Today marks the induction of the seventh class into the Alaska School Activities Association Alaska High School Hall of Fame, held at the Sheraton in Anchorage.
Ten individuals and two organizations will be inducted into the Hall of Fame this year, which will bring the total up to 74 individuals and four organizations, ranging from former athletes to coaches and administrators.
Among the 10 inductees this year will be John Andrews, former athletic administrator at Skyview High School, and Craig Jung, former science teacher and girls basketball coach at Kenai Central High School.
John Andrews was the Skyview athletic director from 1990, the year the school opened, to 2001, when he left to work for ASAA as the Director of Special Events, as position he retired from in 2010.
“It’s an extraordinary honor to even be considered as an inductee,” said Andrews, who still lives in the area. “There’s so many deserving individuals that I’ve worked with in the school district over the years, and I really feel humbled that they would even consider that I would be worthy of that award.”
Craig Jung took up the girls basketball coaching job in 1977 at Kenai and held the reigns until 1999, a successful 23-year span which includes a state championship title in 1991.
“It certainly is an honor, and I don’t want to downplay its significance, because I guess some people would kind of consider it the pinnacle, but for me, just the joy of coaching kids and being there every day and taking teams above where they probably should have went is probably the pinnacle for me,” Jung said of the nomination. “I look at some of the people who are being inducted this year, who have been inducted in the past, and to think that I’m in that company, is really special, but it’s not any more special than what I did to get there basically.”
Andrews served as tournament director for 21 regional tournaments and four state tournaments. According to ASAA, he was very active in professional organizations and served as a board member and secretary of the Kenai Peninsula School Activities Association, president of the Kenai Volleyball Association, secretary and treasurer of Region III and received the “Golden Apple Award” for outstanding contribution to the Kenai Peninsula Borough School District by the school board in 2001.
Andrews also served as a coach for 16 years and officiated volleyball for 21 years.
“What drew me to Alaska obviously is the beauty in the state, but also the fact that education was really expanding in 1982,” Andrews said. “I was director of a special-ed program in Oregon that was not having much success, and here in Alaska, there were all these school districts that were expanding like crazy. Just to be a part of the whole excitement of a school system that was growing and expanding was what had me, and I applied to five different school districts, and the Kenai district was the first to contact me.”
Skyview was built and finished in 1988, the same year as Nikiski high, but did not open for two years, due to the huge population in Nikiski that needed to be satisfied first. Add to that the fact that Soldotna did not have as big a population transfer as previously thought, and many students that attended Soldotna did not want to make the switch to Skyview, and the move to open was delayed.
“I always felt that you shouldn’t look at it as a decrease in the number of trophies you’ll have, but an increase in number of opportunities for kids,” he said. “Now you have twice as many choirs and bands, football teams, basketball teams, cheerleading teams, student councils and such,” Andrews said.
Andrews worked as athletic director at Nikiski those first two years, but because he lived in Sterling, the daily drive there and back became unbearable at times, and when Skyview finally opened in 1990, Andrews jumped at the chance.
“The first year here was exciting because we didn’t know how many kids would actually enroll, and we broke 400 that first year and it kept growing after that,” he said. “The kids here really enjoyed it. The faculty that came here was just a really tight-knit group.”
One of Andrews’ many accomplishments throughout his time at Skyview is a shining display case full of the numerous awards and trophies that Skyview athletes, scholars and musicians have received throughout the years.
Located directly in front of the doors leading into the school, Andrews said it was important for him and the school to take pride of its accomplishments and to display them up front.
“That was one of my goals, when I worked for ASAA, to have something to not forget the athletes, coaches, all the people that have contributed to the schools that come and go over the years,” Andrews said.
Alongside the display case, on the wall, is a large list of names of athletes that currently hold school records in their respective sports. While many schools list their fastest times for track and field, this list includes top marks for every sport, including football, basketball, volleyball and skiing. Andrews said it was important for him to include every sport and athlete, not just the fastest sprinters or jumpers.
“It’s nice to see that they’ve continued that after I left,” he said. “When you open a school, you get to start all the traditions, and that’s really fun and cool, and you think of ways to honor kids that excel at different activities, and I started tournaments that are still going on — the 22nd annual cross-country tournament at Skyview for example — and it feels good to know that those traditions are still alive.”
It was Andrews’ hard work that brought to Skyview a number of top athletic events, such as the state cross-country running championships and state soccer tournament.
“I started saying that we can start these tournaments and invite everyone in the state, and have 25 schools here,” Andrews said. “And we had the only all-purpose, all-weather track, and we hosted the regional track meets, so I was glad we were able to actually get the spotlight of the state tournaments here, and three years in a row, we hosted the state cross-country meet here at the Tsalteshi Trails, and I worked really hard to get soccer recognizable here, and we were able to host the state soccer tournament as well in 2000.”
Skyview’s Tsalteshi Trails have continued to expand and host the Skyview Invitational cross-country running event every year in late August, a race that typically attracts the majority of schools from around the state.
Jung, who spent most of his career coaching the Kardinals girls basketball team, still occasionally finds the time to help out with current sports events.
“People that I’ve looked at as role models for me, like Bob Boudreaux and Tom Huffer to name a few, those are guys I’ve looked up to and said I wish I could do things like they did,” Jung said. “The other part of it is I look at the names that aren’t there, yet, that hopefully will be there. I was fortunate enough to have a couple of great mentors that really helped me that aren’t in the Hall yet, and I think how can this be? I’m here but they’re not.”
Jung was honored four times as Region III Coach of the Year. He was also Alaska State 4A Coach of the year in 1991, the year Kenai won the state basketball championship.
“Most people would say that the state championship we won is the most special, but there were other games that we won that we shouldn’t have won with teams that beat more talented teams,” Jung said. “Those moments are very special, of course, winning the state championship is special and winning our first region championship is special, but there were lots of other times that I look back and thought we were going to win six games with a group of kids and we won 16.”
While Jung certainly appreciates the honor of receiving a spot in the Hall of Fame, he attributes his success to the knowledge and experience of others.
Jung recalled a trip one year up to Anchorage to play the Dimond Lynx, and he noticed a “gentleman who was probably 10 years older with a crew cut and a coat and tie,” and after watching them play and liking what he saw, he approached the man to talk about game strategy.
“I asked him for a little of his time, and he said sure!” Jung described. “I sat down and told him that everything his team does is how I want my teams to play, and said I know that you can’t share everything and maybe you don’t want to share anything and I understand that.
“He said no, I’ll share anything you want, and he talked about defense and some things about the game, and that became a tradition, when we played each other, after the game we would sit and go over things and share ideas.”
The man’s name was Earl Walker, and together, they would share ideas.
“After awhile, I hadn’t seen coach Walker for a while, because he moved to Arizona,” Jung said. “He moved back and this year at the region tournament in Wasilla, a mutual friend came to me and said they had someone I’d want to see, and it was coach Walker. We sat down and spent a good six hours together that day and it was still the same thing.”
Jung also mentioned the late Cliff Massie, whose name adorns the Kenai Central gym floor, as another coach who inspired him. Massie was the athletic director and boys basketball coach when Jung started at Kenai in the late ’70s.
“He just taught me things like how to travel,” Jung said. “It’s Alaska, you got to travel a lot, so don’t use a long bus trip or bumpy plane ride into Kodiak as an excuse for poor play. It was things like that, how a Kenai Kardinal conducted themselves and what it meant to be a Kardinal.”
Jung explained that much of his success with the team was created from the chance to work and improve as a season went by. Before the days of WPI (Winning Percentage Index), teams realistically only needed to play well at the end of the year, right when Jung’s team was peaking.
“That was something I would always try to instill in kids, and there were three things I told them,” Jung said. “Number one, you have to have fun. If this isn’t fun for you, something’s wrong. Two, we need to work hard every day, and three, we need to be better than when we started the season.
“If we do those three things, the wins will take care of themselves.”
Jung still continues to be a part of sports events, helping out when he can, and that is something he has learned, having been on the other end of things most of his career, as his last eight years he was also the athletic director at Kenai.
“I knew how much you rely on other people to help you, whether that be timing swim meets or track events or running the clock at a volleyball game,” he said. “I made it a point when I retired to do that, and I still do that and substitute even — I still average probably three days a week in the winter when I’m in town.”
With his and Andrews’ induction into the Alaska High School Hall of Fame, Jung can appreciate his years spent at Kenai even more.
“I’m so happy with my role now, I just get to show up, be around the players, go to the games, see old friends, but not have all the responsibility I once had,” he said. “The only downside of coaching that gets tough when you get older is the travel — you get tired of all the long trips in the cold.”