MISSOULA – We host another KPAX Sports Awards Banquet Tuesday night. The event honoring the best in Missoula turns 60 years old, and many of those involved want to see it last much longer.
“My dad was involved a little bit in it,” said Bill Schwanke. “In fact, he was the third speaker at the banquet in probably about 1959 or 1960.”
Schwanke has served a big role at the KPAX Sports Awards Banquet for many of its 60 years. The former radio voice of the Montana Grizzlies has seen it change names and venues several times.
The original banquet started as a way to honor high school and Griz letter-winners, then changed into a men’s-only event to honor adults before morphing into the current version. Now the banquet is welcome to all and gives awards to high school seniors and adults with very different contributions to an array of sports.
“Missoula is a great volunteer community,” said Schwanke. “Some of these awards are tied to that, most of them actually. So I think it fits perfectly in Missoula.”
“Being on the committee, or the Honor’s Court, you start hearing about people you didn’t even know existed that do so much for people and for kids in this community,” said Robin Selvig. “It’s a really humbling thing to see.”
The evening always includes a guest speaker with ties to Missoula as the headlining act. But whoever takes the podium has a hard time following Selvig. The former Lady Griz coach has started the banquet off with laughs for years.
“Years ago before high school kids were there you could use a little different jokes,” laughed Selvig. “So when you’re the emcee you’ve got to keep it pretty straightforward.”
Selvig and Schwanke are former winners of one of the awards. In fact, that’s how you get on the Honor’s Court. The group asks all winners to join, and by continually adding to the ranks, the Honor’s Court hopes to provide a special evening for at least another 60 years.
“To be able to keep it going this long I think is a real credit,” said Selvig.
“I hope they can keep it going for a long time, because it’s become a big deal in this town to win one of these awards,” said Schwanke.
If you would like to join us at the KPAX Sports Awards Banquet, you can pick up tickets at the KPAX station Tuesday during normal business hours, at 1049 West Central Avenue in Missoula.
Then the fun begins with a social hour at 5:30 p.m. at the Hilton Garden Inn. Dinner is served at 6 p.m., and Griz football coach Bobby Hauck takes the podium as guest speaker shortly after.
Meet this year’s nominees for student-athlete of the year: