent and Carle were the lone selections from the people category and will be joined by the Yukon 800 riverboat race from the event category and the University of Alaska Anchorage’s stunning upset of Boston College in the 1991 NCAA Hockey Tournament from the moment category.

This will be the 14th class honored by the Hall, which uses a selection process based on votes from the Alaska Sports Hall of Fame selection panel, past inductees and the public.

“We’re thrilled with this class and look forward to welcoming them to the Hall,” said Alaska Sports Hall of Fame executive director Harlow Robinson. “Hockey and motor sports are Alaskan sports to the core and this class represents both well. And Marcie Trent is an absolute legend in masters running on the national level so this type of honor here at home is well-deserved.”

The Class of 2020 induction ceremony will be Tuesday, April 28 at the Anchorage Museum.

The white-haired Trent, who weighed about 100 pounds and stood barely 5 feet tall, was a huge inspiration to the Alaskan running community after picking up the sport at age 50.

She grew up on a farm in Nampa, Idaho, and moved to Anchorage in 1945, where she and husband Roger Waldron obtained a 160-acre homestead near the present-day Tudor and Lake Otis roads. She began running in the late 1960s and among her accomplishments were once holding nine national age-group records ranging from 800 meters to an ultramarathon, and five age world records for a female marathoner in her 60s. Trent won Fairbanks’ Equinox Marathon three times and remains its oldest champion at age 58. She also won the famous Pikes Peak Marathon at age 57 and is believed to be the first woman ever over the age of 50 to qualify for the Boston Marathon. Marcie completed 59 marathons and 11 ultramarathons and logged more than 71,000 lifetime miles in her life. Trent was inducted into the USA Track & Field Masters Hall of Fame in 2001.

Marcie and John Trent, her second husband, also formed the Pulsators Running Club, likely Alaska’s first such organization. “For Marcie, the motto of the Pulsators Running Club was ‘Run and Rejoice,’” Alex Monterrosa said.

And rejoice she did, whether it was running on the trails she was so passionate about, organizing races, giving advice to aspiring runners, running in sub-zero temperatures, or completing marathons in Japan, Colorado, Idaho, Massachusetts and elsewhere.

In 1995, Trent, age 77, and her son Larry Waldron were killed by a bear while running in Chugach State Park. Their funeral drew more than 500 mourners, including Gov. Tony Knowles. The Trent/Waldron Half Marathon and 10K continues to this day in their memory.

Matt Carle

Meanwhile, Carle made his mark in college and professional hockey after growing up in Anchorage and excelling in the sport with his two younger brothers. As a 6-foot defenseman, Carle helped the University of Denver to two national championships and won college hockey’s top individual award, the Hobey Baker, in 2006.

In 2003, the San Jose Sharks drafted Carle in the second round of the National Hockey League draft. He scored a goal in his NHL debut with the Sharks in 2006 and earned a spot on the 2006-07 NHL all-rookie team. His pro career spanned 12 seasons with San Jose, Tampa Bay, Philadelphia and Nashville, where he tallied 45 goals and 238 assists. Carle also competed in 127 playoffs games and twice reached the Stanley Cup Finals.

His accomplishments as an Alaskan hockey player are matched only by Alaska Sports Hall of Fame inductee Scott Gomez.

 “I want to thank my family for all the sacrifices they have made on behalf of my career,” Carle said at his retirement announcement in 2016. “My parents, brothers and wife Clancey allowed me to focus on the pursuit of playing the best sport in the world, in the best league of the world, and I will always be grateful.”

The Yukon 800 is billed as the “longest, roughest and toughest speed boat race in the world.” Created as the “Arctic Circle Marathon” in 1960, it evolved into a two-day event each June that starts in Fairbanks, overnights in Galena and ends in Fairbanks after 800 miles on the Tanana and Yukon rivers.

Competitors build low-slung 24-foot long boats from scratch using Sitka spruce for the framework and plywood for the hull. The riverboats are powered with 50-horsepower engines and can reach speeds of more than 70 miles per hour.

There is no shortage of danger and obstacles for the boats’ captains, engineers and navigators. “Unpredictable weather such as high winds, rain and hail, blowing sand from river sandbars, smoke from nearby forest fires and fog can limit visibility,” said a race history published by the Fairbanks Outboard Association. “Large trees, logs and other drift wash from the riverbanks and ride the current down the rivers. All can be a determining factor in the most meticulous plans of even the most seasoned captain and crew.”

The inaugural race in 1960 from Circle City to Fairbanks took winner Ray Kasola and crew more than 26 hours. The race record now stands at 11 hours, 52 minutes by Harold Attla’s crew in 2007. Attla is also the winningest captain with 10 titles on the boats Hughes Blues and My Pleasure.

For the moment category, UAA’s hockey upset of Boston College in 1991 was hard to fathom. The Seawolves were an independent team without a league at the time. BC, led by Hobey Baker winner David Emma, was a perennial Hockey East powerhouse playing on its home ice in the 1st round of the NCAA Tournament a year after reaching the national semifinals.

“I thought BC would blow them out of the building,” said Jack Parker, the coach of BC’s rival Boston University, in a 2019 article published by USCHO.com.

But the Seawolves, led by coach Brush Christiansen, showed no fear in the best 2-of-3 series that pitted the West Region’s sixth-seeded team against the East Region’s third-ranked squad. They beat the Eagles 3-2 in the opener, keyed by goals from Rob Conn and Brian Kraft. The next night UAA clinched the series 3-1. Goalie Paul Krake was among the heroes, making 39 saves in the second game.

“This was huge news in Anchorage,” Doyle Woody, an Anchorage Daily News reporter who attended the series, told USCHO.com. “Both game stories were on the front page of the newspaper, which is, other than radio or TV, how a lot of people found out.”

The Seawolves lost to eventual national champion Northern Michigan in the NCAA quarterfinals and finished the campaign 22-17-4 but their victory in the “David vs. Goliath” series against BC was never forgotten.

Nearly 1,000 people participated in the public vote this November.  The cumulative public vote is submitted as one ballot.  Each selection panel member submits a ballot of their own, with the final ballot coming from the cumulative vote of the living Alaska Sports Hall of Fame inductees.

Upon enshrinement, inductee portraits are permanently displayed at the Alaska Sports Hall of Fame Gallery at the Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport. Each inductee is recognized on the site with their own page featuring a written biography, video profile, and photo gallery.

For full list of Alaska Sports Hall of Fame Inductees, click here.

Alaska Sports Hall of Fame selection panel: Beth Bragg (panel chair), sports editor, Anchorage Daily News; Bruce Cech, Fairbanks sports broadcaster and journalist; Lew Freedman, former Anchorage Daily News sports editor and author of numerous books about Alaska sports;  Mike Janecek, longtime Mat-Su Valley high school coach and athletics administrator; Danny Martin, sports editor, Fairbanks Daily News-Miner; Kathleen Navarre, Kodiak and Dimond High School coach and administrator;  Keith Perkins, Sitka-based high school sports official and broadcaster; Mike Sica, longtime Southeast and Fairbanks sports broadcaster and journalist, and Doyle Woody,  sports writer and editor at the Anchorage Daily News for 34 years.

March 28, 2019

Incredible and inspiring Alaska athletes were selected to be honored by the Alaska Sports Hall of Fame with the Class of 2019 Directors’ Awards.

The Hall of Fame created the annual Directors’ Awards in 2012 as a way to pay tribute to the state’s community leaders. The awards were expanded last year to include youth winners.

The Directors’ Award recipients will be recognized April 25 at the Class of 2019 Hall of Fame ceremony headlined by individual inductees Chad Bentz and Corey Cogdell-Unrein, event category winner Alaska Run for Women and the moment winner of Kodiak’s upset of perennial powerhouse East Anchorage in the 2001 high school state title game.

This will be the 13th class to be honored by the Hall, which uses a selection process based on votes from the Alaska Sports Hall of Fame selection panel, past inductees and the public.

The Directors’ Awards are selected by the Hall of Fame’s board of directors.

For more info on the awards and past winners, go here

Here are the 2019 Directors’ Adult Award winners:

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

Winner: Brush Christiansen

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 more than 214 points better than next highest.  Christiansen has remained active in Anchorage’s hockey community for decades, coaching at youth levels, and helping putting on camps and clinics.

 

Trajan Langdon Award: For Leadership, Sportsmanship and Inspiration

Winners: Andy Beardsley and Larsen Klingel

Andy Beardsley & Larsen Klingel

Andy Beardsley  pushed his friend Larsen Klingel in a wheelchair through rain, wind and cold at the 2018 Boston Marathon. Klingel has cerebral palsy. The pair became friends as elementary students in Anchorage and graduated form East High School together in 1982.  Although Beardsley had moved to Virginia and Klingel to Homer, they stayed in touch over the years and discussed doing a marathon together. The friends finished in 3 hours, 40 minutes to rank in the top half of the field of more than 25,000 participants.

 

 

 

 

Pride of Alaska Award: For Consistent Excellence in Athletic Competition

Female Winner: Caroline Kurgat

Caroline Kurgat

A UAA senior from Kenya, Kurgat won national titles in the 5,000 and 3,000-meter runs at the NCAA indoor track and field championships, leading the Seawolves to a program-best fourth-place in the women’s standings. That brought her total of individual national championships to five. In January 2019, Kurgat also ran the fastest 3,000 and 5,000-meter times in NCAA Division II history.

 

 

Male Winner: Keegan Messing

Keegan Messing

A Girdwood native, Messing won his first Grand Prix medal, a silver, at the 2018 Skate Canada International. He also placed third at Canadian nationals. Representing Canada, he placed 12th at the 2018 Olympics. He was also the 2018 Nebelhorn Trophy champion and won a silver medal in the Grand Prix of Figure Skating at the 2018 Skate Canada International.

 

 

 

Here are the 2019 Directors’ Youth Awards:

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

Female Winner: Kendall Kramer, Fairbanks (West Valley)

Kendall Kramer

The 16-year-old junior won the Mount Marathon junior race and individual high school state championships in track, cross country running and cross-country skiing. In skiing, she claimed two titles at the Junior Nationals in Anchorage (with two races remaining) and placed 4th at the World Junior Ski Championships in Finland while competing against much older girls.

 

 

 

Male Winner: Jersey Truesdell, Soldotna

Jersey Truesdell

An all-state performer in football and basketball, Truesdell is perhaps known for playing his best in the biggest moments. In football, the junior was named all-state at both quarterback and defensive back for the Solotna Stars and was named Alaska Division 2 Offensive Player of the Year. In basketball, he was named third team all-state and at the Class 4A state tournament his 31 points carried the Stars to a first-round upset win.

 

 

Trajan Langdon Youth Award: For Leadership, Sportsmanship and Inspiration

Winner: South High Boys Basketball Team

Dallin Lewis

For two years, Dallin Lewis was a part of the South High boys basketball team. Even though he never played, the team devoted manager shared a strong sense of camaraderie with his teammates and was always on hand to support his Wolverines. On Senior Night, his team returned the favor when South coach Jamaal Sigh inserted him into the game in the final seconds against East. Lewis, who has a learning disability, scored a layup just before the final buzzer in a magical moment.

February 27, 2019

Alissa Pili, 2018 Girls Pride of Alaska Winner

The Alaska Sports Hall of Fame Board of Directors’ is  preparing to select the annual Directors Awards winners recognizing Alaska’s top athletes this past year. Please take a moment to submit your recommendations here. Both the adult and high school winners will be honored at the ceremony and banquet at the Anchorage Museum, April 25th.

Pride of Alaska Award – For Outstanding Athletic Achievement (Adult and Youth)

Trajan Langdon Award – For Leadership, Sportsmanship, & Integrity (Adult and Youth)

Joe Floyd Award – For Community Contribution through Sports

We are taking recommendations through March 15th.

Read about the Directors’ Awards and past winners here.

December 13, 2018

Former Major League Baseball player Chad Bentz of Juneau and two-time Olympic bronze medal winning trap shooter Corey Cogdell-Unrein of Eagle River will headline the Class of 2019 inductions into the Alaska Sports Hall of Fame.

Bentz and Cogdell-Unrein were the lone selections from the people category and will be joined by the Alaska Run for Women from the event category and Kodiak’s upset of perennial powerhouse East Anchorage in the 2001 high school state title game from the moment category.

This will be the 13th class to be honored by the Hall, which uses a selection process based on votes from the Alaska Sports Hall of Fame selection panel, past inductees and the public.

“We’re very pleased with the choices that came out of the selection process,” said Alaska Sports Hall of Fame executive director Harlow Robinson. “Alaska is such a diverse state with a rich sports culture and this group reflects that.”

The Class of 2019 will be honored at a banquet April 25th at the Anchorage Museum.

Here is a closer look at the Class of 2019:

No Alaska athlete did more with less than Bentz.

He became only the second person to play Major League Baseball after being born without one of his hands when he made his debut on April 7, 1994.

“I played baseball when I was younger, and got made fun of,” Bentz said in 2004. “I didn’t like going because all they did was make fun of me. So, I didn’t play anymore. Then I saw Jim Abbott. He gave me the will to at least try playing again.”

The 6-foot-2, 215-pound left-hander pitched in 40 career MLB games, more than any other player from Alaska. He played for the Montreal Expos in 2004 and the Florida Marlins in 2005.

Bentz – one of three Alaskans to play in the big leagues – finished 0-3 with a 5.86 ERA and 18 strikeouts in 29.2 innings.

Arguably his most impressive achievement is the fact that he’s the only Alaskan with a MLB base hit.

“Not bad for a boy who overcame many obstacles he faced in his life, both geographical and physical,” Bentz said.

Bentz, 38, played nine years in the minor leagues and racked up an 11-20 record with 23 saves in 195 appearances, almost all in relief.

After his baseball career ended in 2010, he played a season of college football at NCAA D3 Castleton State in Vermont. He was a fullback and carried the ball 12 times and scored two touchdowns.

One of the most decorated trap shooters in American history with a dozen medals, Cogdell-Unrein is a three-time Olympian and two-time Olympic bronze medalist. She’s also claimed medals from World Cup and other international competitions.

At her best under pressure, she is fearless in the big moment and has medaled six different times after hitting the final target, including twice at the Olympics.

At the 2016 Games in Brazil, she upset the reigning world champion from Spain in a shootout.

The situation mirrored how she won her bronze medal at the 2008 Beijing Games in China.

On that day she was involved in a four-way shootout. After each of the first three shooters failed to hit the target, Cogdell-Unrein nailed it to claim the medal.

She is the definition of clutch.

Cogdell-Unrein, 32, is now a star in the new category of trap mixed team, which will be added to the Olympic Games in 2020.

In the first year of competition in 2018 she collected three medals, most notably a gold medal at the ISSF World Cup in Arizona and a silver at the first-ever trap mixed team tryout in Colorado.

When it comes to the event category, the Alaska Run for Women was the runaway winner. The annual Anchorage footrace was created in 1993 as a protest against an older, more established all-women’s race that raised its entry fee while eliminating many of its amenities.

The Run for Women responded by collecting donations in lieu of entry fees and giving the money to breast cancer charities.

Since then, the race has become the biggest in Alaska — drawing as many as 7,000 moms, daughters, sisters, wives, aunts and grandmas — while generating more than $3.5 million in cash and health care services.

In the moment category, voters picked Kodiak’s 55-52 victory over East Anchorage in the 2001 high school state championship game. The game was played at Sullivan Arena in front of a huge crowd that featured what seemed like the entire town of Kodiak.

Anchored by 7-foot center Nick Billings and all-star guard Geoffrey Agmata, the Kodiak Bears and head coach Amy (Rakers) Fogle scored a storybook win over the 16-time state champion T-birds for the Class 4A title.

In just her fourth season as bench boss, Rakers guided Kodiak back from a 10-point third-quarter deficit to cap an undefeated 28-0 season for Kodiak’s first state title in boys hoops in school history.

“Level of pride brought to Alaskans is a key consideration in deciding who gets in and the people, moment and event in this class all measure very high,” said Robinson.

Nearly 2,000 people participated in the public vote this November. The cumulative public vote is submitted as one ballot. Each selection panel member submits a ballot of their own, with the final ballot coming from the cumulative vote of the living Alaska Sports Hall of Fame inductees.

December 1, 2018

Thank you to the 1,895 people who went to our voting page and helped select the people,  moments, events to be inducted into the Alaska Sports Hall of Fame Class of 2019.  The  selection panel meets to review the public voting results and submissions  before casting their own ballots on December 2nd.

The new class of inductees will be announced on December 13th with a ceremony and banquet scheduled for April at the Anchorage Museum.  Date to be announced soon.

 

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.