Featured Stories

Other Pamplin Media Group sites

Local Weather

Rain

50°F

Portland

Rain

Humidity: 96%

Wind: 5 mph

  • 23 Nov 2014

    Rain 52°F 45°F

  • 24 Nov 2014

    PM Rain 52°F 49°F


BRANDON: Ghosts of OSA legends light our future

by: COURTESY OF JOHN LARIVIERE - Keanon Lowe (left) of the Oregon Ducks and Sean Mannion of the rival Oregon State Beavers agree to shake hands before the present trophies at the Oregon Sports Awards Sunday at Nikes Tiger Woods Center.Every year at the Oregon Sports Awards, I see ghosts.

Their spirit greets us at the doors of Nike’s Tiger Woods Center.

Before the show, they walk (or float) among the athletes and coaches who are about to be honored and become famous, as well.

The ghosts whisper to us from the pages of the event program. They applaud from the rafters.

Those who have lived in Oregon long enough can simply close our eyes and see them. Steve Prefontaine on the track at Hayward Field. Clive Charles on the soccer sideline at the University of Portland. The rugged Norm Van Brocklin dropping back to pass.

But even the young can train themselves to see them, and to learn about the other legends of the Oregon Sports Awards — many of whom return each winter just to feel the passion for sports again.

It’s like a Night at the Museum, minus Ben Stiller and Sacagawea.

These ghosts and living legends are a big part of what we who organize and produce the Oregon Sports Awards celebrate every year, and wish to pass down from one generation to the next.

You see, a thread of greatness runs from one end to the other of this event’s long history. The first Hayward Banquet of Champions gave out honors for 1948, and to recite merely some of the award winners since then is like reading from an hallowed encyclopedia (or Wikipedia).

by: COURTESY OF JOHN LARIVIERE - Brian Grant, former Trail Blazers star, announces the winner of the prep basketball player of the year awards.We tend to speak of them in hushed, reverential tones, as complete sentences.

Pre. Bill Bowerman. Terry Baker. Mel Renfro. Don Schollander. Dick Fosbury. Mary Slaney. Dan O’Brien. Joni Huntley. Dan Fouts. Dale Murphy. Mickey Lolich. Johnny Pesky. Mariel Zagunis. Anna Maria Lopez. Charlie Sitton. Tinker Hatfield. Harry Glickman. Bill Schonely. Jack Ramsay. Ralph Miler. Pokey Allen. Mouse Davis. Rich Brooks. Ad Rutschman. Paul Allen.

To us, these names alone are enough said.

And the above list doesn’t even include the Trail Blazers players who have walked off with trophies at this event.

Sunday’s 62nd Oregon Sports Awards show was laden, as usual, with young talent and class — from the familiar, winning face of Liz Brenner to rising star Damian Lillard to a multitude of high school champions to Special Olympics honoree Travis Koski, and more.

I have little doubt that 20, 30, 50 years from now, people will attend the Oregon Sports Awards and say, “I can still remember when Damian Lillard came to the Blazers,” or “Those Portland Winterhawks must have been amazing in 2013,” or “Wish I could have seen Haley Crouser throw the javelin,” or “Wonder what it was like to watch that first Portland Thorns team play?”

I invite Sunday’s honorees to attend the show again for years to come. Someday, you will be the ones people look at in the lobby and perhaps recognize with a bit of awe.

“Wow, English Gardner is here tonight. She looks like she could still win the 100 meters!” they will say. “Hey, there’s Gigi Stoll, she was an incredible golfer. Look, that’s Caleb Porter — I remember him.”