In the first year of the Spokane Youth Sports Awards, the event’s signature award couldn’t have had a more deserving recipient Tuesday evening.
The award’s title – Against All Odds – could be named after the inaugural winner – Sam Dowd.
The Gonzaga Prep senior overcame numerous obstacles, landing in Spokane after a stint of homelessness and graduating as a highly successful student-athlete.
The hardships he endured only served to strengthen his inner belief that hard work and discipline will reap rewards in the end. An all-Greater Spokane League first-team selection in football and basketball this year, Dowd is headed to play the latter at Carroll College in Helena, Montana.
From being on the streets in junior high to receiving a scholarship to continue his education and athletic career, Dowd has come miles. In between were too many personal victories to name here.
“It means a lot,” Dowd said. “So many people put their time and effort into me. There are a lot of people out there that care and want to see me strive to succeed.”
It is Dowd’s goal to give back when the opportunities present themselves. He wants to help others who find themselves in similar plights as his to persevere against all odds.
The Youth Awards ceremony at the Fox Theater honored the best of Spokane County athletes and coaches and non-high school athletes for the 2013-14 school year. It was presented by the Spokane Regional Sports Commission.
• Rogers tennis coach Barb Silvy was named top female coach. Success for Silvy isn’t defined in wins or losses. She takes care of her athletes as if they are her own children, often spending her coaching stipend buying activities cards, tennis shoes, clothing and food to make sure her 50 athletes are given the same opportunity as other kids in the city.
• Gonzaga Prep girls basketball coach Mike Arte was named top male coach. He directed the Bullpups to their first State 4A championship this winter as they finished 25-1. • The Central Valley girls soccer team was named the top female team. The Bears captured their first State 4A championship, finishing 17-1-1 under coach Andres Monrroy. CV is just the second GSL team to claim a state title in soccer.
• The North Central wrestling team was named the top male team. The Indians rode the backs of six wrestlers to capture their first State 3A title. All six placed, led by the Quintanilla brothers, junior Izaec and freshman Clai, who captured individual titles.
• The top female athlete is Ashlee Pedersen of Mt. Spokane. She lettered in 11 of 12 sports seasons as a three-sport athlete. She was all-GSL as the defender of the year in soccer, all-league honorable mention in basketball and first team all-GSL in track. She is headed to the University of Montana to play soccer and do track.
• The top male athlete is Brett Rypien of Shadle Park. Rypien, a quarterback, owns most of the GSL’s career passing records and will only add to them next fall during his senior season. He threw for 4,086 yards and 57 touchdowns this year, leading the Highlanders to the State 3A semifinals. He gave Boise State an oral commitment.
• Non-high school top male athlete is Will Bughi. A gymnast, Bughi is Level 10, the highest level. He is the reigning Washington state all-around champion.
• Non-high school top female athlete is Mikila Salazar. A wheelchair basketball and track athlete, Salazar started for a nationally ranked wheelchair basketball team the last three years. She is headed to play at Texas-Arlington, considered the top school in the nation for wheelchair basketball.