Washington State University swept up most of the awards at Wednesday night’s 49th annual Greater Spokane Sports Association Awards Banquet, but not before master of ceremonies Dennis Hull dusted off several dignitaries who were in attendance.
Hull, in serving his 10th consecutive term as emcee, took a take-no-prisoners approach from the moment the first surge of electricity hit his microphone at the head table in the Ag Trade Center.
The former National Hockey League performer opened the evening by saying someone had asked him a few minutes earlier why he seemed so happy.
“I told him I had just walked by the St. John Cathedral and met the custodian,” Hull explained. “He gave me some cookies.
“And if he could sell those things, he could pay the mayor’s mortgage.”
The quip brought a laugh from nearly everyone in the huge audience, including Mayor Jack Geraghty.
But it was only one of a barrage of verbal shots Hull leveled at those at the head table, as well as the paying public.
Even guest speaker Walter Payton, the National Football League’s all-time rushing leader, couldn’t escape Hull’s rush.
Payton, after relating a story about his days with the Chicago Bears and how only quarterback Jim McMahon and the rest of his teammates were allowed to call him “Wally,” took his seat to a round of applause and perhaps Hull’s best dig of the night:
“I’d like to thank Beaver’s brother.”
Spliced between Hull’s rantings were the awards presentations that resembled a WSU pep rally.
The Cougars captured four of the five awards that were handed out.
Scott Sanderson, an All-American offensive tackle on WSU’s football team was named amateur male Athlete of the Year; two-time All-American volleyball player Sarah Silvernail repeated as amateur female Athlete of the Year; the Cougars’ ninth-ranked volleyball team, which finished second in the Pacific-10 Conference and advanced to the quarterfinals of the NCAA Tournament, was named Team of the Year; and its coach, Cindy Fredrick, was honored as Coach of the Year.
Fredrick, after noting that Silvernail and her team had preceded her in winning awards said, “I figured if I didn’t win this award, I was a real loser.”
The only non-Cougar to be honored was decathlon world record holder and Olympic gold medalist Dan O’Brien, who was unable to attend the banquet.
In addition to the regular awards, the GSSA also handed out achievement in sports development awards to Fuzzy Buckenberger, a longtime softball icon, and Gonzaga University basketball announcer Dick Wright, who also a member of the Inland Empire Sportswriters and Broadcasters.
, DataTimes ILLUSTRATION: 4 Color Photos
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