By Rich Myhre Herald Writer
EVERETT — Snohomish County’s distinguished sports history was celebrated on Wednesday night with a gala banquet honoring 10 individuals and two teams being inducted this year into the county’s Sports Hall of Fame.
The event drew hundreds of family, friends and general sports enthusiasts to Everett’s Edward D. Hansen Conference Center at Comcast Arena.
One after another, the inductees took the podium and spoke about the pride they have at growing up in this area and the gratitude they feel for the families, coaches and communities that helped nurture and encourage them along the way.
Chuck Nelson, who went from the playfields in Everett to an All-American football career at the University of Washington and then into the National Football League, has a remarkable list of career sports accomplishments beyond Snohomish County. “But in the end,” he told the crowd, “I still consider myself just a kid from Everett.
“I was lucky to grow up here,” he said. “This is a community that values competition, it values sports and it values excellence. It promotes those things and it encourages its kids to participate and to strive for greatness. That doesn’t happen everywhere, and I feel very lucky to have been a part of that.”
Other inductees echoed those sentiments, including basketball player Milena Flores, who went from Snohomish High School to four years at Stanford University and then into professional basketball, including two seasons in the WNBA.
“It’s an absolutely humbling experience to be inducted in a class of people who have done such excellent things in their athletic careers,” Flores said in her remarks. “I’m in awe of the excellence in the room, but I’m not surprised that we’ve all called this place home at some point in our lives.”
Brett McClure of Mill Creek, who won a silver medal in gymnastics at the 2004 Olympic Games, said he was “honored and humbled” to be part of this year’s Hall of Fame class.
“To be named in the same breath with (the other inductees) is absolutely amazing,” he said. “When I got the phone call that they wanted to induct me into the Snohomish County Hall of Fame, I knew I had to do everything I could to get out here and be a part of this event.”
Joining Nelson, Flores and McClure as athletes in this year’s class are high jumper Vicki Borsheim Beskind of Everett, a two-time All-American and still the women’s record holder at the University of Washington; Dave Hamilton of Edmonds, a nine-year major league pitcher who won three World Series rings with the Oakland A’s; and Robert Shannon of Edmonds, who won U.S. and world junior boxing titles and was a two-time Olympian.
The coaches who were inducted are Karen Blair, who guided the Meadowdale High School girls basketball team to two state titles; Tom Campbell, who won 12 state championships (seven boys, five girls) at Edmonds High School (later Edmonds-Woodway High School); and Dick Erickson of Arlington, who coached the UW crew to national and international prominence.
Also inducted was Cliff Gillies, an educator in the Monroe, Snohomish and Mukilteo school districts, and later the executive director of the Washington Interscholastic Activities Association.
Erickson and Gillies are deceased and were represented by family members, as was Hamilton, who lives in California and was unable to attend.
Two top high school teams were also inducted. They are the 2003-04 Meadowdale girls basketball team, coached by Blair, which finished 26-1 and won the Class 3A state championship; and the 1972 Sultan High School football team, which went 9-0 in an era before state playoffs and outscored its opponents 393-44.
Wednesday’s induction ceremony was the fourth in as many years, and the current class of inductees raises the Hall of Fame’s totals to 41 individuals and seven teams. The individuals include 26 athletes, 12 coaches and three sports contributors.
Also recognized were The Herald’s Man and Woman of the Year in Sports for 2012. They are basketball player John Allen of Mountlake Terrace, who helped Western Washington University to the NCAA Division II national championship in 2011-12 as part of his All-American career with the Vikings, and judo competitor Marti Malloy of Oak Harbor, who won a bronze medal at the 2012 Olympic Games in London.
Keynote speaker Cliff McCrath, the former men’s soccer coach at Seattle Pacific University, entertained the audience with quips and anecdotes, though his words turned more serious near the end of his speech.
“Tonight we celebrate achievement,” McCrath told the audience. “We’re celebrating the lives of people who are great achievers.”