College football coaching legend and Everett High School graduate Dennis Erickson. (Drew Perine / The Herald)

College football coaching legend and Everett High School graduate Dennis Erickson. (Drew Perine / The Herald)

A look into the past: Old Herald photos give glimpse of sports history

Herald writer Nick Patterson’s trip to the Snohomish County Sports Commission was a chance to step into a time machine.

Few receive the opportunity to step into a time machine.

Thanks to Tammy Dunn of the Snohomish County Sports Commission, I can now count myself among the likes of Marty McFly, Bill and Ted, and H.G. Wells’ nameless visitor to the Eloi and Morlocks. I’ve seen the past and it is glorious.

Let me explain.

It was years ago, maybe even pre-pandemic, when Tammy first informed me that the Sports Commission was in possession of several boxes of The Herald’s old photos from the days before our photo department went digital, courtesy of some housecleaning that took place at the paper’s corporate office near Paine Field circa 2018. I always intended to peruse those boxes, but never seemed to find the time.

Then a few weeks ago I finally made my way to the Sports Commission — a nonprofit organization dedicated to bringing sports tourism to the county — to check out what the boxes contained. I have to admit I felt a little like Geraldo Rivera as he prepared to knock down the wall to Al Capone’s vaults. What would these photos reveal about Snohomish County sports history? Might these boxes hold treasures such as photos from as far back as a century ago, when the legendary George Wilson was roaming the football fields of Everett?

Like Rivera, the first emotion I experienced was letdown. The first few boxes I opened contained images unrelated to the county: sets of NBA player headshots sent to the department in the early 1990s — that’s how news organizations received headshots prior to the internet — as well as printouts of wire photos that accompanied national sports stories inevitably relegated to page 5 of the sports section.

But one box in particular proved a trove.

This box contained stacks of large printouts of film photos taken by Herald photographers, with brief notes about the subjects of the photos. This was why I came here.

Snohomish High School graduate Keith Gilbertson Jr. during his time as a member of the University of Washington football coaching staff. (Michael O’Leary / The Herald)

Snohomish High School graduate Keith Gilbertson Jr. during his time as a member of the University of Washington football coaching staff. (Michael O’Leary / The Herald)

These photos were from the 80s and 90s, and they included everything from simple headshots used for the Prep Athlete of the Week feature, to action shots from Seattle professional teams’ games back when the Herald had beat writers covering the Seahawks, Mariners and SuperSonics. There were shots of Chris Chandler, who would become a Pro Bowl quarterback in the NFL, from his days at Everett High School and the University of Washington. Snohomish County Sports Hall of Famers like boxers Robert Shannon and Bret Summers, like football coaches Dick Armstrong and Terry Ennis, were illustrated at the peak of their endeavors.

Given that I first began working at The Herald as a sports clerk in the mid-90s, many of the high school headshots were of athletes I covered when they were prep stars, such as Snohomish High School girls basketball player Milena Flores and Everett High School wrestler Otto Olson.

It was a trip through not only Snohomish County sports history, but my own. And now, thanks to the Sports Commission, we can share that trip with the readers. Enjoy!

Follow Nick Patterson on Twitter at @NickHPatterson.

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