Bright lights, big night
Excellence takes stage at 56th Oregon Sports Awards
From Oregon State's remarkable run in college baseball to the Portland Trail Blazers' re-emergence as an NBA contender -the sellout crowd had plenty to cheer about at Sunday's 56th annual Oregon Sports Awards.
'It's been amazing to watch all the winners and athletes up for these awards,' said Blazer General Manager Kevin Pritchard at the end of the nearly two-hour extravaganza at Nike's Tiger Woods Center. 'It's been a great year for Oregon sports.'
And the awards show helped fans relive the greatest accomplishments of 2007 - of which there were almost too many to mention.
OSU's second straight NCAA baseball champions won the George Pasero Team of the Year Award. It was the third consecutive Pasero trophy for OSU baseball.
And the Beavers had company, as two fellow national champs - Oregon men's cross country and Linfield softball - also were honored as co-teams of the year.
Beaver baseball coach Pat Casey made it to the stage early in the show, when he became the first to win the Slats Gill Sportsperson of the Year three years in a row.
'I really want to thank the players,' Casey said. 'The only reason I'm up here is them. Seriously, this is all about the young athletes.'
Trail Blazer guard Brandon Roy and distance runner Kara Goucher won the Harry Glickman professional athlete of the year awards.
Roy, who had been ill for a week, was so sick after leading the Blazers to a come-from-behind victory over Atlanta just before the show that the 2007 NBA Rookie of the Year had to have Pritchard accept his trophy.
'We've had a great season because of him,' Pritchard said. 'He's a great player but an even better person off the court.'
Goucher, who trains under Alberto Salazar, won the bronze medal in the 10,000 meters at the world track and field championships in Osaka, Japan. She also set an American record in the half-marathon.
Goucher, 29, ran for the University of Colorado before coming to Portland.
'Moving to Oregon has been a blessing for me and my husband (distance runner Adam Goucher),' she said. 'The community here is amazing.'
The top players from two of the state's most exciting college teams came away with the Bill Hayward Amateur Athlete of the Year awards -Dennis Dixon and Stephanie Cox.
Dixon became the fifth UO quarterback to win the Hayward, joining Joey Harrington, Bill Musgrave, Chris Miller and George Shaw.
Cox, who recently married and changed her name from Stephanie Lopez, was an All-America soccer defender at the University of Portland and the only collegiate starter on the U.S. squad that finished third in the Women's World Cup.
'This is such an honor, just being here in the presence of such great athletes,' Cox said.
In all, 17 awards were presented in 14 categories. Nearly 70 finalists were in the running. The event was simulcast by Comcast SportsNet and 1080 AM the Fan.
Ahmad Rashad, former UO and NFL football star and an Emmy-award winning broadcaster, served as host for the second consecutive year. Rashad, a four-time Pro Bowl wide receiver, was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame last year.
Other award presenters included Blazers Channing Frye and Taurean Green; Derek Anderson, quarterback of the Cleveland Browns from Scappoose; Portland State football coach Jerry Glanville; Dick Fosbury, the 1968 NCAA and Olympic high jump champion from Medford who invented the 'Fosbury Flop'; Steven Jackson, running back for the St. Louis Rams who played for Oregon State; and Blazer broadcaster Bill Schonely, who also was the event's ambassador.
Lake Oswego High's Kevin Love, the state's all-time leading prep basketball scorer, set another record when he became the first three-time winner of the Johnny Carpenter prep athlete of the year award for men.
'What really made this happen is my Lake Oswego team back home,' Love said in a video acceptance taped after he led UCLA to a weekend sweep of the Oregon schools.
Love, who was required to fly back to Los Angeles after Saturday night's win in Corvallis, shared the Oregon prep honor with Sprague's Joey Wong for 2005. The only two-time prep winners are Jordan Kent, Billy Harper, Gus Envela and Charlie Sitton.
The female prep athlete of the year award for 2007 went to Taylor Wallace of Henley. She won Class 4A state titles in the 1,500 and 3,000 meters and cross country and was named Gatorade Oregon female cross-country runner of the year. Wallace is the first prep award winner from Klamath Falls since Greg Brosterhaus (1968) and Mike Keck (1967).
Warner Pacific basketball guard Scott O'Gallagher, an All-American from Gresham, won the Ad Rutschman small college athlete of the year award for men. He thanked his teammates and parents and coach Bart Valentine, who guided the Knights last season from a wheelchair after knee surgery.
Kelsi Haylett, who starred in softball, basketball and track and field for Oregon Institute of Technology, won the Rutschman female award.
Jesuit High's Adrienne McGuirk took home the Nike-Steve Prefontaine Award, which goes to the senior prep distance runner who most exemplifies the competitive qualities that made 'Pre' an international track icon.
Former Blazer center Chris Dudley and pro golfer Brian Henninger won merit awards for community service.
Dudley, a diabetic since age 16, has helped children with Type 1 diabetes throughout Oregon and the United States, and been involved in various other charitable causes. In accepting his award, he quoted Jackie Robinson: 'A life is not important except in the impact it has on other lives.'
The Brian H. Henninger Foundation has raised nearly $550,000 for various charities in Oregon, most of them geared to helping children.
Seventeen-year-old Amelia Abel of Sheldon High drew a standing ovation and a curtain call after her acceptance speech as the Lou Burge Special Olympics athlete of the year.
Alpenrose Dairy, annual home of the Little League Softball World Series and countless other Little League games and bicycle races, was recognized for more than 50 years of playing host to youth and adult sports. Carl Cadonau accepted the Les Schwab Friend of Sports award on behalf of Alpenrose and his grandfather Henry and father Carl Sr. He recalled that the first ball field was built at the dairy after his grandmother said she was tired of going out 'to pick up the roses we kids were busting up in the garden.'
Several standout high school athletes helped make the presentations. Handling that task were Emma Gronseth, ace pitcher for Forest Grove's 2007 Class 6A state champions; Jordan Johnson, who quarterbacked Sheldon to the 6A state football title; Kendall Johnson, 6A girls soccer player of the year for Lincoln's 18-0-0 state champs; Kellie Kawasaki, an all-state tournament libero on West Linn's 6A state championship volleyball squad; Kalonji Paschal, a football/basketball star at Jefferson; Garrett Sim, the Sunset basketball guard who ranks second in the state in scoring this season and has signed a letter-of-intent with the California Golden Bears; and Brad Tinsley, the Oregon City basketball guard whose team is ranked No. 1 in 6A.
The Oregon Sports Awards will be replayed seven times on Comcast SportsNet (37). Here are the dates and times:
• 10:30 a.m. Tuesday
• 8 p.m. Wednesday
• 4 p.m. Sunday
• 8 p.m. Feb. 5
• 10:30 a.m. Feb. 6
• 6 p.m. Feb. 13
• 8 p.m. Feb. 16
(The show also can be seen free via On Demand on Comcast SportsNet, beginning Feb. 17.)