Commentary: Props to local sports programs that often get overshadowed

On a weekend where Husky fans are still basking in the glow of a blowout Apple Cup win and the Seahawks took centerstage in a Super Bowl 40 rematch, we take the time to recognize a few other impressive local stories – and coaches – who deserve recognition.

And not many deserve it more than UW Women’s Volleyball coach, Keegan Cook.

Last night, the Huskies won a share of the Pac-12 title with an incredible 28-2 overall record. They’re the second ranked team in the country and earlier today, the Dawgs were selected as the No. 5 overall seed in the NCAA Tournament. It’s a remarkable – and somewhat surprising – success story for a first-year head coach, transitioning a program from longtime leader Jim McLaughlin, especially after losing one of the best players in the country, Krista Van Sant.

Whatever happens in the tournament, which starts next week, the Huskies – and Cook in particular – have exceeded expectations under some of the toughest of circumstances.

And while a lot of the focus on the gridiron remains on college and the pros, a shoutout to all of our local teams, reaching next week’s state championships at the Tacoma Dome.

But two stories in particular caught my eye:

First, the rematch of Bellevue and Eastside Catholic for the fourth straight year in the 3A championship game. Some call it boring with the same two teams – and others might not be fans of seeing a couple of “football factories” squaring off for the umpteenth time. But if you want good football – and you want what’s become a really fun rivalry since the Crusaders finally broke through and won last year, that’s the matchup you’d want to see. Props to both programs, including Bellevue’s, which weathered the storm of suspensions and reports of illegal recruiting to get back to the state title game.

But my favorite might be Tumwater – and head coach Sid Otton in his 42nd year at the school, leading them back to a 2A championship Game. Even Sid’s grandson, Cade, plays on the T-Birds’ football team, as they continue to help write Otton’s incredible legacy at the school.

Next, we go all the way up north to Bellingham, where the Western Washington women’s soccer team is now heading to the NCAA Division II Final Four. They’re ranked second in the country, they have a 20-match unbeaten streak, and they’ll face Grand Valley State in the national semifinals in Pensacola, Florida on Thursday. Best of luck to them.

And finally – a bittersweet end to the season for the Seattle U men’s soccer team today in Syracuse, NY – but it doesn’t take away the remarkable job Pete Fewing has once again done.

A win today, and the Redhawks would’ve been just three wins away from a Division I National Title. Not
Division II, not NAIA – but the top of the heap Division I. In just four seasons, Fewing has Seattle U on the national stage, beating legendary programs like UCLA along the way – an impressive feat in that school’s transition to the top tier of the NCAA. Despite the loss today, Fewing and the Redhawks deserve their due.

These programs don’t always get the press – but their efforts warrant recognition tonight. Congrats to all of them – and keep giving our local sports communities something of which to be proud.