The 77th annual Sports Star of the Year awards program, presented by ROOT Sports, is Wednesday at Benaroya Hall in downtown Seattle (200 University Street). Tickets are available at benaroyahall.org or by calling 206-215-4747.
Launched as the Man of the Year banquet in 1935 by late Seattle Post-Intelligencer sports editor Royal Brougham, the show grew into the P-I Sports Star of the Year program in 1977 and expanded again in the early 1990s, when the newspaper began recognizing the area’s greatest male and female sports achievers.
But with the help of the Seattle Sports Commission and Seattle Children’s Hospital, the Sports Star of the Year celebrated its 75th year on the big stage at Benaroya Hall in 2009. More than 1,000 people attended.
A winner will be selected from five nominees for the Female Sports Star of the Year by an online ballot process that closed Friday.
COURTNEY VANDERSLOOT, Gonzaga Basketball
A graduate of Kentwood High, Vandersloot led the Gonzaga women’s team to a 31-5 record and a trip to the Elite Eight in the 2011 NCAA Tournament. Much decorated, Vandersloot is the only player in West Coast Conference history selected league Player of the Year three times (2009-11) and the only player in the history of the conference named WCC Tournament Most Valuable Player three times (2009-11).
Vandersloot won two major awards. After averaging 19.8 points, 8.4 rebounds, 10.2 assists (she set an NCAA record for assists in a season) and 3.2 steals per game as a senior, Vandersloot received the Francis Pomeroy Naismith Award as the top Division I player 5-foot-8 or under, and the Nancy Lieberman Award as the top point guard in Division I.
She made first-team All-America and first-team All-WCC (for the fourth time in her career).
Vandersloot had a tremendous impact on womens basketball at Gonzaga. Prior to her arrival, the Zags averaged 1,492 fans per game with an NCAA Tournament squad. By her senior year, attendance jumped to 3,824.
Following her Gonzaga career, Vandersloot went to the Chicago Sky of the WNBA. She played well enough as a rookie to make the WNBA All-Star team as an Eastern Conference reserve.
Fellow Gonzaga alum John Stockton, a Hall of Famer, said of Vandersloot, I dont want to dramatize it too much, but shes like Gretzky in hockey. There is something that separates Courtney from others.
JENN SALLING, UW Softball
Salling was selected to the Lowes Senior Class All-America team, chosen the Pac-10 Defensive Player of the Year, selected as a NFCA second-team All-American, and named All-Pac-10 following her senior season at the University of Washington. She also won the teams Golden Glove award.
During her final season in the program, Salling ranked T-10 (single season) in batting average (.343), T-8 in triples (7), sixth in walks (97), ninth in slugging percentage (.543), fifth in on-base percentage (.474) and 10th in hit by pitch (9).
She led the Huskies in doubles and triples and ranked No. 2 on the team in hits, at-bats, runs and RBIs. Salling played in all 53 Husky contests.
Salling began her college career at the University of Oregon (2007), then transferred to Washington for her sophomore season in 2009.
A British Columbia native, Salling took 2008 off from collegiate competition to represent her country in the Olympic Games in Beijing, China, along with former Husky pitcher Danielle Lawrie.
For the 2011 Huskies, Sallings notable moments occurred Feb. 11, when she banged a pair of home runs in the season-opening doubleheader; Feb. 25, when she delivered a game-winning RBI against Cal State Fullerton; Feb. 26, when she came up a home run shy of the cycle in a win over Cal Poly; and April 23, when she produced a game-winning home run.
Following the season, Salling was selected third in the National Pro Fastpitch draft, going to the USSSA Pride.
JULIE WOODWARD, Seattle University Soccer
Woodward earned her 200th career head coaching avictory at her alma mater, leading the Redhawks to a 12-6-1 record in her 15th season.
She is the all-time winningest coach in program history, having produced 14 winning campaigns.
Woodward is a former two-time NAIA All-America selection. She starred as a defender for four years and was selected to the Northwest Collegiate All-Conference Team four times between 1989 and 1993. She was also a four-time member of the NAIA All-District Team.
Woodward was twice selected to the National Soccer Coaches Association of America (NSCAA) All-West Region Team (1992, 1993) and helped guide Seattle University to the semifinals of the NAIA National Soccer Championship in 1993.
In May 2008, Woodward (for her exploits as a player), entered the Seattle University Athletic Hall of Fame (one of the first two women soccer players inducted).
After her playing career, Woodward entered the coaching ranks, serving three years as an assistant soccer coach at the University of Montana. She returned to Seattle U. in 1997.
Woodward’s best record was in 2007 when the Redhawks went 17-3-1. Overall, Woodwards teams have won 206 games, lost 29 and tied 26.
During her Seattle U. tenure, Woodward has overseen the transition of the schools soccer program to the Division 1 level. She is a resident of West Seattle.
MADDIE MEYERS, Northwest High track
The Northwest High School and West Seattle resident/runner concluded an amazing high school career with a convincing win in the state cross country championships, an event that she swept in all four years, along with eight track titles.
Meyers broke her own national high school record while finishing sixth, with a time of 6 minutes and 29 seconds, at the 2,000-meter steeplechase at the IAAF World Youth Championships in Lille, France.
Striking about Meyers is her versatility: During the 2011 outdoor season, she competed in numerous races, including 400 meters (best time of 60.49, BCS Invite), 800 meters (2:12.23, Emerald City Championships), 1,600 meters (4:46.85, 1A state championships), one mile (4:49.02, Pasco Invitational), 3,200 meters (10:18.46, Pasco Invitational), 2K Steeplechase (6:44.20) and javelin.
Meyers hasnt just competed locally. Last June, she won the 2,000-meter steeplechase on the first day of the USA Youth Outdoor Track & Field Championships in Myrtle Beach, SC. Her time of 6:32.02 was a national record.
In 2010, she traveled to New York City and won the Jim Ryun Dream Mile, clocking 4:41.93 at Icahn Stadium on Randalls Island.
In August, USA Today selected Meyers to its All-USA girls high school track team. Meyers became one of two state residents so honored (Christine Kirkwood of Othello in the javelin).
Meyers has been running competitively for five years, since she was a sixth grader in middle school.
QUEEN UNDERWOOD, USA Boxing
Queen Underwoods ambition is to win a gold medal at the 2012 London Games, where womens boxing will make its Olympic debut. Her passion for the gold is fueled in part by the fact that she was abused as a child and survived the ordeal by dreaming of one day doing something extraordinary.
One day, she told an interviewer, I’m going to be ‘Queen of the Ring’ and nobody will ever hurt me again. One day, I won’t be 12 years old and feeling helpless; one day I’ll be strong and unstoppable. This is the dream that kept me from losing my mind in the midst of abuse and violation.”
A Garfield High School graduate who trains at Cappys Boxing Gym in the Central District, Underwood took another step to realizing her dream by capturing her fifth consecutive U.S. Lightweight Boxing championship at the 132-pound weight class last summer in Colorado Springs, CO, defeating Floridian Tiara Brown on points 23-21.
Underwood started boxing at 18, seven years before the sport was voted onto the Olympic calendar. International sports officials perceived boxing to be too dangerous for women, though women have suffered few serious injuries in the ring.
In 2009, the International Olympic Committee gave the sport the green light, nudged by the fact that men’s boxing was the only summer Olympic sport lacking a female counterpart.
Underwood told KOMO that when the Games arrive, she will be ready. Im going there with gold on my mind, she said, and Im going there feeling unstoppable.
The Seattle Sports Star of the Year awards program is at Benaroya Hall Wednesday. Created by Royal Brougham and the Seattle Post-Intelligencer in 1936 and currently presented by the Seattle Sports Commission, the Star of the Year recognizes professional and amateur athletic achievement. Tickets are $35 (show only) and $75 (pre-show reception and show). Each can be purchased at benaroyahall.org or by calling 206-215-4747. The $75 ticket includes admission to the show and the reception where complimentary beverages, including beer and wine, and heavy appetizers will be provided. You can find more information here,