With the start of the Anacortes High School basketball season, I was reminded of one of my favorite projects as a community newspaper special projects editor: A 16-page tabloid publication dedicated to the 75th Anniversary of Seahawk basketball!
One of my favorite assignments with this 1983 Skagit Argus project was an interview with renowned high school basketball coach Richard “Boots” Wooten. Excerpts of that interview follow:
“In 1943, Anacortes High School football coach “Boots” Wooten became a basketball coach, launching a legendary Seahawks era that found the Fidalgo Island team winning a place at the state tournament three out of four consecutive years.
“Before his four-year stint as Seahawks head coach ended, Wooten had amassed 99 wins to only 20 losses. Wooten teams won four Skagit County championships, one district championship, and placed in three state tournaments.
“Although Wooten moved on to Walla Walla in 1948 to take the reins as coach there, he ultimately relocated to his hometown after he retired from teaching in 1976.
“In a den decorated with sports memorabilia and awards, Wooten leafed through scrapbooks and responded with impressive memory to questions about the ‘Boots Boys’ of the late Forties. In 1946-47, his final year in Anacortes, the AHS Seahawks chalked up 29 consecutive wins before losing a state championship game.
“Asked to pick an all-star team from his Anacortes coaching days, Wooten named John Jurkovich, Gene Lundgaard, Duane Berentson, Kent Ent, Bob Olson and Rae Polley.
“Wooten expressed pride in his development of the ‘check zone,’ which he described as a ‘man-for-man zone’ where each player is responsible for both a zone and a particular player. Although he couldn’t run a fast break offense because of the small size of the Anacortes gym, Wooten was one of the first high school coaches to make that move in subsequent years.
“On inquiry as to rivalries during his Anacortes coaching years, Wooten’s response was classic Boots: “There weren’t any rivalries. Anacortes was it – and the rest of them had to beat us.”
A fourth generation Skagit County native who was moved kicking and screaming from this island community in 1960. I finally reclaimed an Anacortes address in 1980, and I have been in constant celebration of my return since that time. Many of us who call Anacortes home love Fidalgo Island for its natural assets: among them are rugged beaches, pristine lakes, thousands of acres of forestland and some awesome views of the Skagit Valley and surrounding islands. Another element of my love affair with this community is its people, both natives and immigrants. They will “star” in many of my journal entries.
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