Weather couldnt dampen the show
Backstage at the Oregon Sports Awards: All these years of doing this show in the middle of winter and weather never has been a problem. But Sunday, the big snowstorm that hit Eugene kept Dennis Dixon and UO Athletic Director Pat Kilkenny - who had his private plane all set to fly a load of Ducks into Portland -at home.
We probably were overdue for some sort of weather complication.
Frankly, it probably was the worst luck we've ever had with scheduled presenters and award winners. Dixon, the winner of the Hayward Award for men, couldn't make it, and Greg Oden - a scheduled presenter - had to make a weekend trip to Indianapolis for undisclosed reasons.
Brandon Roy, the winner of the Harry Glickman male pro athlete of the year trophy, had been confirmed, too, but was so ill after leading the Blazers to that 94-93 win over Atlanta on Sunday afternoon in the Rose Garden that he went straight home to bed.
Funny thing, though -even with some of the big guns unable to attend, it emphasized more than ever that this show is as much about the younger athletes as anyone else.
Honoring small-college stars and high school standouts has long been a tradition of the show. It's a chance for many of them to share a spotlight with Olympians and pros, a chance for regional television time and for them, if they win, to thank people who have helped them gain their own measure of success.
It's an opportunity, too, to honor a Special Olympics athlete of the year. Often the winner steps up to become the heartwarming centerpiece of the evening. It happened again Sunday, when 17-year-old Amelia Abel of Eugene stole the show with her wonderful speech and charismatic personality.
Try following her to the podium.
Don't think because there were a few absences that some stars still didn't come out. Channing Frye and Taurean Green showed up to present Roy's award, and Kevin Pritchard accepted it. OSU coaches Pat Casey and Mike Riley, with their wives, were present - as they almost always are.
Speaking of Oregon State, Derek Anderson was on hand - looking bigger, stronger and more successful than ever.
Terrell Brandon, the big-hearted former Grant High, Oregon and NBA star, is there every year - always fashionable. Red Sox outfielder Jacoby Ellsbury was just about the last person out the door, having signed every autograph for everyone who wanted a signature.
Ellsbury, by the way, had spent the day on a photo shoot for GQ.
This show gets better every year. Nike's expertise on these sorts of events continues to pay big dividends, and the momentum is all positive. A renewed commitment by the Trail Blazers to sponsorship and involvement will make an impact, too.
It's one big night for Oregon sports. And it's going to do nothing but get even bigger.