By Web Master, 4-27-12
In March 2008, Brock Osweiler walked into the Flathead Beacon office. He towered over Myers Reece (the Flathead High School junior stood 6’7”), shook the reporter’s hand and smiled as he answered questions about his basketball season, which would be his last.
A week later Osweiler was featured on our inaugural “Best of Preps” cover, an idea Reece, photographer Lido Vizzutti and I hatched to feature portraits and vignettes of some of the best high school athletes in Flathead County. Four years later, Osweiler entered the NFL draft as one of top quarterback prospects in the country. In hindsight, his decision to forgo his high school senior basketball season to focus on football appears like the right one.
We have published 11 Best of Preps issues and now print three each year. The latest hit newsstands last week. And production day – that is, the day athletes from across the valley graciously come by our office for an interview and a photograph – is one of the highlights of working here.
Meeting these high schoolers, albeit briefly, is always rewarding. I suppose it’s a credit to their parents to how polite and engaging their kids are. We’ve also watched as many of them grow up and accomplish far more than just being recognized as an outstanding athlete by the local newspaper.
There’s former Glacier High School standout Maddey Frey, Best of Preps fall 2008 and 2009, who was voted the University of Montana soccer team’s newcomer of the year in 2010 and last year helped the Grizzlies win their first Big Sky Conference title in 11 years. I’m friends with Maddey’s parents and occasionally get the opportunity to catch up with her. She has much more figured out than I ever did at her age.
Colt Idol, Best of Preps winter 2008 and 2009, graduated from Whitefish High School as the Bulldogs’ all-time leading scorer in basketball with plans of playing at Montana State University. But plans change. After undergoing a third knee surgery, he took a semester off to study painting under his father, the well-known sculptor Dick Idol. Colt, in an interview with the Whitefish Pilot, said he is now selling so many paintings that he’s had to postpone going back to school to keep up with demand. It turns out, Idol’s talents extend beyond his athleticism.
The same can be said for Shane St. Onge, the Glacier High senior who was chosen for the cover of our latest Best of Preps. Yes, St. Onge can wrestle. He is the reigning Class AA 160-pound state champion. But there’s so much more to his story: rehabbing from a car crash, battling back from a blood clot. He has no plans to continue in the sport. Instead, St. Onge – a 4.0 student who is active in the school theater and was named the top student-athlete wrestler in the state – plans to study pre-law or political science at the University of Montana. His most ambitious goals are off the wrestling mat.
There’s a new crop of athletes worth watching, including Bigfork freshman runner Makena Morley, Best of Preps fall 2011. She was named the Montana Gatorade Cross Country Girls Runner of the Year, won the Class B state title this past fall and continues to get faster. Oh, and she also maintains stellar grades and finds time to volunteer in her community.
Shelby Scoggins is a multisport Bigfork athlete who I recently met through the United Way’s Leaders of Tomorrow program. She was my job shadow and is considering pursuing a career in journalism. In our meeting, she was enthusiastic to learn about a profession that is often thankless and far too cynical. It’s safe to say she would make a great editor.
Of course, this is just a sampling of the many talented young people I’ve come across in the Flathead Valley in recent years. But they are, like many of their classmates, worth bragging about.
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