Seven Huskies Among Nominees for Seattle Star of the Year

Jan. 19, 2005

SEATTLE - Seven individuals with ties to the University of Washington are among the nominees for the Seattle Sports Star of the Year which will be announced tonight at the annual awards banquet sponsored by the Seattle Post-Intelligencer. A winner for men and women will be selected by voting conducted by people attending Wednesday's banquet at the Downtown Sheraton Hotel.

Devoted to saluting the feats of contemporary athletes, the P-I's Sports Star of the Year banquet is one of the longest running sports celebrations in the nation. The hundreds of sports fans who attend cast ballots for the winners.

The 2005 event, honoring sports stars of 2004, marks the banquet's 70th anniversary.

The Huskies will be represented in the men's voting by Nate Robinson from the men's basketball team along with assistant rowing coaches Matt Deakin and Bryan Volpenhein who rowed on the gold medal U.S. men's eight at the 2004 Olympics. Deakin is a former Husky rower.

The other, non-UW nominees, include golfer Ryan Moore, Seattle Seahawk Shaun Alexander, Sonics' coach nate McMillan and auto racer Kasey Kahne.

The women's field is dominated by Huskies, including Tina Frimpong from the elite eight women's soccer team and Courtney Thompson from the Final Four volleyball squad along with former UW rowers Anna Mickelson and Mary Whipple who won the silver medal with the U.S. women's eight at the 2004 Olympics.

Rounding out the women's field are Lianne Nelson, also a member of the U.S. women's eight, and Storm coach Anne Donovan.

Last year's Sports Star of the Year winners were Seahawk quarterback Matt Hasselbeck and Storm center Lauren Jackson.

The most recent University of Washington recipients were former women's crew coach Jan Harville in 2001 and quarterback Marques Tuiasosopo in 1999.

Following are profiles from the Seattle Post-Intelligencer of the UW nominees:

Assistant Rowing Coaches, U.S. Olympic Rowers

WHERE YOU'VE SEEN THEM: Remember the Olympic rowing coverage from Athens, Greece, last summer -- long, sleek shells moving fluidly through a canal, bleachers whizzing by? Matt Deakin sat in the fifth seat for the United States' men's eight, while Bryan Volpenhein was the stroke of the red boat -- the one that set a world record in the preliminaries.

Remember the team that jumped out to a lead in the medal race and stayed there, fending off the mighty Dutch by just over a second for the gold? That was them -- Deakin and Volpenhein -- helping power the crew to the United States' first men's eight Olympic gold medal since 1964.

BACK STORY: A native of Princeton, N.J., Deakin, 24, was a 2003 graduate of the University of Washington. He won gold in the men's four at the 2003 World Championships in Milan, Italy. Volpenhein, a 28-year-old from Cincinnati, had never rowed before he saw a flier for the club team at Ohio State. Named the 2002 U.S. Rowing Athlete of the Year, he also competed in the 2000 Olympics and is a five-time world championship team member. Both trained at the U.S. rowing center in Princeton.

Men's Basketball

WHERE YOU'VE SEEN HIM: Higher in the air than any 5-7 3/4 guy has a right to be. The University of Washington guard with the Cheshire cat grin measured an astonishing 43 1/2-inch vertical leap at the NBA pre-draft camp, and is in his third season entertaining Huskies fans with his high-flying play.

Described by UW coach Lorenzo Romar as 'arguably the most exciting player in college basketball,' Robinson has been the key player in the Huskies' rise to national prominence. The junior from Rainier Beach High School led Washington in scoring each of his first two seasons, last year earning All-Pac-10 honors and scoring 13.2 points per game.

Robinson seriously considered jumping to the NBA after his sophomore season but decided to return.

BACK STORY: Born May 31, 1984, in Seattle, he's the son of legendary UW tailback Jacque Robinson, who was MVP in both the 1982 Rose Bowl and 1985 Orange Bowl. Nate Robinson also excels at football, originally arriving at Montlake on a football scholarship. As a senior at Rainier Beach, he rushed for more than 1,200 yards and scored 21 touchdowns, and in track he set a state record of 13.85 seconds in the 110-meter hurdles. That same year in basketball, he averaged 17.9 points, leading the Vikings to a 28-1 record, the state title and a No. 7 national ranking by USA Today.

Women's Soccer

WHERE YOU'VE SEEN HER: The senior didn't just rewrite the UW record book. She published a new edition. The old record for career goals was 34. Frimpong scored 43. The previous record for most game-winning goals was 12. Frimpong did it 18 times. The old mark for total points was 80. She tallied 98.

The All-American was named the Pac-10 Player of the Year, an award she shared for her performance during her junior year. By winning the award outright this year, she became the first woman to win it twice.

Frimpong led the conference in scoring for the second consecutive season and led Washington in scoring, a feat she accomplished all four years.

Finally, she led the Huskies to the Elite Eight, a place no other Washington women's soccer team had been.

BACK STORY: Born May 20, 1982, in Vancouver, Wash., Frimpong's road to Montlake was an indirect one. After being highly recruited out of Hudson's Bay High School, she signed with top-ranked Santa Clara. Weeks before heading to California, Frimpong learned she was pregnant. She shelved her soccer plans and attended Clark College. Daughter Mackenzie was born March 8, 2001. But Frimpong's soccer destiny burned inside her and led her to call Huskies coach Lesle Gallimore. Gallimore looked at the résumé -- three years on Washington's Olympic Development Program, a Regional ODP selection that traveled Europe, state champion club player -- and welcomed Frimpong.

Former UW rowers, U.S. Olympic rowers

WHERE YOU'VE SEEN THEM: Standing on a podium in Athens, wearing silver medals around their necks. The locally connected duo was part of the first U.S. women's eight crew to medal in 20 years, finishing second behind Romania. They also set a world-record time of 5 minutes, 56.55 seconds in the preliminaries.

BACK STORY: A local native, Mickelson, 24, attended Newport High School in Bellevue. Mickelson went on to Washington, where she was a teammate of Whipple, 24, who is from Orangevale, Calif. Whipple, a coxswain, and Mickelson helped the Huskies win three NCAA rowing titles.

Women's Volleyball

WHERE YOU'VE SEEN HER: The University of Washington sophomore was the setter for the Huskies volleyball team that reached the semifinals of the NCAA Tournament. Washington was ranked first in the nation for seven weeks during the regular season.

At 5-feet-8, Thompson was considered too short by some schools, but she proved everyone wrong this season, becoming the seventh first-team All-America selection in Washington history. She was third in the nation with 14.66 assists per game and after two seasons is third all-time on the school's assists list with 3,233. Her 60 assists in a season-ending loss to Stanford gave her a school-best 1,643 season total, surpassing the record she set as a freshman.

BACK STORY: Born Nov. 4, 1984 in Bellevue, Thompson attended Kentlake High School, led the Falcons to three state championships and was state player of the year in 2002. As if that weren't enough, she was an all-league basketball and softball player, student body president and valedictorian.

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