The Inland Northwest Sports Hall of Fame on Tuesday grew by five, four prominent figures that have left indelible imprints on the sports community and one, an Olympic medalist, you’ve probably never heard of.
Spokane Chiefs and Indians owner Bobby Brett, former Chiefs standout Pat Falloon, basketball coach and author Jerry Krause, Indian Canyon golf pro Gary Lindeblad and the late Carl Johnson were inducted during ceremonies at the Spokane Arena.
Moses Lake broadcaster Mel Olson and long-time sportswriter Mike Vlahovich were added to the Scroll of Honor. The two have combined to cover prep sports for roughly 100 years.
It was nearly 100 years ago that Johnson began a brief, but brilliant track and field career that was essentially forgotten until being unearthed by the research of The Spokesman-Review columnist John Blanchette, a Hall of Fame committee member.
Johnson won four events at the 1915 all-city track and field meet, which consisted of two schools at the time. Impressed local boosters raised $350 to send Lewis and Clark’s Johnson and North Central’s Evan Pearson to a national meet in Chicago run by Amos Alonzo Stagg. Johnson took second in the 220-yard low hurdles, fourth in the high jump and won the long jump in 23 feet, 41/2 inches, less than an inch from breaking the national prep record.
Johnson’s long-jump mark “is still on the board at Lewis and Clark, 98 years and counting,” said Blanchette, who served as Johnson’s presenter and called him “a forgotten but all too worthy champion.”
Johnson attended the University of Michigan and won 16 conference titles. Slowed by injuries, he placed sixth in the long jump at the Olympic qualifying meet, but made his way onto the U.S. team when another athlete opted to concentrate on the triple jump. In the final meet of his career, Johnson’s leap of 23-31/4 at the 1920 Olympics in Belgium brought home a silver medal.
Johnson died at the age of 34 of peritonitis, the result of acute appendicitis.
Falloon helped Spokane claim the 1991 Memorial Cup by scoring eight goals in four victories. He rewrote the franchise record book with 146 goals in three seasons.
“An unreal three years,” Falloon said. “We were pretty hard to beat that last year.”
Falloon credited friends, coaches, teammates and family, including the McCoys, his host family in Spokane.
“They took a small-town kid from the middle of Manitoba and not quite 16 years old into their home, not knowing what to expect and treated me like their son,” said Falloon, the second overall pick of the 1991 NHL draft. He scored 143 goals in 575 NHL games from 1991-2000.
Brett purchased the Indians in 1985 and the Chiefs in 1990. The Indians have led the Northwest League in attendance for 14 consecutive years and the Chiefs have won two Memorial Cups and consistently rank among attendance leaders in the Western Hockey League.
“My business plan at the time was very simple,” Brett said. “Hey, let’s buy a minor league baseball team and hopefully we won’t lose too much money and when we go to sell it in a couple years hopefully we’ll get our money back. That’s how much I knew about the sports business when I jumped in.”
Brett thanked numerous administrators with the Chiefs’ and Indians’ organizations.
“The reason I’m at this podium today is the people I’ve had the pleasure to work with along the way,” Brett said.
Krause won 57 percent of his games in 17 years as Eastern Washington’s head coach and he’s been at Gonzaga for 20 years, the last 13 as director of basketball operations. The day after he was fired at EWU, Gonzaga head coach Dan Fitzgerald offered him an assistant coaching position.
Krause has penned 34 books – he’s working on No. 35 – and put together 33 basketball videos. He’s traveled the world conducting camps and clinics. His appetite to learn remains unquenched.
“You can control three things in life – your attitude, your actions and your responses,” Krause said. “As one of my coaching colleagues says quite often crap happens, so how are you going to respond to adversity?”
Lindeblad earned an accounting degree from EWU, but his goal was always to be head pro at Indian Canyon. His first date with his future wife was hitting range balls and he moved their wedding date because he had to work a men’s club tournament at Liberty Lake. The couple will celebrate their 40th anniversary next week.
“The one thing I wanted in my Hall of Fame cubicle was pictures of my kids golfing because those were the best times of my life,” he said. “It wasn’t playing in any tournament or competition. It was golfing with my kids.”
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