61st Annual KPAX Sports Awards Banquet set for May 15th

Posted at 9:03 PM, Apr 30, 2019
and last updated 2019-05-01 11:51:52-04

MISSOULA — The stage is set for the 61st Annual KPAX Sports Awards Banquet. Some of the best volunteers, coaches and student-athletes in Missoula will be honored on Wednesday, May 15 at the Hilton Garden Inn in Missoula.

Current Central Michigan football head coach Jim McElwain will come back to his hometown as this year’s guest speaker. The former Missoula Sentinel and Eastern Washington quarterback has climbed the ranks through nearly 30 years as a coach in college football, serving as a head coach at Florida and Colorado State. He also made stops as an assistant at Alabama, Michigan, Montana State and with the Oakland Raiders.

Jim O’Day will receive this year’s Ray Rocene Award, the top honor of the evening that dates back to 1957. The Rocene Award goes annually to a person who has symbolized the spirit of sportsmanship through volunteer efforts. O’Day, the former University of Montana athletic director, receives the award for his work organizing and promoting Special Olympics events, including the Summer Games in Missoula.

The Ed Chinske Award given to a professional in the community goes to Dan Nile. The longtime Missoula Big Sky track and field head coach and assistant football coach continues to lead Eagle teams through the spring and fall.

Nancy Deden will be given the Campbell-Buzzetti Award. She was instrumental in Title IX implementation in Montana throughout the 1970s and 1980s, providing more athletic opportunities for women and girls in the state. The Campbell-Buzzetti Award goes to a person who has given freely of time and effort in support of Missoula sports.

The Banquet also celebrates some of the top high school seniors in Missoula with the Robert Curry male student-athlete of the year and the Erwin Byrnes female student-athlete of the year. Nominees for the boys award this year are Big Sky’s Wyatt Shinn, Missoula Loyola’s Cooper Waters, Hellgate’s Matt Baldridge, Sentinel’s Rylan Ortt and Valley Christian’s Benjamin Tuinstra. Nominees for the girls honor are Big Sky’s Madison Edwards, Loyola’s Emma Daniel, Hellgate’s Kylie Lunday and Sentinel’s Ashley McElmurry.

The KPAX Sports Awards Banquet starts with a social hour at 5:30 p.m. Dinner is served at 6:30. University of Montana president Seth Bodnar joins the program as emcee. Tickets cost $35 and can be purchased at KPAX-TV. If you have questions or would like more information, send an email to