There wasn’t a lot of local sports to report on in 2020. Since March, Kodiak High School sports have been nearly non-extent when the COVID-19 pandemic ended seasons across the world. While some schools in Alaska returned for fall sports, Kodiak sports teams — because of their location — were limited to mostly practices and intramural scrimmages.
The last sporting event that pitted Kodiak against another school happened on Feb. 29 when the boys’ basketball team beat Redington 51-12. A few individuals have competed in off-island events since then, but not representing Kodiak High.
The pandemic produced most of the headlines in 2020, but not wanting to compile a list of events and seasons that did not take place because of the virus, I dug deep and came up with 10 mostly non-COVID sports stories that graced the Daily Mirror pages. It wasn’t easy, but here they are:
1. THE PASSING OF LEGENDS
The obvious choice for the top story of 2020 is the passing of Joe “Coach” Floyd, 89, on Feb. 22. Floyd spent 64 years on The Rock — 26 with the Kodiak Island Borough School District — coaching and impacting the youths of Kodiak. He arrived on the island in the 1950s and built the Kodiak High sports empire. The track and field at Baranof Park and the longest-running high school basketball tournament in the state carry his name.
More than 200 people filled the Gerald C. Wilson Auditorium for Floyd’s community ceremony.
“He adopted this one-horse town and made it his own,” said DJ Vinberg, who owns the school’s discus record. “He took a stand for every child in Kodiak and for the opportunity and the recognition of the importance of sports.”
In January, George Lee — an icon in the Kodiak Special Olympics program and a longtime Little League coach — passed away from cancer. He was 63.
Lee joined Special Olympics in the 1980s and started Kodiak’s unified floor hockey program. He was part of Kodiak’s gold medal-winning floor hockey team at the 2001 Winter World Games in Anchorage.
He later became Kodiak’s area director and traveled to Ireland for world games as a basketball coach. George — an avid bowler — coached the island’s Special Olympics bowling team for decades. He gave up that position in 2017 after being diagnosed with stage 4 colon cancer.
“Special Olympics has been a big part of my life for a long time,” Lee told the Daily Mirror in 2017.
2. GLOVER GOES DIVISION I
Carly Glover made history in May. The senior became Kodiak’s first NCAA Division I hockey player when she signed a National Letter of Intent to Merrimack College in North Andover, Massachusetts.
“I thought hockey was just going to be an extra sport that I could do during the winter to keep me busy as a kid,” Glover said. “I never thought I would ever go to college for hockey until my freshman year. There is actually a big window for girls.”
Using her 5-foot-8 frame, Glover is a potent playmaker on the ice and earned invitations to two USA Hockey Player Development Camps. The forward skated with the Kodiak Hockey League and was an integral piece of the Alaska All-Stars, an Anchorage-based squad, for the past four years.
“Having that confidence in her journey has really helped her keep taking steps,” said Cristy Hickel, the Alaska All-Stars coach. “She is not at her peak, and she is not satisfied, but she is invested in her journey. When you have a young lady who has invested in the process — every shift, every game, every next opportunity — she is always giving it her best.”
3. FIELDS RUNS TO TOP FINISH
Despite only competing on The Rock during cross country’s regular season, Micah Fields ended as one of the top runners in the state by placing 10th in the Skinny Raven Alaska Team XC Championship in October at Kincaid Park in Anchorage.
After training all summer at his family’s fishing site on Harvester Island, the Kodiak junior entered this unusual season intending to clock a 5-kilometer time of under 17 minutes. He achieved his goal, finishing in 16:43, which won the invitational — a race for runners who were not allowed or did not qualify for the state meet.
Skinny Raven combined state and invitational times to make up the Team XC Championship.
“I heard my time afterward, and it didn’t really seem real to me until an hour after, then I started to think about it and realized that I actually did well,” Fields said. “It just felt so nice to work towards that goal and have that goal achieved.”
Kodiak’s Christan Harver placed 61st (18:10) in the boys’ race, while, in the girls’ race, Kailani Gilbert was 40th (21:17), Naomi Griffin 45th (21:23), Cassidy Foster 65th (22:30) and Allison Smith 71st (25:15).
4. SWIMMERS FINISH STRONG
Even without a backbone of a season, Kodiak High’s swimmers still produced at the 2020 Alaska High School Invitational in November at Bartlett High School in Anchorage.
The seven swimmers — representing the Kodiak Kingfishers — all qualified for finals, with nine of the 12 individual swims being personal-bests.
“I am so incredibly pleased with what they did. It may have even rendered me speechless, and that takes a lot,” Kingfishers coach Maggie Rocheleau said.
Juniors Ian Rocheleau and Jackson Krug both recorded two podium finishes. Ian Rocheleau was second in the 200-yard individual medley (1 minute, 57.34 seconds) and third in the 100 backstroke (52.64). Krug was second in the 100 freestyle (47.78) and third in the 200 freestyle (1:46.52).
Senior Leslie Spear was second in the 200 freestyle (1:58.10), freshman Alison Narog was third in the 50 freestyle (24.91) and eighth in the 500 freestyle (5:43.95) and junior Nick Carver was fourth in the 100 breaststroke (1:00.52). Jake Sarnowski was seventh in the 500 freestyle (5:24.63), while senior sister Alicia Sarnowski was seventh in the 100 backstroke (1:01.68).
5. SENIOR SEND-OFFS
Kodiak High’s football, cross country, and volleyball teams sent their seniors off wth glorified scrimmages in the fall.
Kodiak football’s blue/gold game, usually a practice scrimmage before the season, had more meaning this season as it was the only game for the 23 seniors on the team. The festivities included a Coast Guard fly-over, the singing of the national anthem, a public address announcer and a radio broadcast.
“This was our chance to let everybody else see what we have been working so hard to do and their chance to display their ability and their talent in front of a lot of people,” coach Byran Ellsworth said.
The team started practicing in July in hopes of a season.
“We didn’t know what was going to happen with the football season,” senior Jack Malloy said. “The community came out and we made it a big event. I feel like we delivered — it was a really fun time and the guys really enjoyed it. We are really senior-heavy and are going to miss each other.”
The volleyball team started their season practicing outside and ended inside with a match against a collection of community members in October. It was the final games for seniors Kaylie Sockwell, Cyana Medrano, Teanna Amodo, Angelica Paguio, Shalliah Capili and Emily Jancauskas.
“My heart has been broken a few times this season over what we are able to do and what we haven’t been able to do — they have just been such troopers,” Willis said. “I’m so proud of them. They can roll with adversity.”
The cross country team held intrasquad meets all over Kodiak, culminating with a Kodiak Region III Championship at Fort Abercrombie State Historical Park. The team said goodbye to seniors Christian Harver, Jackson Roberts, Jerron Bruce and Emily Lorring.
“I was concerned that the lack of travel would result in a lack of bonding amongst our teammates because we weren’t having overnight trips or ferry trips, and I just haven’t seen that at all. Instead, we have seen a team with great unity and great encouragement,” coach Ashley Mortenson said.
6. BARBER WINS AGAIN
Over the last two decades, Fred Barber has been the island’s most consistent golfer. Barber won his fourth Kodiak Island Golf Championship in September at Bear Valley Golf Course, the most titles by a male golfer in the 34-year history of the 36-hole tournament. The 56-year-old played consistent and steady golf to card a 13-over-par 157. He had rounds of 83 and 74.
Barber won in 2003 (150), 2006 (151) and 2010 (157).
‘It’s unbelievable, honestly. I can’t believe at my age I can still compete,” Barber said.
7. MOUNTAIN RUNNING
For the second straight summer, the Discover Kodiak’s Adjust your Altitude challenge captivated the island. For the hardcore, scaling Kodiak’s seven peaks — Heitman, Kashevaroff, Pyramid, Barometer, Sharatin, Monashka and North Sister — in 24 hours was the thing to do. Nobody did it faster than Dylan Brady, 22, and Emily Pittis, 23. The couple — both recent graduates of the University of Montana and visitors to Kodiak — completed the seven summits in 10 hours, 40 minutes in late July. They destroyed the previous record of 13:30, set weeks earlier by Todd Murdoch.
8. CONFERENCE CHAMPION
Kodiak’s Talon Lindquist surged from behind to win the 200-yard butterfly at the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation Championships in February in Los Angeles.
The University of Hawaii sophomore was second midway through the race before edging out University of Southern California Santa Barbara freshman Dominic Falcon by .39 seconds to win his second MPSF title. He won in 1 minute, 46.24 seconds.
Lindquist helped the Hawaii men secure their second consecutive conference championship with a score of 895.5 points.
In April, Akhiok’s Phyllis Amodo was named the Alaska Students Activities Association Region II Female Coach of the Year Award. Amodo coached basketball and volleyball for Kodiak ESS, a program for the school district’s rural students.
“There is no greater feeling quite like helping young athletes,” Amodo wrote in an email. “Watching their talent and dedication grow into a skill that we all can be proud of — just be able to see their smile when they have reached their goal.”
The only awards for the Northern Lights Conference were awarded in basketball and Kodiak’s Sam Galindo and Leslie Spear each was recognized as second-teamers.
The senior Galindo averaged a team-best 10.5 points per game and his 36 made 3-pointers were second best. The guard ended his career with 534 points.
The junior Spear posted 13.5 points per game and enters her senior season 335 points away from 1,000 career points.
10. PILLANS TOPS IN STATE
In August, Steven Pillans rode to a motocross championships in the professional and 450cc expert classes in the 2020 State Series. The State Series was an eight-event circuit that hit tracks in Anchorage, Fairbanks and Kenai.
An overall champion was crowned by season points.