Daily Sitka Sentinel

Sitkan Named to State Hall of Fame

    Sitka Fine Arts Camp Executive Director Roger Schmidt has been selected to the Alaska School Activities Association’s Hall of Fame, taking a spot next to the some of the best athletes, coaches and musicians in state history.
    Schmidt was one of 10 individuals chosen for the ASAA’s class of 2012.
    ASAA, the state organization that oversees high school sports and activities, announced its 2012 class late last week.
    Schmidt joins hockey players, soccer coaches, an opera singer and others in the 2012 class. He’ll be formally inducted at an Anchorage ceremony in August, becoming one of only a few Sitkans who have received one of ASAA’s highest honors.
    Schmidt was nominated by former Mt. Edgecumbe High School coach, teacher and administrator Gil Truitt, who was a member of ASAA’s first Hall of Fame class in 2006.
    Schmidt has known about the honor for a few weeks. He said this morning that the best part was getting Truitt’s seal of approval.
    “The biggest honor for me was just having Gil Truitt select me and nominate me,” he said. “I was really touched he would consider me for that.”
    Schmidt, who grew up here and learned the trombone in the music programs at Blatchley Middle School and Sitka High, has run the Fine Arts Camp for 12 years. In that time, the camp has grown to serve more than 600 students. ASAA’s formal biography of Schmidt noted that he led the effort to revitalize the Sheldon Jackson campus, with the Fine Arts Camp taking over the historic downtown property last year.
    Truitt said this was the second time he nominated Schmidt for the ASAA Hall of Fame, which was established in 2006 to “identify and honor, in a permanent manner, individuals who exhibited high ethical standards and integrity while achieving excellence in high school athletics and activities, as well as others who have distinguished themselves by virtue of exemplary contributions to the advancement of interscholastic athletics and activities in the State of Alaska.”
    Truitt said that members of the selection committee in Anchorage had not heard of the Fine Arts Camp when they received Schmidt’s first nomination. But Truitt responded with reams of information about the camp, including a series of articles from the Sentinel detailing the takeover of the Sheldon Jackson campus.
    “I’m thrilled he made it,” Truitt said. “Roger deserves it. I know a lot of people will be pleased.”
    Truitt said he has known Schmidt for many years – they were neighbors on Japonski Island when Schmidt was growing up – and that he “greatly respects what he has done with the Fine Arts Camp.”
    In addition to Truitt, former Sheldon Jackson High School basketball star Herb Didrickson was also inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2006.
    The next year, in 2007, Karen Grussendorf, a longtime drill and dance team coach at Sitka High got the nod. ASAA’s website said Sitka drill teams won seven Region V titles under Grussendorf from 1969 to 1979. She began her career with the drill team in 1968 and retired after 30 years of service.
    That same year, Mt. Edgecumbe girls basketball coach Carl Blackhurst made the Hall of Fame. Blackhurst was a two-time 3A state cross country champion for Haines in the 1990s and went on to run collegiately at Adams State, where he racked up All-America honors in cross country and track.
    The Hall of Fame also includes household sports names like Carlos Boozer, Trajan Langdon, Scott Gomez, Kikkan Randall and Mark Schlereth.
    In addition to Schmidt and Grussendorf, Truitt said he had helped with the successful nominations of Ketchikan music teacher Roy McPherson (2010) and Kake basketball coach Dwayne Davies (2008).
    The 2012 Hall of Fame class is heavy on musicians. In addition to Schmidt, the class includes Richard Cooper, of Haines, and Vivica Genaux, of Fairbanks. Like Schmidt, Cooper is a trombone player, while Genaux is an opera singer. Mike Smithers, a longtime Ketchikan High swimming coach, is also a member of the induction class.
    “I was really interested in the different things they’ve done,” Schmidt said, referring to his fellow 2012 inductees. “The Hall of Fame is recognizing the diversity of the type of activities and pursuits kids in the Alaska public schools pursue and are successful at.”
    The Alaska Commercial Company, which operates the Lakeside grocery store here and has stores across rural Alaska, was selected to the Hall of Fame as a sponsor of high school events, while the Nordic Skiing Association of Anchorage got the nod for “trail maintenance and officiating.”

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