Another year is about to conclude in the Lahontan Valley.
A new president took the office in January, the box office declined and protests continue to flag the NFL. But on the local level, Fallon had another year to be proud of as the Greenwave produced state champions and saw the community come together in a time of need.
Here are my top five moments from 2017.
1. Hall of Fame becomes reality
For more than a century, high school athletics have been a mainstay in the community. From the Melon Pickers to the Greenwave, Fallon has won many regional and state championships. And many athletes have gone on to have stellar careers in college and in the pros.
Not until this year, though, did Fallon have a high school sports Hall of Fame. The Greenwave Hall of Fame inducted 35 into the “First Wave” in October as 400 family and friends gathered to celebrate Fallon’s best. The Hall of Fame is real and will continue to hold induction classes every fall.
“It gives me the goosebumps,” said inductee Randy Beeghly, who was also a two-time all-state selection on the AA football team. “This brings everything back to 1976 with all the memories. This Hall of Fame was needed and was so badly long overdue. The group that made this happen couldn’t have done it better.”
2. Lady Wave wins state basketball title
After coming up short in 2016, the Fallon girls basketball team won the school’s first sanctioned state title by defeating Lowry for the fourth time last season.
The Lady Wave never lost a league game (16-0) as it finished the season 26-3, including both the regional and state titles over Lowry. The team was built to win multiple and so far this season, Fallon is proving that it could be the team to beat again.
“For all the teams that missed it before, you kind of feel like you’re representing all of girls basketball,” Fallon coach Anne Smith said. “Under coach (Brad) Daum, coach Dalager — just everyone. It feels really good.”
3. Swisher, McCormick and Skabelund win state titles
While Fallon managed to win only one team state title last season, three indivduals won titles in wrestling and track and field.
Jack Swisher won his first state wrestling title after falling short the year before. Teammate Sean McCormick won his second state wrestling title and Whitney Skabelund won the state triple and long jump titles for the second year in a row. Skabelund also took third in the 300-meter hurdles and was named an NIAA Top-10 Student-Athlete recipient.
“Many talented student-athletes possess mental toughness and a strong work ethic, but Whit has these two characteristics in abundance, which makes her not only a great athlete, but also a great student,” Fallon volleyball coach Patty Daum said of Skabelund.
4. Kicks for Tim brings community together
A youth soccer coach who impacted many lives in Fallon was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer.
Five months since being diagnosed and treated, Tim Trease died in Oak Harbor, Wash., leaving behind his wife and three daughters. Enter in Loni Faught and Traci Lewis, who teamed up to organize Kicks for Tim, a soccer fundraiser in September that honored their friend.
The community stepped up in a big way with many donations and raffle items. The fundraiser drew in more than $9,300.
“He just loved the game. His tradition at the end of every season was to have the parents play the kids,” Faught said. “It was great because all season long, the parents are coaching the kids from the sideline to play harder and faster. They get out there with them and realize it’s not that easy.”
5. Oasis Academy welcomes new sports
The charter school, Oasis Academy, was known for lacrosse when it opened its doors several years ago. This year, though, the Bighorns have introduced new sports to the school.
Oasis Academy competed in volleyball and cross country in the fall and has both boys and girls basketball programs competing now. The girls team is fun to watch and is proving it can be a tough program once the Bighorns are allowed into the Class 1A. In the spring, along with lacrosse, Oasis Academy will compete in softball.
“These kids are great,” Oasis Academy boys basketball coach Donald Schank said. “They’re a good bunch of kids; they work hard, they’re eager to learn. When you’re willing to get up at 6 in the morning and come practice till 8, that’s dedication.”
Thomas Ranson can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.