Ahead of the MTR Western Sports Star of the Year event Feb. 8 at the Seattle Sheraton Hotel, names of five honorees were released Wednesday by the Seattle Sports Commission. The 83rd annual event has four standing awards, whose winners are selected by a committee composed of members of the sports industry, media and historians.
PAUL ALLEN AWARD
Given to an individual who has made a significant or compelling philanthropic contribution.
Slade Gorton: One of the state’s longest-serving political figures played key roles in saving Major League Baseball for Seattle — not once, but twice. As state attorney general in 1972, he sued the American League after the Pilots left, forcing the owners to award a franchise to Seattle in 1977 that became the Mariners. As U.S. Senator in 1991, he connected Japanese billionaire Hiroshi Yamauchi with a group of Seattle-area tech-business leaders to buy the franchise to keep it in town.
KEITH JACKSON AWARD
Given to a member of the media for excellence in communicating the sports stories of our state.
John Clayton: Covering the NFL since he was a high school kid in Pittsburgh, Clayton worked for the Tacoma News Tribune covering the Seahawks before joining ESPN, where he has worked on television, radio and online platforms. Locally, he has worked 950 KJR Sports and now co-hosts a morning show on 710 ESPN. In 2007, he won the McCann Award that put him in the writers’ wing of the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
WAYNE GITTINGER INSPIRATIONAL YOUTH AWARD
Given to an inspirational young athlete who has overcome major medical obstacles to inspire others (two winners this year).
Bretton Chitwood: A Lynden High School senior who refuses to give up hockey despite amputation of his right foot. After bone cancer forced him to endure 30 rounds of chemotherapy and six surgeries, Chitwood returned to practice with a prosthetic device and custom skate, inspiring teammates and countless others with his humor and unwavering grit.
Colton Schmidt: A Special Olympian, the Othello High grad overcame an intellectual disability and health problems to play four sports and coach two middle-school Special Olympics Unified Sports teams. Schmidt, 22, will be a member of the soccer team in Washington’s delegation at the Special Olympics USA Games July 1-6 in Seattle.
ROYAL BROUGHAM AWARD
Given to an individual for a lifetime of achievement in sports and who exemplifies the spirit of our state.
Doris Brown Heritage: The First Lady of American distance running from Seattle Pacific University, she won five international cross country titles in a row from 1967-71. She was a two-time Olympian (1968 and 1972), and at one time owned every American and world record from the 440 to the mile. She is a member of six national halls of fame and had a 33-year career as a teacher and coach.
The public voted on three other categories. Results will be revealed at the event.
FEMALE SPORTS STAR OF THE YEAR
- Ali Aguilar, University of Washington softball
- Jessica Fishlock, Seattle Reign FC
- Taylor Mims, Washington State University volleyball
- Amy-Eloise Neal, University of Washington cross-country
- Chantel Osahor, University of Washington basketball
- Breanna Stewart, Seattle Storm
MALE SPORTS STAR OF THE YEAR
- Doug Baldwin, Seattle Seahawks
- Nelson Cruz, Seattle Mariners
- Luke Falk, Washington State University football
- Stefan Frei, Seattle Sounders FC
- Dante Pettis, University of Washington football
SPORTS STORY OF THE YEAR
- Gonzaga basketball soars to its first Final Four
- Huskies top both pro basketball drafts
- Bidder selected to renovate KeyArena for hockey, hoops
- UW, Western Washington U. women rowers rule
- Sounders make it back to MLS Cup
- Seattle scores big with WNBA All-Stars
Details, including ticket information, can be found at sportsstaroftheyear.org. To stay up-to-date with information as the event approaches, follow the Seattle Sports Commission Twitter account, @SeattleSC, or the event hashtag, #83SSY.