BYU coach draws upon faith in battle against cancer

Each year, college basketball coaches from across the nation flock to Spokane in support of an annual fundraiser known as “Coaches vs. Cancer.”


BYU men’s basketball coach Dave Rose and his wife Cheryl were in Spokane last weekend to support the Coaches vs. Cancer fundraiser sponsored by Gonzaga coach Mark Few and his wife Marcy. Rose spoke at a banquet on Saturday about his experience overcoming pancreatic cancer. Photo by Craig Howard.

Sponsored by Gonzaga head coach Mark Few and his wife, Marcy, the event has raised millions of dollars for cancer research while serving as a unique podium for inspirational stories that provide hope in the ongoing battle against the disease.

This year, attendees were privileged to hear the extraordinary experience of a cancer survivor from Provo, UT. who arrived in the Inland Northwest with a narrative that added special meaning to last weekend’s festivities.

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BYU-bound Johnston wraps up high school career with state titles, national record

No one was quite sure who had won the 3,200-meter race at last month’s Washington State 3A Track and Field Championships in Tacoma after Ben Johnston and Drew O’Donoghue-McDonald crossed the finish line stride for stride.


A few weeks before graduating from North Central High School in Spokane, Ben Johnston glided to a pair of first-place finishes at the Washington 3A Track Championship Meet in Tacoma. Johnston earned titles in the 1,600 and 3,200 meter runs while helping North Central to its third straight team championship. Contributed Photo.

As the runners filtered onto the infield, Johnston’s coach, Jon Knight, joined thousands in the stands at Mt. Tahoma High School in contemplating the question of the moment.

“I asked Ben if he’d won,” Knight said. “He said, ‘I think so, coach.’ It was classic Ben – not real vocal, just a humble response.”

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Premier soccer in Spokane strives for net gain

While billions of soccer fans around the planet cheer on their favorite clubs during the latest rendition of the World Cup, a pair of teams from the Inland Northwest continue to generate some serious enthusiasm of their own.


The Spokane Black Widows (left) and the Spokane Spiders play their home games at Joe Albi Stadium in north Spokane. The Black Widows compete in the Premier Women’s Soccer League while the Spiders are part of the Premier Development League, a branch of the United Soccer Leagues. Contributed Photo.

Spokane’s Joe Albi Stadium might fall short of the 94,000-plus seats at Soccer City Stadium in Johannesburg, South Africa, but local followers of the world’s most popular sport are quickly discovering that quality soccer has arrived in the form of the Spokane Black Widows and the Spokane Spiders, two premier league squads that feature area athletes competing for the love of the game, not a paycheck.

The Black Widows compete in the Pacific Conference of the Premier Women’s Soccer League with teams from cities like Sacramento, San Francisco and Portland. Currently, Spokane stands at 2-3, good for fifth place in the Pacific’s North Division.

The Spiders, meanwhile are looking for their second win in the competitive Northwest Division of the Premier Development League, a branch of the United Soccer Leagues. Formed in 1986, the USL serves as the soccer equivalent of minor league baseball with teams throughout the U.S., Canada and Puerto Rico organized into separate leagues representing half-a-dozen skill levels.

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Spokane Valley family emphasizes hoops with a heart

On the most celebrated day of the year in college basketball, Freddie and Austin Rehkow are preparing for church.

It’s not the first time that the NCAA Final Four – featuring a quartet of the best teams in the nation – has coincided with the semiannual General Conference of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Last year, the University of North Carolina – the preferred team in the Rehkow household – competed in a semifinal game against Villanova, but Freddie and his son, Austin, bypassed the basketball to attend the Saturday night priesthood session.

This year, the Rehkows – members of the Belle Terre Ward in the Spokane East Stake – once again set aside their favorite sport to hear instruction from church leaders. Freddie said the arrangement of priorities is part of the family’s commitment to put the gospel first.


Basketball is the No. 1 sport at the home of Freddie and Kim Rehkow, members of the Belle Terre Ward in the Spokane East Stake. The Rehkow starting lineup includes (from left to right) Ryan, Cameron, Kim, Austin, Freddie and Landon. Contributed Photo.

“You could make excuses about not going to church,” he said. “But it’s just the right thing to do.”

The balance of church and sports has always been a pillar at the Rehkow home even when it meant Austin missing a chance to play in a national championship youth soccer game because it fell on Sunday. Austin said the policy has been a testimony builder.

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March Gladness – Former Spokane missionary finds balance between life, basketball

You can count on an enthusiastic gathering of 10,506 to file through the turnstiles at Charles Koch Arena in Wichita, Kansas this Wednesday, where the attire may be casual but the fans are certainly not.

It’s that way for every home game featuring the Wichita State men’s basketball team – a devoted sell-out crowd, a sea of yellow and black and decibel levels that can be heard in most neighboring counties.

This week, the local squad hosts the University of Nevada in the first-round of the National Invitational Tournament, part of a bracket that leads to the national semifinals in New York’s Madison Square Garden. Graham Hatch will be in the starting lineup for Wichita State, just as he has for all 31 games this season.


Graham Hatch averages over nine points and nearly four rebounds a game as a starting forward for Wichita State University. Hatch served an LDS mission in the Spokane area from 2005 to 2007. Photo by Dale Stelz.

While the usual thunderous applause will greet Hatch as he takes the court on Wednesday, it wasn’t that long ago that the Arizona native was walking the quiet streets of Deer Park, WA., sharing his testimony of the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Hatch served two years in the Spokane area as a missionary for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. His commitment from 2005 to 2007 meant putting his favorite sport on hold.

For Hatch, the decision was as simple as a breakaway dunk.

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Playing with heart – EWU linebacker triumphs over adversity

In a football career distinguished by an inventory of individual and team success, Makai Borden has learned to cope with the despondency of defeat.

There was the upset loss in the first round of the state playoffs when Borden was a senior at Puyallup High School, sending his previously undefeated team home for the year. As a sophomore at Eastern Washington University, Borden watched from the sidelines with a broken foot as eventual national champion Appalachian State escaped with a 38-35 victory in the NCAA Division 1A playoffs.

Yet none of the disappointments on the field compare to the day in 1996 when Borden lost his father, Randy, to cancer.

Randy had played football as well – first as a lineman at Brigham Young University then later at the University of Hawaii before a surfing injury shattered his wrist. He went on to become a successful musician in his native land – the songs he once played over three decades ago can still be heard over the airwaves in Hawaii today.

Randy met his wife, Patrice, when both were enrolled at BYU. They were married in the temple and had four children. Makai was the youngest.

Before he fell ill, Randy taught martial arts and gave motivational speeches at schools and youth centers. Even when he was undergoing treatment for cancer, he attended each one of his kids’ sporting events, rolling out onto the soggy turf in a wheelchair, bundled up against the rain and chill.

“He never missed a game,” Patrice said.

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Johnston wins state title

Congratulations are in order for Ben Johnston, a senior at North Central High School and a member of the River Ridge Ward in the Spokane North Stake. Johnston won the 3A individual championship at the Washington 3A Cross Country Meet in Pasco last Saturday with a time of 15:15. North Central also won its fourth consecutive team title. Read more about Johnston’s feats in the Sentinel Sports section.

North Central cross country athlete races to victory

Ben Johnston, a senior at North Central High School and a member of the River Ridge Ward in the Spokane North Stake, ran to a first-place finish at the 3A/4A Regional Cross Country Meet at Wandermere Golf Course in north Spokane last Friday. Johnston completed the 3.1-mile course with a time of 15:23, 20 seconds ahead of the second-place runner. The senior will join his North Central teammates at the state meet this Friday in Pasco. A story about Ben’s running achievements appears in the Latter-day Sentinel sports section.

Everyone a winner at North Stake Fun Run

Some would say that the words ‘fun’ and ‘run’ do not belong in the same sentence. It’s sort of like saying ‘enjoyable’ and ‘root canal’ in the same breath. They just don’t fit.

But, alas, 226 runners, from the young to the old, ran on Labor Day and they had fun along the way.

Yesterday marked the 29th anniversary of what’s become a venerable Spokane North Stake tradition, the 5K Labor Day Fun Run. It started out as a community run, a neighborhood event for the stake and has grown to be, as one stake member described it, “a fairly big deal on the north side of Spokane.”


The racers line up at the starting line preparing for the Fun Run to start. Photo by McKay Allen.

“Our focus isn’t as much missionary work as it is neighborhood outreach,” says former Stake Activities Chairperson, Chris Heftel.

But, a missionary tool the Fun Run has become. Organizers estimated that up to 30 percent of the 226 participants are not LDS. Full-time missionaries serve as volunteers at the event, helping runners register and ushering them along.

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North Central runner reaps rewards of going the extra mile

The fleetest of the fleet gathered in Portland, Ore. on a early winter day in December last year.

The Nike Cross Nationals – the World Series of high school cross country events – featured 45 of the most accomplished runners in the U.S., along with teams like York High School, a program that had won no less than 30 straight Illinois state titles.

The North Spokane Cross Country Club, comprised of student-athletes from North Central High School, was also represented at the starting line. A month before, the team had won its third straight 3A Washington state cross country championship and followed it up with a win at the Northwest regional meet.


Ben Johnston, a senior at North Central High School and a member of the River Ridge Ward in the Spokane North Stake, helped the North Spokane Cross Country Club to a national championship at the Nike Cross Nationals in Portland, Ore. last December. Contributed Photo.

NC junior Ben Johnston and his teammates began the competition as the top-ranked team in the country, but by the four-kilometer mark, the squad was fading on the leader board. By the time the race was over, only senior Andy Kimpel would break into the top 10, placing sixth.

“We were pretty depressed,” Johnston said. “I just remember runners passing me three or four at a time.”

Then someone relayed the news that the team should report to the medal stand.

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