Popular Then & Now series hits century mark Tuesday

SUNDAY, OCT. 11, 2009

A little more than two years ago we started a feature called Then & Now in an attempt to catch up with former area athletes.

Race car driver Chad Little was our first subject on Sept. 18, 2007. Tuesday, former Gonzaga Prep and University of Idaho athlete Mike Keogh will mark the 100th Then & Now feature.

That’s a pretty good milestone, especially considering we missed just nine Tuesdays in that two-year period.

When we started the feature we really didn’t have an idea of how long we could sustain it. It seems, however, that the possibilities are endless. We’ve caught up with athletes in 19 sports or outdoor pursuits. Features on basketball players (26) and football players (23) top a diverse list that includes rifle shooting, orienteering, figure skating and gymnastics among others.

Our criteria for consideration of Then & Now features is pretty loose. There is one requirement: The athletes we feature all competed on a local stage at one point in their career. Being a superstar in high school or college is not a criteria. Having an interesting story to tell is more important. The “Now” part of the feature is more often than not more important than the “Then” part of the feature.

We prefer to target people who are no longer in the spotlight. A great candidate is a former athlete who has used his athletic training to succeed beyond athletics and has an interesting story to tell. Tuesday’s story about Keogh is a perfect example of that.

Keogh, who flew Blackhawk helicopters and took part in the U.S. invasion into Panama that removed Manuel Noriega from power, talks about how his athletic career benefited him in the military:

“Being in the military, you’re leading men,” he said. “Part of leading is leading from the front. That means physically as well as intellectually. Being an athlete, I was able to keep up or beat guys in certain things. That seems to add credibility. Anything we did, I was always out front.”

Staff writer Dave Trimmer has written more than half of these features, but every writer on staff has contributed to this series. Most of the ideas come from within the department, but we have had numerous suggestions from others.

We welcome ideas from readers. If you catch yourself wondering, “Whatever happened to …?” or you know of an interesting story of a former athlete, give me a call or drop me an e-mail. I can’t promise a story with every suggestion, but it will be worth looking into.

Sports editor Joe Palmquist can be reached by phone at 459-5503 or by e-mail at


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