DAN FITZGERALD – Basketball (Coach)
Dan Fitzgerald is widely remembered as the man who laid the foundation for Gonzaga University’s basketball success over the past 20 years as well as, according to Spokane columnist John Blanchette, “one of Spokane’s most irrepressible personalities.”
Originally from San Francisco, Fitzgerald initially came to Gonzaga as an assistant coach for two years in the mid-1970s before taking over as head basketball coach in 1978. A few months after taking the men’s basketball job, he also took over as Athletic Director. He was a big supporter of Gonzaga’s move in 1979 from the Big Sky Conference to what is now the West Coast Conference.
Following his first three years as head coach, Fitzgerald stepped down to focus on his role as AD, but he took over the program again in 1985 and maintained the position until 1997. Over his 15 year coaching career, Gonzaga compiled a 252-171 record and earned its first-ever postseason appearances. The Bulldogs appeared in the NIT in 1994 and their first NCAA Tournament in 1995.
Fitzgerald’s greatest player recruit was future NBA Hall of Famer John Stockton, who came to Gonzaga in 1980, but he was also quite the recruiter of coaching talent. He hired talented assistants Don Monson and Mark Few, who succeeded him in order as head coach at Gonzaga, as well as Bill Grier, who became head coach at the University of San Diego.
Fitzgerald was noted for his humor and bluntness. When he stepped down as head coach and athletic director in 1997 and wanted to pass the job to Monson, he claimed to have told one college administrator who doubted the move, “Here’s why you don’t have a national search: one, you don’t have enough money. Two, you’re so dumb, you’ll hire the guy with the best tie.”
After concluding his career at Gonzaga, Fitzgerald worked in private business in the Spokane area for the remainder of his life. He passed away of a heart attack in 2010 at the age of 67.
BERNIE FRYER – Basketball
Not many athletes both play and officiate at the highest level of their sport, but Bernie Fryer is one of the few. He played in the NBA and ABA from 1973-75, but he left his mark on the league as an official over a 30-year career from 1978-2007.
Born on Christmas Day 1949, Fryer earned all-state honors as a football and basketball star at Port Angeles High School. He scored 57 points in the community college title game to lead Peninsula College to victory and also spent time at University of Washington before playing two years at Brigham Young University and earning All-WAC recognition.
A 6-foot-3-inch guard, Fryer was drafted in the seventh round of the 1972 draft by the Phoenix Suns, although he never played for the Suns. During his two-year pro career, he played for Portland and New Orleans in the NBA and the St. Louis Spirits of the ABA. Perhaps the biggest moment of his professional playing career came when he was sitting on the bench in New Orleans and realized, as he later told Sports Illustrated, that “I would never become the best player, but I might become the best official if I put in the effort and the years.”
He put in both the effort and the years, and sure enough, Fryer is now considered among the best officials in league history. He called 1,696 regular season games, 157 playoff games, and 12 NBA Finals games, making headlines in 2007 when he quit after Game 3 of the Finals in a move interpreted as expressing displeasure with the way the NBA oversaw and managed officials. He proceeded to serve as the NBA Vice President and Director of Officials from 2008-11 and later served as an adviser to the league.
KEN GRIFFEY JR. – Baseball
Admitted to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 2016 with a record 99.3 percent of the vote, Ken Griffey Jr. played 13 of his 22 years as a Mariner. “The Kid” is sixth on the all-time list with 630 home runs, 417 of them smacked as a Mariner. Six of his seven seasons with 40 or more home runs were in Seattle and he tied a major-league record with home runs in eight consecutive games in 1993.
Junior was the first player taken in the 1987 draft and earned American League MVP honors as a Mariner in 1997. This once-in-a-generation player was also called “The Natural.
Griffey was a thirteen-time All Star, twelve times as a Mariner. A true five-tool player, he earned 10 Gold Gloves with his often-spectacular centerfield play for the M’s. Junior’s dash from first to score the winning run on Edgar Martinez’ double in Game 5 of the 1995 ALDS versus the Yankees represents the most iconic moment in Mariners history to many–a win that helped secure baseball’s future in Seattle.
JASON HANSON – Football
One of the most prolific kickers in football history, Jason Hanson truly defined what it meant to be a lifelong Detroit Lion. He spent 21 years with the team, setting NFL records for most years and games (321) played with one team, and he is the only player in league history to score 2,000 points for one franchise.
During that lengthy career, Hanson compiled a record 52 field goals of at least 50 yards and also holds the record for most 40-yard field goals with 189. When he retired following the 2012 season, he ranked third on the NFL career scoring list (2,150 points) and third in career field goals (495). From 2007-09, he set a league record by making 24 consecutive field goal attempts of 40 yards or longer. Hanson’s performance on the field earned him a pair of Pro Bowl selections and five NFL Special Teams Player of the Month awards. He was inducted into the Lions’ Ring of Honor months after his retirement.
Prior to his record-setting NFL career, Hansen was a dominant kicker at Mead High School and Washington State University. He was a three-sport athlete at Mead (football, basketball, and soccer) and an all-state kicker while maintaining a 4.0 grade point average. At Washington State, he earned All-America honors in 1989 and set numerous NCAA, conference, and school records. He set a program record with a 62-yard field goal against UNLV in 1991 and holds conference records for most field goals from 50 yards or more (20) and from 40 yards or more (39). He maintained a 3.7 GPA in college and also served as the punter during his final two years on the team. His performance with the Cougars earned recognition as a member of the Pac-12 “All-Century Team” in 2015 and induction into the College Academic All-America Hall of Fame in 2018.
Many kids watch the Olympics and aspire to compete; few kids actually achieve that goal. Megan Jendrick became one of those success stories and achieved multiple gold medals all at the age of 16.
After watching Amanda Beard swim in the 1996 Olympics at age 14, Jendrick – then 12 – proclaimed to her parents, “I’m going to the 2000 Olympics.” Not only did she go at age 16, but she won a gold medal in the 100-meter breaststroke with a time of 1:07.05 and earned another gold as a member of a medley relay team that set a world record. She was the youngest female medalist on the US Swim Team, and her success led to appearances on television programs including “The Today Show” and a picture on the cover of Sports Illustrated.
After narrowly missing the 2004 Olympic team, Jendrick returned for the 2008 Olympics and won a silver medal in the medley relay. She retired from competitive swimming at age 29 after setting 27 US records and four world records in a career that included 13 national championships and 10 US Open championships. She finished her career with a total of more than a dozen medals in prestigious meets including the World Championships, Goodwill Games, and World University Games.
A graduate of Emerald Ridge High School, Jendrick attended Pacific Lutheran University and graduated from Arizona State University. She has written a fitness column, authored “Get Wet Get Fit, The Complete Guide to Getting a Swimmer’s Body” and co-authored the children’s book “Christmas is Coming” with her husband Nathan, with whom she has two children. She was honored in 2006 as the female recipient of the national Henry Iba Citizen Athlete Award the same year Washington native Drew Bledsoe was named the male recipient.
Steve Raible played six years for the Seahawks at wide receiver, but today he’s best known to fans as the “Voice of the Seahawks” on the team’s radio network. He joined the late Pete Gross in the radio booth in 1982 as the team’s color commentator, staying in the role for 22 seasons before becoming the lead play-by-play announcer in 2004. Some of his signature phrases include “Touchdown Seahawks!” “Holy Catfish!” and “Are you kidding me?!” after particularly exciting plays.
Raible joined KIRO-TV as a sports reporter in 1982 and has served as news anchor since 1993. He has won five regional Emmy Awards, two of them for “Best Anchor,” and has covered everything from Olympic Games to presidential races and summer telecasts of Seattle hydroplane races and Blue Angels airshows.
Originally from Louisville, Ky., Raible played tight end in the wishbone offense at Georgia Tech, where he played in the famous “Rudy Game.” He was a second round pick in the 1976 draft for Seattle, where he played in 84 games and caught 68 passes for 1,017 yards and three touchdowns.
Raible has been so active in the community, particularly as emcee for charity events, that Washington state Governor Christine Gregoire proclaimed May 4, 2005, as “Steve Raible Day” in his honor. He co-authored the book “Tales from the Seahawk Sidelines.”
RICK RIZZS – Sportscaster
Rick Rizzs might be an Illinois native, but he’s been a Seattle institution as a broadcaster for the Seattle Mariners for nearly 35 years.
Rizzs grew up listening to Cubs sportscaster Jack Brickhouse, imitating Brickhouse’s voice along with the muted television broadcast of Cubs games. He played baseball at Southern Illinois University before switching roles to team broadcaster as a junior, beginning what would become his life-long career.
Just like with a baseball playing career, Rizzs worked his way up through the minor leagues, broadcasting for teams in Alexandria, La.; Amarillo, Tex.; Memphis, Ten.; and Columbus, Ohio. While in Columbus, he also broadcast Ohio State University football games and earned Ohio Sportscaster of the Year honors.
In 1983, Rizzs received his call-up to the majors with the Mariners as both a radio and TV broadcaster. His only absence since then came in 1992-94, when he briefly served as broadcaster for the Detroit Tigers. He switched to radio-only in 2007 and became the team’s lead broadcaster in 2010 following the death of Baseball Hall of Famer Dave Niehaus. Some of his most famous phrases include, “Goodbye, baseball!” when a Mariner hits a home run and “Here are the happy totals” when leading into a game recap following a team victory.
Rizzs is also an active contributor to the local community. In 1995, he joined with former Mariner Dave Henderson to start the charity organization Toys for Kids.
SUGAR RAY SEALES – Boxing
“Sugar” Ray Seales, a product of the Tacoma Boxing Club, was the only American boxer to win a gold medal in the 1972 Summer Olympics in Munich. As an amateur under coach Joe Clough he amassed a record of 338-12. His professional record was 57-8-3.
Seales was born in the Virgin Islands on Sept. 4, 1952 where his father was stationed in the U.S. Army. The family moved to Tacoma, WA in 1965 and Seales graduated from Stadium High School in 1971.
At six feet tall, Seales had a decided reach advantage over many of his opponents in the Light Welterweight Division. This helped him become the 1971 National AAU Champion in that class, North American Amateur Champion,West Coast Golden Gloves Champion and 1972 National Golden Gloves 139-pound champion before turning pro. Hisearlier winning bouts would have qualified him for the 1968 Olympics, but as a 16 year old, he was ineligible to compete.
A Middleweight contender in the 1970s and early1980s, Seales held U. S. and North American titles during his career. Sugar Ray fought Marvin Hagler three times with the best result a draw in their second bout. He suffered a retinal tear in a 1980 fight, and was forced to retire after being declared legally blind.
After his boxing career, the charismatic Seales worked with autistic students at Lincoln High School in Tacoma for 17 years. In 2007, he moved to Indianapolis where he coached boxing and was inducted into Indiana Boxing Hall of Fame. An affable person who liked to carry his gold medal in his pocket and allow people to hold it, Sugar Ray told one reporter, “It’s my American Express Card – I don’t leave home without it.”