Clarion Calls

Posted: Friday, August 13, 2010

Jeff's call: Andrews will be missed

I got on the website of the Alaska School Activities Association Thursday looking for the football scores from Week 1 of the prep season.

No dice.

So I kept combing around the site until I found an item that made it all make sense -- John Andrews had retired as ASAA's director of special events.

Andrews came to the Kenai Peninsula Borough School District in 1982 and became Skyview's athletic director when the school opened in 1990.

There, he quickly gained a reputation as a tireless worker with a talent for staging big events. Among the regular-season events that blossomed under Andrews were the Skyview Invitationals in both track and cross country.

Andrews wrote the bid that brought the state cross country meet to Skyview in 1998, 1999 and 2000. He also wrote the bid that resulted in ASAA's first state soccer tournament in 2000. Skyview also hosted that event.

Andrews retired from Skyview in 2001 and moved to ASAA to work at the special events director.

"He brought a lot of experience from his previous athletic director career," said Gary Matthews, the executive director at ASAA. "He was very highly organized and passionate about activities and state tournaments.

"He had a lot of credibility around the state because he's been involved in activities for a long time."

Matthews said Andrews helped to improve the quality of state tournaments. He did that by continuing the model he started by running those first cross country meets at Skyview.

A characteristic of an Andrews state meet is pomp. This could drive reporters crazy, because we'd just rather get the story quickly and go make deadline, but the important thing is Andrews' dressing up of events made them more special for the athletes.

Matthews said Andrews also worked to improve communication with member schools and the general public.

This is where reporters loved him. He worked hard to get a lot of activities information, like the aforementioned football scores, on the ASAA website.

This proved to be an invaluable resource for reporters, especially as the amount of time devoted to sports reporting decreased over the past decade due to tough times for newspapers. A lot of the stuff reporters used to take the time to dig up was now dug up by Andrews at ASAA.

Isaiah Vreeman has taken over for Andrews as the director of special events. Matthews said ASAA will look to continue Andrews' legacy. For instance, he said staff is being trained to keep web content updated.

Matthews said he is excited about the staff going forward, and said Andrews may do contract work for ASAA from time to time. The fact still remains that John Andrews is a very hard man to replace, something Matthews freely admits.

"He is definitely one of those people where you'll be able to tell that he's gone," said Allan Miller, then the assistant principal at Skyview when Andrews retired in 2001.

That fact remains as true today as it was then.

Mike's call: What about the men?

In conducting research (and by research I mean flipping through five years worth of Clarion archives) for my story in today's paper on the increase of female runners on the Kenai Peninsula, I also jotted down notes on male participants. Here's a look at what I found:

Rotary Unity Run -- The race saw small increases of men from 2006 to 2008. In 2009, only 45 men ran compared to 62 the previous year. This year 65 total males competed, which equaled the same number of five-kilometer female runners. A total of 88 women participated this year.

Run for the River -- Just 21 men ran four years ago when the event only had a five-kilometer race. The number more than doubled to 44 in 2007. After adding six more in 2008, a total of 65 males raced last year. This year 96 men competed. Quite an improvement from 2006. But the gains paled in comparison to the women. A total of 184 females ran this year, an increase of 147 from four years ago.

Kenai River Marathon -- Through 2006 to 2008, the number of men and women competing in this event were close to even. The men averaged 22.7 runners through the three years while the women averaged 21.3. But last year the ladies had 56 total runners to 31 for the men. 2009 had the most participants for either gender since 2006. Out of the four coed races I researched, this race had the fewest total participants -- 219. It also had the closest male-to-female ratio. An average of 30 women have competed from 2006 to 2009 compared to 24.8 men.

Everything But the Red Run -- Females outnumbered males from 2005 to 2009, but this year two more men participated than women. A total of 196 women to 144 men have run the race over the last five years. An average of 39.2 women ran the event since 2005 compared to an average of 28.8 men.

I suppose I should give my opinion as to why more women are interested in running than men. But I just don't know. Why is volleyball seen more as a female sport? And why is ice hockey dominated by men? I'm sure there are plenty of scientific explanations as to why males and females are genetically predisposed to certain types of activities, and even more studies disproving those predispositions.

For now I'm content knowing that there's an increase in female runners on the Kenai Peninsula. I'll leave the explanation up to you.

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