Four Seattle Seahawks, a South Sound soccer star, an Olympic gold medalist, a University of Washington running back and a basketball all-star comprise the State of Washington Sports Hall of Fame class of 2017.
The class is headlined by former Seahawks star running back Curt Warner and former coaches Mike Holmgren and Dennis Erickson, although Erickson’s greatest success came as a college coach. Former Seahawks vice president Gary Wright, now with the Sounders, will also be inducted.
Former Sounders goalie and North Thurston High graduate Kasey Keller, 1984 Olympic skiing gold medalist Debbie Armstrong, former Huskies running back Joe Steele and former American Basketball Association star Byron Beck round out the class.
The class is larger than usual, said Marc Blau, executive director of the Hall of Fame. “The reason is simple – our statewide panel of voters felt that these inductees belong in the hall and belong in it right now,” Blau said.
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Holmgren, the Seahawks coach from 1999 to 2008, coached the team to five division titles (one in the AFC West and four in the NFC West) and its first Super Bowl appearance. He previously won a Super Bowl as coach of the Green Bay Packers and two others as an assistant coach with the San Francisco 49ers.
Warner, already a member of the College Football Hall of Fame, led the AFC in rushing as a rookie and was a three-time Pro Bowl player during his seven-year stint with the Seahawks. Warner, a member of the Seahawks Ring of Honor, was an All-America running back at Penn State.
Erickson graduated from Everett High School and went on to become an accomplished college coach. He coached at Idaho and Wyoming before rocketing to stardom after coaching Washington State University to a victory in the 1988 Aloha Bowl. He moved on to the University of Miami where he won two national titles before accepting the job coaching the Seahawks. In four years in Seattle and two with San Francisco, he never coached an NFL team to a winning record. He did however, find more success at the college level. His 2000 Oregon State team won the Fiesta Bowl and finished the season ranked No. 4 in the nation. He also won two bowl games in five seasons at Arizona State University. He was an assistant coach at Utah the last four seasons.
Keller grew up in Olympia and played college soccer at Portland. He was one of the most accomplished goalies in U.S. history and was named national player of the year three times. He played on four World Cup teams and excelled as professional in Europe. He turned down offers from several European teams to finish his career with the Seattle Sounders.
Steele rushed for 3,168 yards for the Huskies and help lead UW to a victory over Michigan in the 1978 Rose Bowl.
Armstrong of Seattle was part of a dominant showing by Washington athletes at the 1984 Olympics. She won gold in the giant slalom while Yakima twins Phil and Steve Mahre took gold and silver respectively in the slalom and Bill Johnson, a former Mission Ridge racer, won gold in the downhill. A chairlift and ski run at Alpental are named in her honor
Beck grew up near Ellensburg and played for Columbia Basin College in Pasco and the University of Denver. The center played 10 seasons with the Denver Nuggets (all but one in the ABA) and scored 8,603 points and grabbed 5,261 rebounds. His number, 40, was retired by the Nuggets.
The press box at CenturyLink Field is named for Wright. He worked for the Seahawks for 32 years before becoming a senior vice-president with the Seattle Sounders in 2008. He introduced Seahawks receiver Steve Largent for his Pro Football Hall of Fame acceptance speech. Wright is a consultant for the Sounders.
Warner, Holmgren, Armstrong, Steele and Beck will be inducted on July 25 at Safeco Field before the Seattle Mariners game against the Boston Red Sox.
Keller and Wright will be honored at the Sounders’ Aug. 20 game against Minnesota United FC. Erickson will be recognized at WSU’s Sept. 2 game against Montana State.