EVERETT — It was a festive atmosphere Wednesday night at the Edward D. Hansen Conference Center at Xfinity Arena as the Snohomish County Sports Hall of Fame held its banquet to induct the class of 2017.
Before an appreciative crowd, six individuals and one team joined the county Hall of Fame. That group that included four athletes, one coach, one sports contributor and one team.
It was the sports contributor, former Everett High School baseball coach and sports organizer Lou Stevenson, who summed up the attitude among those inducted.
“I feel lucky to live in a community that’s been so good to me,” the 1964 graduate of Cascade High School said in accepting his award. “I spent my whole career here as an athlete, a coach, an umpire — that wasn’t real good — a parent, a grandparent, a cheerleader, a spectator and a fan. I can’t imagine a better place to live. This award is a much bigger deal to me than I thought it was going to be, and I very humbly say, ‘Thank you.’”
The athletes inducted spanned a wide variety of sports, ranging from baseball to ice hockey, distance running to water skiing.
Perhaps the best-known name of the group was former major-league baseball player Adam Eaton, a 1996 graduate of Snohomish High School. Eaton was drafted in the first round (11th overall) of the 1996 draft by the Philadelphia Phillies, and he went on to have a 10-year major-league career playing for the Phillies, San Diego Padres, Texas Rangers, Baltimore Orioles and Colorado Rockies. He finished his career in 2009 having gone 71-68 with a 4.94 ERA.
“There is one hat that I have always worn proudly,” Eaton said. “It’s the hat that’s about more than who I am, what I am or what I do. It’s the hat of where I come from. When I hear people throughout the country ask where I was from, I always said, ‘Snohomish.’”
Brooke Whitney, a 1999 graduate of Bothell High School who was a two-time All-American in ice hockey at Northeastern University in Boston, took the opportunity to speak about being a woman in sports, a topic that was also discussed by the night’s keynote speaker, former University of Washington softball star Danielle Lawrie.
“It was like trying to pull teeth to try and find somewhere for me to play, and the only option was to play with boys,” said Whitney, who won the 2002 Patty Kazmaier Award as the top women’s collegiate hockey player. “So from 6 years old until college I played on full-time boys travel teams, it was all I had. Now it’s really great to see around here not only has the game of hockey grown, but there’s more females playing.”
Steve Miller, a 1975 graduate of Everett High School, was inducted for a water-skiing career that included five national titles. Miller took the stage wearing a brace on his right arm.
“Part of the reason I’m in another brace is yet one more water ski accident earlier this summer,” Miller quipped.
“I’m certainly very humbled to be up here to be among the 2017 inductees tonight,” Miller added. “I’ve been fortunate enough to be on the (Hall of Fame) committee the last couple years, and to read all the bios of all these incredible athletes that are being submitted and to review them. Then to actually be included among them — just being nominated is an accomplishment, but being inducted truly is an honor, one I will certainly never forget.”
Jim Pearson, a 1962 graduate of Lake Stevens High School and a long-distance running standout who at one time held the U.S. record in the 50-mile run, made it sound like he may even have jogged to the event. That wouldn’t have been a shock, considering Pearson hasn’t missed a day of running since Feb. 15, 1969.
“I’m past 47-and-a-half years right now. I ran 4.2 miles this morning and I’m still moving,” Pearson said.
“All those extra miles is what got me up here.”
The coach inducted was longtime Everett Merchants manager Harold Pyatte, who guided the Merchants to the 1988 National Baseball Congress World Series championship, and he stressed the importance the community has meant to him and his program.
“We would not be here without community support, that’s why we named the team the Merchants,” Pyatte said. “There’s a lot of support for this club, it’s going to go on for at least another year. Every year I want to retire, I say it’s going to be my last year. My wife said, ‘No, I think you still have the passion.’”
The team that was inducted was the 1970 Snohomish High School boys basketball team, which won the AAA state title. Almost every surviving member of the team, including the team trainers and managers, was in attendance.
There were six other individuals who received awards at the banquet. Everett Silvertips goaltender Carter Hart and University of Washington track and field and cross country runner Amy-Eloise Neale received The Herald’s Man and Woman of the Year in Sports awards for 2016; Edmonds Community College baseball player Zach Needham and Everett Community College softball player Anya Predojevic received the 2017 Collegiate Male and Female Athlete of the Year awards as chosen by the community colleges; and Lynnwood track athlete Harris Cutuk and Glacier Peak basketball player Paisley Johnson received the KRKO Radio high school Male and Female Athlete of the Year awards.