Last year’s Sports Star of the Year event at Benaroya Hall brought together Sonics legends Lenny Wilkens and Spencer Haywood. / Scott Eklund, Red Box Pictures
The biggest all-sports party on the Seattle calendar arrives Jan. 22 at Benaroya Hall, when the Seattle Sports Commission presents the 79th Annual MTR Western Sports Star of the Year Awards, the longest-running event of its kind in the U.S.
Created by sports editor Royal Brougham and the Seattle Post-Intelligencer in 1936, the event celebrates the achievements of athletes, coaches and others in the sports industry from across the state.
The Seattle Sports Commission took ownership of the event in 2009. Each of the past two years, more than 1,200 athletes, coaches and fans gathered downtown at elegant Benaroya Hall for the best night out in state sports.
The new format features a pre-show reception where attendees mingle with special guests, and have the opportunity to bid on silent auction items.
VIPs from previous years included Gary Payton, Kenny Mayne, Steve Largent, Hope Solo, Gov. Christine Gregoire, Keith Jackson, Apolo Ohno, Kasey Keller, Lenny Wilkens, Jake Locker, Red Bryant, Kerri Strug, Bob Houbregs, Marcus Trufant and Jay Buhner. The reception is followed by an awards show that showcases the athletes, coaches, executives, philanthropists, and stories of the past and present, with dazzling videos of their feats.
Tickets for the event can be purchased online here: $100 for VIP Reserved that includes the pre-event reception from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m., and $25 for show-only at 7:30 p.m.
Below is the candidate list for three awards being voted on by the public in an online poll found here. They will be honored along with award winners selected by a sports commission committee.
Nominees for Female Sports Star of the Year
- Joan Bonvicini, Seattle University basketball coach — Western Athletic Conference coach of the year who took the Redhawks to the regular-season championship in their first year of Division I play. Ranks 11th in career coaching wins.
- Krista Vansant, UW volleyball — First Husky to be named NCAA player of the the year, the Redlands, CA., junior led Washington to its first Final Four appearance since 2006, and was Pac-12 player of the year and an All-America choice.
- Marti Malloy, USA Judo — Native of Oak Harbor won bronze in 2012 London Olympics, the first American woman to medal in the sport, and in 2013 was second in the World Judo Championships in Brazil and second in the Tokyo Grand Slam.
- Melissa Arnot, mountaineer — Holds the record, five, for most summits of Mt. Everest by a non-Sherpa woman, the Montana native is a guide for Rainier Mountaineering Inc., where she has more than 100 summits.
- Micaela Castain, Washington State soccer — Senior midfielder from Castro Valley, CA., was the first Cougar to be named Pac-12 player of the year. She led the Pac-12 in points and assists and co-led in goals.
- Tina Thompson, Storm basketball — In the absence of Sue Bird and Lauren Jackson, she averaged 14 points and six rebounds to help lead the Storm to the playoffs for the 10th year in a row. She retired after 17 years as the WNBA’s all-time leading scorer.
Nominees for Male Sports Star of the Year
- Bishop Sankey, Washington running back — Gonzaga High graduate set eight career/single-season Huskies rushing records and was second-team All-America, first-team All-Pac 12 and second-team All-Academic. Helped lead Huskies to a 9-4 season.
- DeAndre Yedlin, Sounders defender — O’Dea High graduate played two years at Akron University, then moved into Sounders lineup, starting 32 games as a 19-year-old. Was called up to training camp for the U.S. Men’s National Team preparing for the World Cup.
- Hisashi Iwakuma, Mariners starting pitcher — In his second year with the Mariners and first as a full-time starter, Iwakuma became an All-Star and finished third in League Cy Young voting after a 14-6 record. He ranked second in the AL in WHIP, third in ERA (2.66) and innings (220).
- Jon Lester, Boston Red Sox starting pitcher — A Bellarmine HS-Tacoma graduate in seventh year with Boston, Lester won two games in the World Series after a 15-8 regular season in which he had a career-high 213 IP.
- Russell Wilson, Seahawks quarterback — The first quarterback in NFL history to achieve a passer rating of 100 in each of his first two seasons, Wilson was a two-time selection to the Pro Bowl who helped lead the Seahawks to a playoff win in January 2012 and No. 1 seed in 2013 NFC playoffs.
- University of Washington men’s soccer –Led by first-team All-America selection Taylor Peay and Cristian Roldan, Pac-12 freshman of the year, the Huskies (16-2-4), coached by Jamie Clark, reached the NCAA’s final eight for the first time in program history.
Nominees for the Sports Story of the Year
- Eastlake Little League — The team from Sammamish, coached by Rob Chandler, reached the semifinal of the U.S. Little League World Series in August in Williamsport, PA., and was five outs from the finals when Westport, CN., rallied from a 12-5 deficit to win 14-13.
- Husky Stadium – The $281 million renovation of the 1920 structure, done without public funding, opened Aug. 31 to rave reviews and big win by the Huskies over Boise State.
- Huskies volleyball — Junior All-America selection Krista Vansant helped lead the Huskies to the NCAA Final Four at nearly sold-out KeyArena, where UW fell to Penn State, winners of four of the previous six titles.
- Huskies men’s crew – Winning the IRA Championship Regatta at Lake Natoma, CA., top-ranked Washington, led by coach Michael Callahan, won its third consecutive title and swept all five grand finals. It was the Huskies’ 16th overall national championship.
- The Seahawks’ run – The Seahawks took an 11-5 record into the playoffs and beat the Redskins in Washington, D.C. before losing in Atlanta. The 2013 season picked up from there, winning the NFC West title with a 13-3 record and a first-round bye heading into the 2014 playoffs.
- Seattle University men’s/women’s soccer — Each program won its Western Athletic Conference regular-season and tournament titles. The women’s team became the first at SU to qualify for an NCAA Division I Tournament. The men became the first to qualify for an NCAA men’s tourney since basketball in March 1969. The men became the first SU team to win an NCAA D-I Tournament game since March 1964, beating Creighton Nov. 21. Julie Woodward and Pete Fewing were each named as WAC Coach of the Year.