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Finalists for Joe Floyd Award include the man who introduced parasports to Alaska, a Kodiak coach of champion swimmers and a triple-threat Cordova man

by | Apr 5, 2024 | Alaska Sports Hall of Fame, Cover Story, Directors' Award

An Anchorage man who opened up the outdoors to Alaskans with disabilities, a coach who made waves as a swim coach in Kodiak and a man who, armed with either a whistle, a keyboard or radio gear, has spent more than half a century contributing to sports in Cordova are the finalists for the Alaska Sports Hall of Fame’s Joe Floyd Award.

The award honors someone who has made a significant and lasting contribution to sports in Alaska. Doug Keil, John Lindquist and Dick Shellhorn clearly fit that description.

Keil, who was a teenager when he lost an arm and a leg when electrocuted while exploring an old gold mine in Juneau, founded Challenge Alaska more than 40 years ago. The nonprofit group provides access and opportunities to people with disabilities through adaptive sports, therapeutic recreation and education.

Lindquist was a champion swimmer at Chugiak High and went on to become a coach and teacher. He spent nearly 30 years as a high school coach in Alaska, including 17 years as the swim coach at Kodiak High, where he lifted the team to statewide prominence.

Shellhorn has been a Cordova triple-threat for more than 50 years: as a basketball referee, a radio broadcaster and a sports reporter for the Cordova Times. He retired from officiating in 2022 but still writes for the Times, with one of his most recent articles chronicling Cordova’s third-place finish at the Class 2A state basketball tournament.

A winner will be announced Tuesday.

Both the finalists and the winner were decided by the Hall of Fame’s board directors, which annually selects seven Directors Awards recipients, including the Joe Floyd Award.

Other Directors Awards are the Trajan Langdon Award (one for adults, one for youths, in recognition of leadership and sportsmanship) and the Pride of Alaska athlete-of-the-year awards (one each for men, women, boys and girls).

Directors Award winners will be honored as part of the Hall of Fame induction ceremony on Tuesday, April 30, at the Anchorage Museum. Headlining the event will be the induction of the Class of 2024, which includes three individuals and one moment — musher Dallas Seavey, runner Allie Ostrander, Special Olympics athlete Bobby Hill and the 2000 NHL Rookie-of-the-Year award won by hockey player Scott Gomez, who was inducted as an individual in the inaugural class of 2007.

Here’s a closer look at this year’s Joe Floyd Award finalists:

Doug Keil

After he was electrocuted, Keil struggled with depression. He found relief on a trip to Colorado, where he witnessed adaptive skiing for the first time in 1975.

By 1980 he was a member of the U.S. team at the Winter Paralympics in Norway, where he captured golds in slalom and giant slalom. He returned home eager to make adaptive sports available to Alaskans, and started Challenge Alaska that year.

The organization was incorporated in 1982, and in the years since thousands of people with disabilities have benefitted from Challenge Alaska programs. One of them, Andrew Kurka, was a two-time medalist at both the 2018 Paralympics and the 2017 World Championships.

Though it started as a way to get people with disabilities on the ski slopes, Challenge Alaska has expanded. It offers all kinds of outdoor activities, including ice hockey teams for wounded military members and summer activities like kayaking, cycling and fishing. In conjunction with the Anchorage School District, it runs an after-school program for kids in wheelchairs.

Keil has been honored with numerous awards over the years. The Keil Center at the Alyeska Ski Resort — a 4,400-foot facility that offers rentals and lessons — is named for him and his family.

John Lindquist

Swimming was Lindquist’s sports for decades — first as a champion swimmer for Chugiak High School and then as a coach of champions at Kodiak High School, a job he held for 17 years until his 2017 retirement.

In between he spent 11 years teaching and coaching in the Lower Kuskokwim School District. He coached basketball, volleyball and Native Youth Olympics until he and his family moved to Kodiak, where Lindquist returned to the pool deck.

Though it’s located on an island, Kodiak High School wasn’t known for its swim team when Lindquist first arrived. At his first Region III meet with the Bears, the girls team failed to score a single point.

Within a couple of years, Kodiak swimmers ruled the pool under the direction of Lindquist, who among other things introduced two-a-day practices. By the time Lindquist retired, he had coached Kodiak to 22 region titles (boys and girls), three state championships, six runnerup finishes at the state meet, 34 individual state champions and six state-championship relay teams.

Dick Shellhorn

Born and raised in Cordova, Shellhorn’s commitment to his hometown and to sports has been on display for more than 50 years.

In 1972, he became a referee and a sports reporter. He retired from officiating after 50 years in 2022, one year after he was inducted into the Alaska Basketball Hall of Fame. His sports coverage remains an integral part of the Cordova Times.

For years he was the radio voice of Wolverines basketball, and at times he broadcasted games for other high schools.

And he’s an author. Shellhorn has written two books about his experiences as a basketball official and an outdoorsman — “Ball and Stripes: A lifetime of sports adventures” and “Time & Tide: Adventures on Alaska’s Copper River Delta.”

“Basketball has taken me all over Alaska, with radio gear or whistle in hand,” Shellhorn once wrote. “From Barrow to Petersburg, from Dutch Harbor to Tok, it has been a marvelous journey.”

Other nominees:
Roman Dial, Anchorage, wilderness adventurer, educator
Rafael Echavarria, Anchorage track coach
Christa Hayes, Mat-Su PE teacher
Michelle Lackey Maynor, Alaska Raceway owner
Anne Thomas, Mat-Su store owner and event organizer
Past winners
2023: Kathleen Navarre
2022: Beth Bragg
2021: Richard Knowles
2020: Cristy Hickel
2019: Brush Christiansen
2018: Jim Mahaffey
2017: Ma’o Tosi
2016: Dennis Sorenson
2015: Mike Friess
2014: Dick Mize
2013: Don Dennis
2012: Steve Nerland and Don Winchester

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Family of Sponsors

Alaska Airlines | Nicole Johnston | Richard Mize | Advanced Diagnostics, INC | Aktive Soles | Alaska Oil and Gas Association | Aspen Endodontics | Black-Smith, Bethard & Carlson, LLC. | BOSCO's | Coho Financial Group | Continental Auto Group | Don Clary & Judy Besh | Glen Bailey | Invisalign-Ben Ward | JL Properties | Joey Caterinichio & Ja Dorris| Kathleen Navarre | Midas Alaska | Moose's Tooth, Bear Tooth and Broken Tooth Brewing | Perkins Coie - Sarah & A.J. Schirack | R&M Consultants, Inc. | RE/MAX Dynamic Properties Kevin Taylor | Residential Mortgage | Seth Wickersham & Alison Overholt | Taylored Restoration | Korndrop Family Foundation | Arctic Slope Regional Corporation | Replacement Glass | Zareena and Allen Clendaniel | Foley & Pearson | UAA Seawolves | Tony and Carla Slaton Barker | Sportclips Haircuts | Alliance for Support of American Legion Baseball in Alaska | Alice & Gunnar Knapp | Amy and Jason Miller | Burgerfi | Charles Fedullo | Dan Rufner | Darren Lieb | Don Winchester | Donley Family | Dr. Justin Libby, DDS | Firetap | Harlow Robinson | Jason & Shannon Metrokin | Jim & Michelle Hajdukovich | Joe Alston | Kathie Bethard | Krispy Kreme | Kristopher Knauss | Loren Kroon | Mark and Jamie Johnson | Mark Silverman | On the Border | Pete Robinson | Rick Mystrom | Team Heat | Team Moriarty | The Conway Family | Todd Whited | Moria Smith | In memory of Drs. John & Elizabeth Tower | Peter Pounds | Multisport Training of Alaska/Lisa Keller | RSA Engineering

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