BY Art Thiel 11:00AM 02/01/2018

Five honorees selected for Sports Star of Year

Retired Sen. Slade Gorton, ESPN 710’s John Clayton and Seattle Pacific University’s legendary distance runner Doris Brown Heritage will be honored at the Feb. 8 event.

In front of the big screen, KIRO-TV’s Steve Raible and ESPN’s Kenny Main hosted last year’s Sports Star of the Year. / Seattle Sports Commission

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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


  • 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


  • 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


  • 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 To stay up-to-date with information as the event approaches, follow the Seattle Sports Commission Twitter account, @SeattleSC, or the event hashtag, #83SSY.


  • jafabian

    Enough can’t be said about Slade Gorton’s contributions to professional sports. He was even brought in to consult when Clay Bennett was in the process of moving the Sonics though IIRC the mayor’s office didn’t listen to him. Slade never came across as a sports geek but a polished politician who had what it takes to get the job done. Also appreciate John Clayton getting recognized as that I’ve always enjoyed his work but when is Art Thiel going to get some love??? (Apologies if you have and I just don’t remember)

    • Husky73

      Absolutely on Art Thiel. With every column, I ask myself, “Why can’t I write like that?” I am certain that Mr. Gorton is horrified by the state of the Republican party today (as is Dan Evans).

      • SalishSea13

        They saw it coming in waves in the 90s. Repubs with their southern strategy and burning down of any meaningful compromise. Other then that ..I do believe supporting professional sports by taxing all to create odes to the billionaire owners is not an accomplishment but a set back.

        • art thiel

          Understand your point about public subsidy, but the 1972 suit was protecting a public asset unfairly surrendered out of state. And finding a buyer for the Mariners was another rescue of an asset.

          But he was part of muscling the public funding for Safeco, so if you want to strip a medal from his chest, feel free.

      • art thiel

        Keep writing like that, Husky, and I’ll . . . keep writing like that.

      • Realist

        If Gorton and Evans are horrified by the state of the GOP, they’re keeping it to themselves. When the history of the fall of the American republic is written, multiple chapters will be devoted to the complicity of Republican “leadership.”

        • B-squared

          I know I’m late to the party, but c’mon man. Give it a rest. Let’s focus on sports for once. is only a click away.

    • art thiel

      Gorton’s lawsuit that pantsed the AL owners was damn near majestic, and his diplomatic twist of Yamauchi’s arm was a prime example of soft power.

      I have plenty of love from readers like you, John.

  • Husky73

    All wonderfully deserving. I believe Mr. Gittinger’s daughter passed recently. Her obit was in the Times. Give Luke Falk the award, just for surviving five years of Mike Price.

    • art thiel

      According to Leach, Luke is fine. Never better. He’s ready to play in the Holiday Bowl.

  • Eric Degerman

    There’s a typo within the caption for last year’s photo – should read Mayne, not Main.