A year of controversy, achievement and change

Years from now, most of us won’t be thinking about sports stories when we look back on 2001. We’ll be thinking about Sept. 11.

Osama Bin Laden, not Ichiru, will come to mind.

But let’s forget about Osama and Sept. 11, and even Ichiru for that matter. What were the biggest sports stories in our own backyard?

We didn’t have any stories that played on the national stage. Last time I checked, Margaret “Tiger” McGregor hadn’t made a comeback. You remember McGregor, the former Sebeck fighter who made history by becoming the first woman to take on a man in a sanctioned boxing match?

But there were plenty of athletes, coaches, teams and issues that were impossible to ignore. What follows, in no particular order, is one man’s list of top 10 2001 sports stories for the Central Kitsap Reporter’s readership area.

Todd Linden. Negotiations dragged on through the summer, but the 1998 Central Kitsap grad eventually signed a contract with the San Francisco Giants, who made him the 41st pick in Major League Baseball’s draft in June. Linden, a power-hitting outfielder, played two years at the University of Washington before transferring to Lousiana State University, where he hit .312 with 20 home runs and 76 RBI in 66 games.

Athletic facilities. It’s been a good year for an area that’s lagged behind the curve when it comes to providing first-class recreational facilities. Pendergast Park finally got lights for its three softball/youth baseball fields. The Kitsap County Fairgrounds was recently awarded a huge chunk of dough ($4.2 million) from the Public Facilities District. The county’s plans aren’t firm, but they’ve talked about turning the Kitsap Pavilion into a multi-use sports fieldhouse, upgrading the exisiting baseball and softball/soccer fields and laying artificial turf at Thunderbird Stadium.

There’s also plans to build an ice arena at the Fairgrounds. And a much-needed indoor soccer facility, located at Pendergast Park, just opened.

Dick Thompson. The man who founded the successful and nationally-recognized Diamond Dusters fastpitch program in 1988 is now wearing the purple and white of the Snohomish Sidewinders. He’s still coaching a lot of the same local athletes who wore the Diamond Dusters’ red and black a year ago.

Thompson had “philosophical differences” with people currently involved with the Dusters. Suffice to say, there’s a lot more to this story than what’s been reported.

Tom Oliver. Another man caught up in controversy, Oliver ended his 10-year run at King’s West. The Warriors’ former girls basketball coach and athletic director was dismissed and rehired by the Crista Ministries-owned school the previous year. Oliver took the Warriors to the state B tournament for the fifth time in six years in 2001. He’s now an assistant principal and athletic director at Lakeside High School, a Class 2A school just north of Spokane.

Coaching changes. Central Kitsap, with the hiring of three new coaches last week, now has six first-year coaches to go with first-year athletic director John Sitton. The new coaches: Al Gleich (boys basketball), Vicky Webb (girls soccer), Jim Northcutt (wrestling), Marc Hansen (baseball), Rob Cole (boys soccer) and Murray Webb (girls golf)

Olympic High’s in need of new football coach after Pete Weymiller resigned after just two seasons.

I’ve talked to several coaches in the district since taking this job less than three months ago, and the message comes through loud and clear. There’s a general feeling of apathy towards athletics in the CK School District. It comes from the top, and it’s been that way since cuts were made following a levy failure a decade ago. Stayed tuned, because this is one story that won’t go away, not even during another levy year.

Lawrence Ng. This young man from Central Kitsap ended his senior season with a 37-1 record and his arm raised over his head after winning a state title at the Tacoma Dome. It was the third year in a row that the Cougars produced a state champion. Preston Chadwick won titles in 1999 and 2000.

Hilary Crisman. The Klahowya senior ended her prep soccer career with 104 goals and a ton of memories. The Eagles, Nisqually League champions, competed in the state 2A playoffs four straight years during her era, reaching the quarterfinals in 1998, winning a state championship in 1999, placing fourth in 2000 and reaching the first round in 2001.

Crisman plans to attend Western Washington University.

Clint Corey/rodeo. Corey probably makes the list every year. The Central Kitsap graduate, now 40, is one of just two cowboys to qualify for all 17 National Final Rodeos in Las Vegas. Last month, the bareback rider won more than $84,186 at the NFR to finish third in the overall world standings and earn a spot in the Olympiad Rodeo at the 2002 Olympic Games, Feb. 9-11 in Salt Lake City, Utah.

Corey still wears the title of Kitsap’s hometown cowboy, even though he lives in Powell Butte, Ore. And Corey’s hometown rodeo, the Kitsap Stampede, continues to gain acclaim. Cowboys, for the second straight year, voted the Stampede the top rodeo in the Columbia Circuit. Purses were recently raised to $7,500 per event and there’s been preliminary talks with the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association about getting the Stampede televised by ESPN2.

Barry Janusch. After building one of the most respected men’s basketball programs in the NWAACC, Janusch decided it was time to devote more time to his duties as athletic director at Olympic College. Janusch was 141-110 during his nine-year tenure at the community college, sending several players to four-year schools.

Central Kitsap boys soccer. The Olympic League champion Cougars earned the West Sound region some respect by becoming the the first team to win a first-round state playoff game at the Class 4A level.

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