Tuesday, December 19, 2006 - Page updated at 12:00 AM

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Sideline Smitty

Madden among the few, the proud, the Chokers

Seattle Times staff reporter

Q: Is the nickname of Grays Harbor Community College teams really "Chokers?" And did John Madden, the NFL commentator and former Super Bowl coach, really play football there?

A: Yes and yes.

Chokers is the school nickname. It refers to loggers who "set chokers," not a team that implodes at crunch time. A "choker" is a chain or rope used to attach logs to a winch line or directly to a tractor-like piece of machinery that pulls logs to a loading area.

"Charlie Choker" is a statue of a logger mascot on the campus in Aberdeen.

Rich Wold, Grays Harbor's new athletic director and men's basketball coach, says friends are stunned when they first hear the nickname and ask, "Did you say the Chokers?"

Madden played football at Grays Harbor in 1956. He has written that he had a job sweeping up at the Mint Café and that his poker skills developed there. It's a safe bet that the café also helped develop the common touch that endears Madden to viewers coast to coast.

Q: The Issaquah School District has a freshman campus, Pacific Cascade, that serves both Skyline and Issaquah high schools. How are sports handled?

A: Mostly, it's get on buses and head to Issaquah High School or Skyline High School when classes are done for the day.

One sport that doesn't leave the campus except for road games is boys and girls basketball. The Issy and Skyline "C" teams play on campus. The Skyline "C" baseball squad will use the ninth-grade campus this spring.

The freshman campus, which opened in the fall of 2005, is an introduction to the intense KingCo 3A rivalry between Issy and Skyline. It also has produced a lot of friendships between kids who spend the next three years going to school on the Sammamish Plateau (Skyline) or in the valley (Issaquah).

"You go into the lunchroom on the day of the freshman football game and you see green [Skyline] jerseys sitting next to purple [Issaquah] jerseys all around the room," said athletic secretary Dawn Cameron, who complimented students for the maturity to be good classmates and opponents.

There was even a joint pep rally before this fall's C team football game.

The biggest headache is freshmen who make junior-varsity or varsity teams and need to get to those practices pronto. Issaquah athletic director Michael Bailey said high-school coaches have had to be flexible because the freshmen don't always arrive on time.

Q: When will the documentary about Roosevelt girls basketball, "Heart of the Game," be released on DVD?

A: Filmmaker Ward Serrill says look for a late-February release. The documentary recently got another plug from Sports Illustrated as one of the best sports movies of the year.


Last week, we wrote that Bellarmine Prep's 111-110 victory over Mount Tahoma was believed to be the state record for combined points in a prep boys basketball game.

Now we have fresh information that two victories by the 1991 West Valley-Yakima team had higher totals. West Valley beat Wapato 125-100 in regulation and later beat Eastmont of East Wenatchee 117-114 in double-overtime. That's 131 points!

Regarding last week's item about Chris Chandler, Everett '83, and Ben Brooks, Chief Sealth '82, being the only Star Times (all-area) picks in both football and basketball, some readers wondered if Nate Robinson, Rainier Beach '02, also wasn't a two-sport selection. The answer is no. Robinson, now a New York Knick, didn't make the basketball team. The selections were made in mid-February, just before Robinson's play went from very good to spectacular. I wish I could vote again but I can say that about a lot of things.

Have a question about high-school sports? Craig Smith will find the answer every Tuesday in The Times. Ask your question in one of the following ways: Voice mail (206-464-8279), snail mail (Craig Smith, Seattle Times Sports, P.O. Box 70, Seattle, WA 98111) or e-mail

Copyright © 2006 The Seattle Times Company


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