WENATCHEE — Some teams thrive while facing lofty expectations. Other teams can do just as well even if few people believe in them.
By the time their respective postseason tournaments began, the Brewster girls basketball and Wenatchee Valley College softball squads were definitely considered favorites to take home a first-place trophy.
The Cashmere baseball team, though, was considered as somewhat of an underdog all season long.
All three squads did indeed achieve their ultimate goal — Brewster dominated the 1A Hardwood Classic en route to winning the state tournament in February; WVC finally broke through at the Northwest Athletic Association of Community Colleges tournament, winning the first title in the program’s illustrious history last month; and Cashmere won its third 1A state title in the past four years last month.
On Tuesday, the three titlists were responsible for six of the nine awards (in eight categories) passed out at the 43rd Wenatchee Valley Medical Center North Central Washington Sports Awards banquet, held at the Wenatchee Convention Center and sponsored by the Wenatchee North Rotary Service Club.
Brewster and WVC tied for the Female Team of the Year award, while Knights coach Shelly Pflugrath won the Female Team Coach of the Year honor. Chandler Smith, the Bears’ superstar point guard, was given the High School Female Athlete of the Year award.
Pflugrath also won the Female Team Coach of the Year award in 2007 and 2009.
“We have a great respect for the (Wenatchee North) Rotary and what they do,” Pflugrath said, “so to be given an award by them means a lot.”
Cashmere was awarded the Male Team of the Year honor, while Bulldogs coach Jeff Carlson took the Male Team Coach of the Year award.
Carlson and the Cashmere baseball team repeated as award winners; they also won their respective awards in 2010.
“We always talk about playing our best baseball at the end of the season, and build toward May,” Carlson said. “We executed, pitched well and played good defense (in the postseason). To see that happen was pretty incredible. Everything worked out perfectly for us.”
Six of the eight categories had 10 finalists (the High School Male Athlete of the Year award and Male Coach of the Year had 11 finalists) that were honored at the start of the banquet.
Wenatchee’s Isaiah Brandt-Sims, an all-Big Nine football player and state track and field champion, took the High School Male Athlete award for the second time (he shared honors with Omak’s Dylan Green in 2011).
Virginia basketball player Joe Harris (Chelan) and Idaho runner Hannah Kiser (Wenatchee) repeated as the College Male and Female athletes of the year, respectively. Kiser also won the award in 2011.
Quincy athletic director and longtime football and track and field coach Bill Alexander was given the Don Elliston President’s Award. Alexander founded the Wenatchee All-State B-8 Classic football game that was later moved to Yakima, where he combined it with the B, 1A and 2A classifications and founded the Earl Barden East-West All-Star Game.
“This award means just as much to me as (any other honor I’ve received),” said Alexander, who was voted to the Washington State Football Coaches Hall of Fame in 2011.
Liberty Bell’s Jacqueline O’Keefe and Cascade’s Neal Champagne were named as Scholar Athletes of the Year, and a $1,000 grant was given to the Malaga-Colockum Community Council/Malaga Community Park to be used to help pay for an irrigation system.
NWAACC executive director Marco Azurdia was the banquet’s featured speaker. Azurdia, who spent time as WVC’s head women’s basketball coach and athletic director before assuming his current role, talked about the necessity for aspiring athletes and students to eliminate five ‘bad words’ from their vocabulary — ‘but,’ ‘try,’ ‘can’t,’ ‘should’ and ‘if.’
“In order to do that, you have to do what has to be done, when it has to be done and do it the very best you can,” he said. “If you’re able to get rid of those words, I believe you’ll become a better athlete, a better teammate and an amazing person.”