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Hoops star Didrickson honored in Alaska Legislature

Posted: January 30, 2013 - 12:06am
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1947 Sitka ANB, back left-to-right: coach Bill Walton, Moses Johnson, Chuck Didrickson, Roger Lang, Herb Didrickson, Al Perkins, and manager John Hope. Front l-r: statistician Bud Widmark, Jim Walton, Joe Truitt, Nick Kasakan, Ray Nielsen, and Henry Benson.
1947 Sitka ANB, back left-to-right: coach Bill Walton, Moses Johnson, Chuck Didrickson, Roger Lang, Herb Didrickson, Al Perkins, and manager John Hope. Front l-r: statistician Bud Widmark, Jim Walton, Joe Truitt, Nick Kasakan, Ray Nielsen, and Henry Benson.

The Alaska Legislature has honored Herb Didrickson, one of the newest inductees into the Alaska Sports Hall of Fame.

Sen. Bert Stedman, R-Sitka, authored the citation honoring Didrickson, who will be inducted into the hall next month. Nearly every member of the Legislature signed on to the citation as co-sponsors.

The Citation, dated Monday, was read across in both the Alaska House and Senate.

Lawmakers often write citations as a way to honor notable Alaskans or happenings, like the winner of the Iditarod sled dog race or a high school basketball championship team.

The Citation read as follows:

The Twenty-eighth Alaska State Legislature is proud to honor Herb Didrickson, who will be inducted into the Alaska Sports Hall of Fame, Class of 2013, on February 26, 2013, in Anchorage.

The list of athletes who have already been inducted into the Alaska Sports Hall of Fame are impressive and includes professional and collegiate basketball players, internationally known mountain runners, mountain climbers of national fame, Olympic medalists, baseball pioneers, the founder of the Iditarod, a five-time Iditarod champion, a World Champion musher, all pro NFL players, to name just a few.

Herb is a splendid example of the Alaska Sports Hall of Fame mission statement and he is believed to be one of the finest basketball players ever seen in the past seven decades. He was a good fit in educating and teaching Alaskans and visitors to the state about people, events and moments in Alaskan sports that brought distinction to the state.

Herb’s esteemed historical basketball episode consists of the following: Sitka BIA Elementary 1939-1942; Sheldon Jackson High School 1944-1946; Sheldon Jackson Junior College 1947-1948; Sitka ANB 1949-1964; Old-Timers competition (local, Southeast, Regional and National) 1965-1990s.

His colleagues, friends and family expressed that they have not seen Herb’s equal in Alaska and truly believe that Herb was far greater than anyone who matriculated southward to participate in big time NCAA universities. Herb had no peer when it came to dribbling the ball, one of the many “weapons” he possessed. He resorted to “behind the back dribble” only when it was advantageous, and was the most fundamentally sound player ever seen. Speed was another asset, allowing him to easily penetrate the opposing team’s defense while being very difficult to contain when he was playing offense. He was the very best in ball handling and passing. He was the finest guard/play-maker ever seen. He was the top sportsmanship player in Southeast who never resorted to excuses or explanations when his team was defeated. Herb was modest and quick to praise his opponents.

Herb is highly respected and is very popular in Sitka as well as across Alaska. He was greatly involved in the Sitka community and spent many years with the Sitka ANB and Sitka Tribe of Alaska. He has supported community activities for many years as well as offering the same support to youth activities locally as well as on the State level. He is a life-member of the Presbyterian Church and a strong supporter of Sheldon Jackson College.

A street in Sitka was recently named in his honor. Sheldon Jackson College christened its gymnasium the “Herb Didrickson Gym.” He was given the “Christian Citizenship Award” a few years ago, which is the highest award given by the College. He was inducted into the following Halls of Fame: Sheldon Jackson High School; Sheldon Jackson College; Sitka ANB; Gold Medal Juneau Lions Club basketball tournament; and the Alaska High School Activities Association.

After 30 years of service, Didrickson retired from the Bureau of Indian Affairs. He was a teacher in the Industrial Department of Mt. Edgecumbe High School. He was coach for the freshmen and junior varsity boy’s basketball teams, and was the assistant coach for the varsity boy’s team. The members of the Twenty-eighth Alaska State Legislature extend their sincere congratulations to Herb Didrickson on his long-overdue and well-deserved induction to the Alaska Sports Hall of Fame.

Legislators who signed on in support included primary sponsor Stedman, President of the Senate Charlie Huggins and senators Bishop, Coghill, Dunleavy, Dyson, Egan, Ellis, Fairclough, Gardner, Giessel, Hoffman, Kelly, McGuire, Meyer, Micciche, Olson, Stevens, and Wielechowski; Speaker of the House Mike Chenault and Regresentatives Costello, Drummond, Edgmon, Feige, Foster, Gara, Gattis, Gruenberg, Guttenberg, Hawker, Herron, Higgins, Holmes, Hughes, Isaacson, Johnson, Josephson, Kawasaki, Keller, Kerttula, Kreiss-Tomkins, LeDoux, Lynn, Millett, Munoz, Nageak, Neuman, Olson, Pruitt, Reinbold, Saddler, Seaton, Stloze, Tarr, Thompson, Tuck, P. Wilson, T. Wilson.

The community of Sitka, Herb’s hometown, is planning a Banquet/Tribute to Didrickson on Sunday, Feb. 24, at 6 p.m. in the Harrigan Centennial Hall. It is unknown if Didrickson will be able to attend. A close friend of Didrickson stated in an email that Herb is still undergoing treatment for a brain tumor in Anchorage and the cancer has spread to his neck.

Didrickson was the first player selected into the Gold Medal Hall Of Fame and it was only fitting he attended the induction ceremony when the Gold Medal Basketball Tournament was selected into the Alaska Sports Hall Of Fame in 2012.

“I remember the first time I stepped onto the Gold Medal court,” Didrickson said of the first annual GM tourney in 1947. “I played for Sheldon Jackson College. We lost to the Ketchikan Rockets 52-50. Now to hold a trophy for the tournament is really special.”

Didrickson was voted the Sportsmanship Award in that first Gold Medal and won the MVP Award the following year; these were the first of many honors in his career.

When his own name was selected this year for the Alaska Sports Hall Of Fame, he stated it was an honor but there were more important things.

“I am honored anytime anyone remembers my name,” Didrickson said with a laugh. “But I am truly honored with many friends made throughout Southeast Alaska.”

Didrickson stated he has loved the sport as a player, as a referee and now, as a fan.

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