New Inland Northwest Sportswriters and Broadcasters 25-Year Award winners George Chalich and Jack Spring have something in common.
Both have been finalists for Athlete of the Year at Spokane’s annual Sports Awards Banquet that has been in existence for 47 years.
“Some of you won’t know this, but I was one of the first to be nominated,” said Chalich, who as the City League basketball record scorer at Central Valley High School was a finalist in 1948.
Chalich lost out to pro boxer Joey Velez. Back then, all athletes were lumped into one category, not separated into amateur and professional as today.
Spring’s nomination came in the 1960s, while he was playing professional baseball.
“At the time, I was at the peak of my career, a guy named Maury Wills (Los Angeles Dodger shortstop and base stealer par exellence who lived here in the off-season) was setting records every year.”
The oldest of five Chalich brothers and their children to play at CV and University high schools, Chalich went from record-setting athlete to college player, high school coach and official. A half century later, he still referees basketball and umpires baseball games in the area. Chalich is also active in the Serbian community.
A Spokane native, Spring was a successful baseball coach and later activities coordinator at West Valley High School after leaving professional baseball.
He retired last June after a 44-year career in athletics.
The 25-Year Awards are given annually for exceptional contributions to area athletics.
Eagles a win away from crown
West Valley boys basketball teams have put together a run under coach Joe Feist that is unrivaled in the Frontier League.
With Thursday’s 74-67 over runnerup Pullman on the road, the Eagles are on the threshold of their fifth straight league championship and seventh in eight years.
One win in the team’s final three games - against Colville and Cheney next weekend and at East Valley on Feb. 17 - would assure WV of at least a tie for the crown.
Since Feist took over the helm in 1987, the Eagles have been part of a three-way title tie in 1988 and 1994 and a two-way tie in 1989. They have won three other championships outright.
To date, Feist’s record is 167-55.
Gymnastics academy hosts meet
Northwest Gymnastics Academy hosted a Men’s USGF meet at its Valley location last week.
NWGA placers included Ryan Welborn who won four events, floor exercise, pommel horse, rings and vault.
In Class 3 age 12-13 Aaron Sheck won pommel horse, rings, parallel bars and high bar. Tyson Byers won floor exercise, vault and was second on pommel horse in the 10-11 group.
In age 16-18 Chris Jones won floor and was second on vault while Mike Rusca won pommel horse, rings and vault.
Class 4 12-13 competitor Brian Veltagui was first allaround with three first and a second. He beat Nick Antich who was second in three events. Other placers were Glen Hannibal, first on vault and second on pommel horse and Ryan Brewer, second on vault.
Half a dozen NWGA class 6 athletes won events and finished high in the all-around scoring. Included were David Novak and Kevin Olson in ages 10-11, Ben Hawkins in age 12-13 and Stewart Renz, Isaac Olson and Paul Hannibal in ages 7-9.
Valley Junior Soccer registration
Registration for spring session of Spokane Valley Junior Soccer Association is now in progress for players ages 5-14.
Games will be played Saturdays from April 1 through May 13 with a tournament May 20-21.
Entry deadline is Feb. 10 and registration forms can be obtained at E12505 Sprague on the second floor of the Olympic Sports building.
For information call the office at 922-7910.
xxxx Coming up
Today Basketball: Freeman hosts Kettle Falls, 6:15 p.m. (girls) and 8 p.m. (boys); Valley Christian is at Sprague-Harrington, 5:45 p.m. (girls) and 7:30 p.m. (boys). Wrestling: Greater Spokane League district tournament at Mead, 8:30 a.m.; Frontier League district tournament at Pullman, noon; Northeast A-B district tournament at Deer Park.
Monday Basketball: Valley Christian School is in the Bi-County tournament at Reardan.
Tuesday Basketball: Freeman hosts Riverside, 6:15 p.m. (girls) and 8 p.m. (boys); Central Valley plays Ferris in the Coliseum, 7:15 p.m. (boys) and 9 p.m. (girls); University is at Lewis and Clark, 6:15 p.m. (boys) and 8 p.m. (girls).