Two coaches, one high school and one middle school, and a familiar face in Spokane television were recipients of 2009 Inland Northwest Sportswriters and Broadcasters 25-Year Awards.
John Drager, for 32 years a football and basketball coach at Mullan High in Idaho, Nancy Gilbert, who for as long coached multiple sports at Greenacres Middle School in the Central Valley District, and Bud Nameck received plaques Wednesday in the Spokane Convention Center.
The awards are given each year during the annual Youth Awards Luncheon to recognize longtime extraordinary achievement in sports-related endeavors.
Nameck came here from California three decades ago as sports information director at Gonzaga University and moved to KXLY-TV as an award-winning sports anchor.
He has gone on to talk radio and play-by-play announcing for Washington State University football and done color work in football.
During his 13 years on television, Nameck won an Emmy award, was named Washington Sportscaster of the year and has been involved in numerous sports organizations, including SWABS and the Inland Northwest Hall of Fame.
Drager had an enviable record at Mullan, winning 14 North Star League titles each in football and basketball, with two state 11-man titles and trips to state basketball. His career ended after the 1997 season. He’s a legend in the small Idaho town for driving the team bus to away games and touching the lives of countless athletes.
Although not a teacher, Gilbert was hired at Greenacres in 1978 and coached year-round teaching young athletes five sports a year for 32 years. It led to her becoming a basketball official for 27 seasons and she worked several state tournaments, including the final combined Class B tournament in Spokane.
Two acclaimed mountain climbers, Kay LeClaire and Dawes Eddy were honored with Dick Wright Certificate of Excellence awards. The award is named for the late INW Hall of Fame broadcaster and SWABS president.
Three days apart last May LeClaire, at age 60, and Eddy, 66, became the oldest female and United States male, respectively, to reach the summit of Mt. Everest.
The accomplishment came on LeClaire’s fourth attempt as she completed climbs of the “Seven Summits,” the highest points on seven continents and has scaled 30 significant peaks since taking up the sport in 2000.
Eddy’s feat completed a two-month journey as part of the International Mountain Guides team. He was the focus of a high-altitude health research project by a group of physicians testing their theories on aging and altitude.