Jack Schalow met a lot of challenges head-on during his time as a basketball coach at the collegiate and NBA levels, but nothing compared to the battle he is faced with now.
Schalow, who lived in the Portland area from 1985 to 2000 and was a scout and assistant coach with the Trail Blazers for a decade, recently worked with the Chinese junior national team at the U.S. Basketball Academy outside Eugene.
When he returned to his Salt Lake City home, he discovered a lump on his neck. It turned out to be a cancerous lymph node, and cancer of the parotid gland along the chin line was discovered in exploratory studies.
After six weeks of radiation and chemotherapy, Schalow began the long road back to health. Tests a month ago showed no recurrence of cancer, but he is still unable to eat.
'The radiation and chemo affects the muscles in your throat,' Schalow says. 'I have a feeding tube in my stomach, and I have lost a lot of weight. It sucks. But I am doing exercises for the tongue area, and it won't be long before I will be able to start eating again. I'm feeling good, better than in some time.'
Schalow, who turns 65 in April, is one of the truly nice people I have met during my time covering the NBA. When he found out my young son had an interest in horses, he invited him to the stable where he kept his cutting horses. They took a ride and had a ball together. Schalow has always been a fitness buff who could put men half his age to shame.
Here's wishing you the best in your recuperation, Jackie.
• It appears that Larry Williams will be the new University of Portland athletic director. Williams, an administrator at Notre Dame, played football for the Irish and was an offensive guard in the NFL for seven years, and has served as analyst for Notre Dame's post-game radio show. He is said to be a marketing whiz, which would be a useful tool for the Pilots.
• Tommy Skipper is already the greatest pole vaulter in University of Oregon history, and he hasn't yet competed in an outdoor meet.
The freshman from Sandy finished second in the NCAA indoor championships at Fayetteville, Ark., last weekend at 18 feet 41Ú4 inches, following the 18-83Ú4 vault he made in a February meet in Boise that bettered Olympian Kory Tarpenning's school outdoor record of 18-61Ú2 in 1985. The Boise performance qualified Skipper for the Olympic Trials at Sacramento, Calif., in July.
'My goals coming into indoors were to clear 19 feet, get my Trials qualifier and win the national title,' Skipper said.
Those are incredible goals for a pretty incredible freshman, who might just beat all odds and become the youngest U.S. Olympic pole vaulter in history.
• The Boston Red Sox have named field No. 2 at their Fort Myers, Fla., minor league complex Johnny Pesky Field after the Portland native who has been a member of the organization for nearly 50 years as a player, manager, coach, broadcaster and scout.
Pesky, 84, is a special assignment instructor for the Red Sox. My guess is he will retire sometime within the next five or 10 years, but you never know.
• Portland's LPGA Safeway Classic won't be Annika Sorenstam's only appearance in the Northwest this summer. Jeff Sanders Promotions has lined up Sorenstam to participate in the Kraft/Nabisco Shootout on Sept. 20 in Boise, the kickoff to the Albertsons Boise Open. It's a nine-hole exhibition featuring Sorenstam and three other pro golfers/celebrities that is free to the public and will be televised nationally on the Golf Channel.
• Northwest Sports Illustrated, a monthly magazine that was to have hit the newsstands in Oregon, Washington and Idaho this winter, is now shooting for an August launch date because of slow advertising pre-sales.