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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

A Grip on Sports: We honor those high school athletes who excel on a couple levels and then we take a flight of fancy

A GRIP ON SPORTS • You know what would make today better? Other than warmer temperatures in the Spokane area, of course. It would be great if we were kicking off a major golf tournament today. As we did last week. But one a month is all we get, and only for four months.


• We’ll get into that in a bit, but we start today on a different note. Praising high school athletes. Actually, the true student/athletes, unencumbered by the eye-rolls that accompany that title when it comes to NCAA pronouncements.

The Greater Spokane League honored each of its schools’ scholar athletes this week at a Spokane Valley luncheon. Outstanding athletes, sure. But more importantly, athletes who not only stood out on the court or field but also in the more demanding – and rewarding – arena of academics.

Just to be clear, the reward doesn’t come in the form of accolades in newspapers or on TV or through Instagram. It rolls on throughout life.

Doors open. Opportunities present themselves. The future widens. Academic success, with or without athletic triumphs, is the springboard to a successful life. It takes hard work, dedication, time-management, all the same elements that should allow anyone, anywhere, the chance to excel.

Add in the challenge of balancing one, two or even three year-round sports and earning success in the academic world shows even more about character.

Yes, high school sports are year-round endeavors these days. Being great at tennis or football or volleyball or any sport isn’t something that happens, in most cases, magically during the high school season. It takes practice, competition and study throughout the year to reach the peaks.

Most importantly, it takes discipline, mental and physical.

The discipline to say yes when needed and no when that word is called for. It isn’t easy as a high school student to pick up a computer or a book instead of other, more playful, pursuits. Or to head to the court instead of the couch. To understand when focus is needed and when it’s time to just be a teenager.

The athletes honored this week showed the ability to make those choices. To spend time wisely. To set and reach goals.

Honoring them is the right thing to do. Even here. They’ve earned it.

• Ok, back to the beginning. If golf really wants to capture the world’s imagination, there should be eight majors. One each month, starting in March.

The powers-that-be in the sport could use the expansion as an inducement to merge all the world’s tours back together.

Upgrade the Players to major status and let anyone who plays professionally, including those guys who were on the Saudi tour, play. That would be the opener in March – or it can be moved to mid-to-late September, when the weather in northeast Florida is better.

If that happens, the kickoff event in our expanded major season would be at Pebble Beach in early March. It could rival the Masters in one way: The course is so recognizable that those watching on TV know the holes as well as the guys who are vying for the title. But if you want the Players in March, then play Pebble in September. It would be beautiful. Still, we prefer March for the PB Invite.

It fits perfectly as a kickoff event for the usual suspects, the Masters (April), an open-to-everyone-who-buried-the-hatchet PGA (May), U.S. Open (June) and The Open (July). Then all we need are two new events, to fill out August and October.

The latter is easy. Elevate the Australian Open to major status. Up the prize money, limit it to the best courses Down Under and play it in early spring (for the Southern Hemisphere). Or we could include other places below the equator – South Africa, South America, etc. – and rotate the October event.

August is tougher. That’s when the PGA used to be played, so there isn’t much in the way of traditionally bright events that month. The Fed Ex Cup takes over the month now – it’s the PGA Tour’s playoffs – and that will be hard to move – or eliminate. Instead, leave it. Have it entirely in August. It’s not a major, though, so we have to adjust our original premise.

Seven is the right number of majors. The lucky seven. For us, anyway.


WSU: We texted some recently with David Riley. And know how excited he is to have his new position as Washington State’s head basketball coach. Greg Woods took some time to delve into how it came to pass for Riley and the Cougars. … Elsewhere in the Pac-12 and the nation, Jon Wilner is examining the conference schools’ finances, overall and, in the Mercury News today, Arizona State and Arizona. Each examination focuses on a key element of the athletic department budget. … John Canzano has a notes column on his website. … Former Gonzaga Prep and UW tight end Devin Culp had a great combine. Will he get drafted? … A Washington player with a last name that resonates in our personal memory banks entered the portal and then returned. … No more Oregon football season tickets are available. That late-October Illinois visit must be a huge draw. … The Oregon State receiver corps has a new look. … Wow. A bunch of players have decided to leave Colorado recently. … A Syracuse receiver has headed to Utah. … UCLA is halfway through spring practice. … USC has to decide what direction to take up front offensively. … Arizona State has lost basketball players to the portal. … Pelle Larsson is leaving Arizona to enter the NBA draft and he’s not coming back. … Kate Paye takes over at Stanford but has one disappointment as she moves over one seat on the women’s basketball bench. … Arizona will be adding players today.

Gonzaga: If Mark Few was still attending his Creswell, Oregon elementary school, he would have a killer How I Spent My Summer Vacation essay in September. Few will be one of the U.S. National Team’s assistant coaches during the Paris Olympics. Jim Meehan has more about that in this story. … The team is loaded with veterans, with a focus on size and defensive ability.

Idaho: Former Vandal quarterback Gevani McCoy is in Corvallis and trying to show he has FBS ability.

EWU: Eric Barriere is following in the footsteps of many Eastern quarterbacks before him. As Dave Cook tells us, Barriere will be playing in Canada this summer and fall. … Joddie Gleason has dipped into Missoula to recruit a basketball player, something that doesn’t happen often. … Elsewhere in the Big Sky, we missed this yesterday but Northern Colorado lost its quarterback to the portal. … Weber State basketball added a Portland transfer but lost an assistant coach.

Preps: We wrote about the scholar/athletes above. Dave Nichols has the real story here.

Indians: After a two-game blip, Spokane got back on the winning track with the offense keying the way. Dave has this story on the 9-3 win over Everett at Avista on Wednesday night. … Elsewhere in the Northwest League, despite a 9-2 mark, the Indians are a half-game back of Eugene, which raised its mark to 9-1 with a 5-0 home win over Vancouver. … Hillsboro edged visiting Tri-City 3-2.

Velocity: Spokane’s U.S. Open Cup run ended last night in Las Vegas, with a 2-1 extra-time defeat to the Lights. Ethan Myers has the coverage of the tight match.

Mariners: Series sweeps mean one thing these days. A bunch of social media memes with brooms and such. Wednesday’s 5-1 victory over the Reds not only gave the M’s a three-game sweep, it also moved them within a game of .500. And a couple wins from the magical 54% goal. (No, we’re not letting that go.) … Their recent 5-2 stretch seems to have put the M’s back on track. … They are also playing cleaner baseball. Hence the brooms?

Seahawks: Leonard Williams liked being in Seattle. He signed a contract without really exploring other options too deeply. … Should the Hawks trade back in the first round of the NFL draft? … And should they stock up on linebackers?

Kraken: Changes must be made. Will they include the head coach?

Sounders: Joao Paulo is on track to return soon.


• We’re sure we made no sense at all today. We have a spring-time cold. A bad one, complete with the raw nose and teary eyes and a bunch of disgusting what-not. We’re sure you understand. It’s also led to medications to keep all those things, if not at bay at least under some control. The problem with the meds? A foggy brain. Words were typed this morning we don’t even know where they came from. Now we understand why Edgar Allan Poe wrote such weird poetry. Until later …