Puyallup: Sports

Local athletes, officials honored at TAC Salute to Sports banquet

At the end of any season or year, a sports reporter is dead tired — just like the athletes we cover. It’s just becomes a way of life for the few who undertake the task.

The toughest times are the ones where one day or season blends right into the next, with no stopping for a breather. It’s a jump-right-to-it kind of attitude we must adopt.

But then there are times where that all disappears.

These are the times where the athletes we cover, along with ourselves, get to appreciate what we truly uncovered over the past year. These are the moments where we see something more than an athlete wearing a school name across their chest and number on their back.

One such time was the Tacoma Athletic Commission’s Salute to Sports banquet held June 4 at Curtis High.

Puyallup, Sumner and Bonney Lake athletes, coaches and officials were represented well last week. A total of 41 local athletes were selected as athletes of the year for spring sports.

One of the bigger awards handed out was the Tom Names Inspirational Award, which was given to Sumner High’s Rachel Stowell for the girls and Fife’s Austin Woods for the boys.

Those two athletes winning their awards hit home the most for me. If someone’s read The Herald long enough, Stowell’s story would be a familiar one. But Woods is something different.

I was there at Auburn High covering the 2014 Class 2A state basketball playoffs when Woods nearly lost his life. The scene was horrendous and one that’s hard to recall. I thought his career was over — never thinking his life was in jeopardy.

It was the hardest story I ever wrote.

Fast forward a year and some months later, and there stood Woods center stage accepting his award. He was able to make it back to the games he loved, and in doing so, inspired those around him. A deserving award.

That’s what these banquets, like the one the TAC held, are for — to rejuvenate and inspire the next generation of athletes to come out of the Pierce County area.