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January 25, 2012 at 4:41 PM

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Live from the Seattle Sports Star of the Year banquet

SOUNDERS GOALIE KELLER WINS PROFESSIONAL SPORTS STAR OF THE YEAR HONORS --- Sounders goalie Kasey Keller has won the last award of the night as the Professional Sports Star of the Year. Keller thanked the Sounders for allowing him to come home and end his career in Seattle. He also ended his speech with a story of being booed at a Portland Blazers game and said "somebody please bring back the Sonics so I don't have to go down to Portland again.''

POLK WINS MALE ATHLETE OF YEAR HONORS --- UW RB Chris Polk has just won the award as the Male Athlete of the Year. He gave a brief speech via film as he's at the Senior Bowl.

basketball  player Courtney Vandersloot, also a graduate of Kentwood
High, was named as the Female Sports Star of the Year. She's currently
playing professionally in Istanbul, Turkey so she gave a short speech
via film.

just two UW basketball players to have his number retired, gave an
acceptance speech for winning the Royal Brougham Legend Award that was
as good as any comic's could have been. Houbregs introduced his wife,
noted they would soon celebrate their 58th anniversary, and after the
applause died down, said: "Thank you. That's all she's going to get as a
gift.'' Then later, noting two sons couldn't be here and were instead
on the beach in Thailand, he said "if they'd invited me, I wouldn't be
here (either).'' Later, he met rock star Duff McKagan backstage, maybe
the most unlikely pairing of the night.

COMMUNITY SERVICE --- Former UW basketball  star and later a member of
the Sonics, Detlef Schrempf was just honored with the Paul Allen Award
for community service, his foundation raising more than $11 million for
charities since 1996. Schrempf joked that when the Seattle Sports
Commission called, he was hoping it was to reverse the 1985 Sports Star
of the Year Award, which went instead to Steve Largent. He also thanked
his wife, Mari, saying "she does the speaking. I just show my pretty

FINKBONNER BRINGS DOWN THE HOUSE --- The highlight of the night so far
may be the speech by 11-year-old Jake Finkbonner of Ferndale, given the
Seattle Children's Insiprational Youth Award. A Ferndale resident, he
has had 29 surgeries as a result of a flesh-eating bacteria in his face
that nearly killed him when he was 5. Finkbonner was introduced by Jake
Locker and noted that his family and Locker's have  been friends for
years. He joked that he has been watching Locker play football "ever
since I was young.'' He also said his goal is to become a plastic
surgeon like the one who treated him, Richard Hopper. Locker greeted
Finkbonner backstage afterward and said he "hit it out of the park.''

FOR A FEW SPECIAL AWARDS --- A few of the previously announced awards
have been presented in recent moments, including the Keith Jackson Award
for media to Bob Robertson, known primarily for his years broadcasting
WSU. Robertson gave a well-received speech in which he noted he'd
broadcast 508 Cougar games. He also talked of having done one of the
first games in the Kingdome. "Little did I know I'd outlive the
building,'' he joked.

AND WE HAVE A WINNER ... The first award of
the night has been presented, and in what backstage was viewed as
something of an upset, the Eastern Washington University football team's
run to the 2010 FCS title has emerged victorious as the Sports Story of
the Year. The odds-on favorite back here had been the Seahawks' win
over New Orleans in the playoffs or the Sounders FC U.S. Open Cup title.
But EWU coach Beau Baldwin, who almost took another big win in this
city last September at Husky Stadium, now has gotten a victory in

STILL BAD TO THE BONE --- Remember the little kid on the cover of Sports Illustrated in 1996 alongside Jay Buhner? He's now 16 years old. And tonight he was again alongside his dad, Gunnar Buhner tagging along as the former Mariner slugger presents an award.

Buhner helps coach his son's select baseball team in the spring and summer, along with occasional  duties as a color analyst.

Buhner said Mariner fans have to try to keep up the hope, saying a turnaround is coming "slowly but surely.''

ERIC WEDGE VIDEO --- Mariner manager Eric Wedge talked to reporters prior to the banquet tonight about the team's new acquisition, Jesus Montero, and getting ready for the season:

This player was created in August 2010 to take advantage of smart player technology. It is used in all embedded video on The Seattle Times as well as outside sites..

KEITH PRICE VIDEO --- Here's some video of UW QB Keith Price before the Seattle Sports Star banquet:
This player was created in August 2010 to take advantage of smart player technology. It is used in all embedded video on The Seattle Times as well as outside sites..

WEDGE READY FOR SEASON --- Mariners manager Eric Wedge just talked through the red carpet. He said he's excited to get the season going and see what the team has with all of its new players, notably Jesus Montero. He said it "took guts'' for the Mariners to make that trade and that "that's why I love Jack Zduriencik.''

As for the season? He said "I expect more'' than a year ago.

PRICE FEELING RIGHT --- UW QB Keith Price is here tonight, ready to accept for Chris Polk if he wins an award as Male Athlete of the Year.

Price said he's beginning to recover from the knee and ankle injuries that hindered  him throughout the season, but said none required surgery --- just rest.

He also said his goal this off-season is to put on weight. He said he finished last season weighing 185 pounds. He said he hopes to get to 205 for next fall.

VIDEO OF JAKE LOCKER: Here's some video of former UW quarterback Jake Locker speaking with reporters prior to tonight's banquet:
This player was created in August 2010 to take advantage of smart player technology. It is used in all embedded video on The Seattle Times as well as outside sites..

MOOS CONFIDENT OF A FULL APPLE CUP --- Washington State athletic director Bill Moos is here tonight presenting a media award to legendary broadcaster Bob Robertson.

I asked Moos what the reaction had been to the recent news that next year's Apple Cup will  be played on the day after Thanksgiving. He said there were a few initial murmurs but that after the hiring of Mike Leach became official "our fans don't want to miss any Apple Cups in Pullman. There could be and there should be a lot more on the line in Apple Cups in the future.''

GUNS AND TROPHIES --- One of the presenters here tonight is Duff McKagan of Guns and Roses, who along with Jay Buhner is handing out the final award of the night for Sports Star of the Year. McKagan is a Roosevelt High grad and a huge Husky football fan, a passion he can now indulge in as much as ever with great newphew Dexter Charles a freshman offensive tackle for UW.

McKagan related that his days cheering on the Huskies date back to Sonny Sixkiller. He said when Charles, a Stanwood High grad, was being recruited "we were silently saying 'please stay home.'''

Charles did, redshirting last season and will now compete for playing time in 2012.

LOCKER IN THE ROOM --- Having just walked onto the red carpet is former UW QB Jake Locker, who is a presenter tonight. He's here with his wife, Lauren, and said he is living back in Ferndale for a few months during the off-season.

Asked if he feels like an NFL veteran now he laughed and said "no. I've still got a lot to learn.''

He also said he wasn't surprised by the season turned in by Keith Price saying that during the time Price was his backup his playmaking ability was always evident.

INTRODUCTION --- An annual highlight of the Seattle Sports scene graces the calendar again tonight --- the Seattle Sports Star of the Year awards banquet.

I'll be live blogging the proceedings tonight as we find out who earns honors as top male, female and professional athlete of the year, among other honors (you can see the full list and other details here).

And as always, one of the real highlights of these things can be what happens off-state. So check back throughout the night as we pass along a buffet table full of notes, quotes and anecdotes.

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EWU is an excellent choice. Doesn't get any better than a national championship. Well... MORE
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