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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper

The Spokesman-Review Newspaper The Spokesman-Review

Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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All doors seem to be open to this area’s athletes

A GRIP ON SPORTS • If you could do anything in sports, what would it be? A Hall of Famer and/or play in the World Series? Throw a touchdown pass in the Super Bowl? Play for an NBA title? Or – my personal favorite – win an Olympic gold medal? Read on.


• It’s funny, but as a kid growing up in Spokane, you have role models for all those endeavors. In other words, it’s not impossible to get there from here. Ryne Sandberg is in the Hall of Fame. Kevin Stocker and others played on baseball’s biggest stage. Mark Rypien, Super Bowl MVP. John Stockton played in the NBA Finals more than once – and won a couple of Olympic gold medals. He’s not alone in that regard. Folks from around here have been winning gold since as long as I can remember. And there might be another soon. Unless a Gonzaga grad gets in her way. It’s ironic, isn’t it, Briann January may have to beat out former GU star Courtney Vandersloot to make the 12-woman squad for Rio? When January came out of Lewis and Clark High in 2005, she headed south to Arizona State to play her college basketball in lieu of just moving down the hill to Gonzaga. Instead, two years later, Vandersloot filled that spot, heading across the mountains from Kent to lead the Bulldogs. Both played deep into the NCAA tournament. Both were first-round WNBA draft picks (Vandersloot third in 2011 and January sixth in 2009). And now both are part of the 25-player finalist pool for the Olympics. They both could make it, of course. They bring different skills to the court. But more than likely it will be a longshot if they do. That’s OK. For January, it’s always been an uphill battle. She blossomed for the Tigers in high school, but was still a relative unknown when she took off for Tempe. Spokane-area basketball players are like that, under-the-radar folks. But her tenacious defense immediately made her mark – and made the Sun Devils better. They made the Elite Eight twice in January’s years there. But she’s done even better with the Indiana Fever, helping them win the WNBA title in 2012. Knee injuries have slowed her down at times – including during last season’s WNBA finals – but never stopped her. And now the girl who used to play AAU games at the Warehouse may be heading to the Olympic games, where the U.S. will be the favorite to bring home the gold. Sounds like a dream come true, doesn’t it?


• WSU: Speaking of women’s basketball, the Cougars’ Borislava Hristova was named the Pac-12 freshman of the week again. And three incoming WSU recruits were nominated as McDonald’s All-Americans. ... Will Luke Falk and WSU have the Pac-12’s top-scoring offense next season?

• Gonzaga: Vandersloot and January’s inclusion among the Olympic finalists is the subject of Jim Allen’s story in today’s paper as well as his blog post from yesterday, which includes women’s basketball links. ... BYU’s men can see their NCAA hopes slipping away after last week’s loss at Pepperdine.

• EWU: Jim also has a story about the Eagles’ newest member of the football coaching staff.

• Preps: Gonzaga Prep’s Evan Weaver, who has been committed to California for a while, received an offer this week from Oregon. Signing day is Wednesday, Feb. 3. ... The Tacoma Dome and the WIAA agreed on a contract for the football finals.

• Seahawks: It’s hard to figure out what the Hawks’ linebacking corps will look like next season until Bruce Irvin’s status is ironed out. ... The Carolina Panthers and the Seahawks look pretty similar. ... Marshawn Lynch's bonus money is probably safe. ... Kam Chancellor also won’t be playing in this week’s Pro Bowl. ... Bellevue police are recommending two felony charges for Derrick Coleman’s October car crash.

• Mariners: Baseball is thinking of changing the strike zone. Wonder if the calls will change?

• Sounders: The Sounders made over their roster some this offseason, but no one may have more of an effect on their fortunes than leftback Joevin Jones.


• The biggest thing on my agenda today is possibly getting a hair cut. Or maybe reading for a while. Yes, my life is that dull. Isn’t it great? Until later ...

Vince Grippi
Vince Grippi is a freelance local sports blogger for He also contributes to the SportsLink Blog.

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