Kake’s Kip Howard and Juneau’s Steve Brandner were selected on Friday as the newest members of the Gold Medal Basketball Tournament Hall of Fame before a sell out crowd of basketball fans at the Juneau Douglas High School gymnasium.
“It is a huge honor,” Steve Brandner said. “I am still trying to let it sink in. You play in the tournament all these years and time goes by and you don’t realize that all of a sudden you have played in 22 tournaments.”
Brandner played in his first Gold Medal Tournament in 1979 and it stretched to 23 years of action in the AA, A, C and M brackets. He played in seven championship games, winning titles in 1982, ’86, ’96, 2007 and ’09. His teams were runner-up in ’86 and ’05.
Brandner was an all tournament selection 11 times: ’82, ’84, ’86, ’87, ’88, ’89, ’96, ’97, ’05, ’07 and ’09. In ’96 he was the tournament Most Valuable Player. Brandner also coached Gold Medal teams in ’98, ’99 and ’06.
Other accolades include three years inception member with the City and Borough of Juneau Youth Activities board; 20 years in the Fast Break Club, 12 as president; involvement in the Fast Break Middle School Tournament for nine years; assistant basketball coach at JDHS for seven years; volunteer with the JDHS house building project and carpentry class; volunteer for non-profit services group ‘Helping Hands.’
For the past seven years Brandner was one of the leading Juneau Lions Club volunteers making sure the Gold Medal Basketball Tournament ran smoothly.
For the 60th annual GM tournament Brandner volunteered and donated all the time and materials to make 117 tournament awards from the tournament floor and bleacher wood.
Brandner was actually in the middle of various 2012 tournament duties involved with the Friday night activities when he began to recognize some of the recipients accomplsihments being read to the crowd.
“I was wondering who my teammate was that won this,” Brandner said. “Then I began to understand. I had wondered why my wife had flown from business south to be here.”
Brandner was previously honored by the Gold Medal Hall of Fame as a Worthy Lion.
“I am very humbled to have these honors bestowed on me,” Brandner said. “This tournament, this event, is beyond individual accolades. It is so much a part of the Juneau community that I am just completely thankful to be allowed to contribute.”
Award announcer Sasha Soboleff stated, “Not only has this person donated all the aforementioned time and efforts to so many others as well as make time to play basketball for the Gold Medal Tournament, but he also found time to be married, be a husband and raise two daughters. We as a community are better for having him so involved.”
Howard has played in 21 years of GM tournaments in the B, C and M brackets. Howard is known for his signature wagging of his finger after blocking a shot as a warning to not try that again, and then helping the player up off the floor.
Howard played in ten championship games and helped win eight of those: 1991, ’98, 2006, ’07, ’08, ’09, ’10 and this year’s Masters’ title of 2012. He has been an all tourney selection in a993, ’98, 2000, ’02, ’03, ’05, ’07, 09, and 2012. In 2001 he was the Defensive Player of the bracket and in 2011 received the Sportsmanship Award.
Soboleff stated that, “We here at the Gold Medal tournament and the community of Kake are lucky and honored for having this new inductee so involved.”
Howard is a referee of high school basketball and volunteers at civic and cultural events such as annual Independence Day celebrations, the annual Kake Dog Salmon Festival and the 100th anniversary celebration preparation for Kake Day. He is a member of the Kake fire department and a fire truck driver and a captain of the search and rescue boat in Kake.
When his name was announced, Howard walked onto the court with his head in his hands, wiping tears away.
“It is just so overwhelming,” Howard said. “I had heard about the honor but actually being called out is a different thing. It is an elite club of guys I watched and played with. I consider that the top brand of players out there. I am very honored, humbled and grateful by it. It means more to me than I can even think about expressing in words.”