Kitsap Hall of Famers look back in time at ceremony

When Larry Dixon was 11, he was late for a basketball game. “I began to break down and thought my life is over. I’m done with sports.”

He blamed his mom because she was getting her hair done. “She had broken down in tears, and I didn’t understand as an 11-year-old,” Dixon said Jan. 28 after receiving his award for the Kitsap Hall of Fame.

After talking to his coach and realizing he was going to be alright, he went to tell his mom, and his mindset changed. “When you grow up, you realize, my mom poured just as much into sports as me. She never missed a game I started, and my sisters followed the same lead. They were my guardian angels looking over me.”

Dixon went on to star in football not only at Olympic High School, but also at Army in college. During his speech, Dixon thanked his family because they were the reason why he accomplished everything.

The Kitsap Athletic Roundtable inducted 11 athletes and two teams into the Hall of Fame in a ceremony at the Kiana Lodge in Poulsbo.

Marvin Williams, former Bremerton and NBA player who was this year’s biggest name, deferred his induction until next year. So Miller Black Eagle was the first one to be inducted, winning the Rex Brown Distinguished Service Award.

“I was fortunate to know Rex Brown during his time as a referee and umpire,” Black Eagle said. “He was someone who approached responsibilities with professionalism and gave back to the community and game. I am humbled and grateful to the committee for allowing me to receive such an extinguished award named after a man of honor.”

Black Eagle excelled in football, basketball and track at East High School before graduating in 1967. Afterward, he established a Native American Studies Program at Washington State University, established Title IV Indian Education programs in the Federal Way, Bremerton and Highline school districts, and much more.

Rickie Brown, a graduate of West Bremerton, has been a referee for the Peninsula Football Officials Association since 1982. He won the Dick Todd Officials Award. In the last 40 years, he spent nearly every night away from his family to support the community. Out of all the games he officiated, nothing matches his first high school football performance.

“It was CK vs. Olympic, and it was a big rivalry game,” Brown said. “Guess who my referee was? Dick Todd, and I was the umpire. It was raining, windy and stormy. I came out soaking wet but was amazed at how quickly those kids could move. After that game, my career took off.”

Then the 1995 South Kitsap softball squad and 1969 West High football team were inducted. West went 9-1, losing to Central Kitsap 3-0 in the season opener. Many considered them the best team in the state since they averaged only three points against them per game. South Kitsap’s softball squad finished fourth in state, had the highest GPA in the state, and had several players go on to compete in college.

Afterward, some of the greatest players from decades ago were inducted into the hall, including Bremerton’s tennis star Winfred Lim and Howard Thoesmke. In addition, Nicole Zygmontowicz, Drew Vettleson and Jake Velarde accepted their awards.

Since Ryan Kelley could not attend, Chad Nass ended the ceremony. The South Kitsap wrestling coach ended the evening “congratulating all the other people being inducted today. I feel humbled to be a part of great athletes and even better people.”