By Jason Cruz
Northwest Asian Weekly
This was a year of optimism for Seattle sports. Don Wakamatsu led the Mariners to a winning record after the team lost 101 games the year before. Ichiro Suzuki continued his tremendous play, earning a ninth straight gold glove for his performance in left field. The University of Washington football team won five games under first-year head coach Steve Sarkisian after the team went winless in the previous year. The University of Washington men’s basketball team won the Pac-10 Championship, and the Seattle University men’s team moved up to Division I. In its inaugural season, the Sounders FC reached the Major League Soccer playoffs.
1. Jeremy Lin — basketball
Harvard’s Jeremy Lin averages 19 points per game. The Taiwanese American’s most notable game this season came against the nationally ranked University of Connecticut Huskies. Lin, a 6’3” senior guard, scored 30 points against the Huskies at UConn’s home arena. In his next game, Lin scored 25 points in a win over Boston College. “The fact that he’s an Asian American guard playing at Harvard has probably kept him off the NBA radar too long. But as scouts are hunting everywhere for point guards, more and more are coming back and acknowledging that Lin is a legit prospect,” said ESPN NBA Draft analyst Chad Ford.
2. Tamari Miyashiro — women’s volleyball
University of Washington volleyball player Tamari Miyashiro earned Second Team All-America Honors this year as she helped the women’s team make the NCAA tournament. The senior libero (a defensive skill position) from Hawaii was named to the American Volleyball Coaches Association’s All-America Team three times during her career as a Husky. She was named the National Defensive Player and made the all Pac-10 team during her sophomore and junior years. She also made the all Pac-10 freshman team during her first year playing at the University of Washington.
3. Ben Henderson — mixed martial arts
Mixed martial artist Ben Henderson became the interim World Extreme Championship (WEC) Light Heavyweight Champion in 2009. The Federal Way native won the vacant Light Heavyweight title in a five-round battle that many MMA fans have called the fight of the year. Henderson, who is Korean American, has trained with Ultimate Fight Championship (UFC) Light Heavyweight Champion BJ Penn in helping Penn train for his recent victory in December as well as preparing himself for his upcoming fight on Jan. 10.
4. Tim Lincecum — baseball
Lincecum won the Cy Young Award for the second year in a row as the National League’s best pitcher. Lincecum led the National League with 261 strikeouts and kept the San Francisco Giants in contention for the playoffs during the 2009 season. Lincecum’s grandfather is Filipino.
5. Eri Yoshida — baseball
Eri Yoshida is a 17-year-old female Japanese professional baseball player who will be playing in a professional baseball league in Arizona this January in hopes of making it onto a minor league baseball team. The 5’1” pitcher is known for her knuckleball.
6. David Nguyen — football
A senior running back from Bellevue High School, David Nguyen has been a vital part of the Wolverine football team in its past two state titles. Nguyen scored two touchdowns in Bellevue’s victory in this year’s state title game. According to several recruiting websites, Nguyen is being recruited to play football at Montana, Montana State, Boise State, Idaho, and San Diego. His brother, Peter, plays for Montana.
7. Manny Pacquiao — boxing
The Philippines’ most famous athlete fought twice this year. Manny Pacquiao started this year with a dramatic second-round knockout of Ricky Hatton in May. He ended 2009 by defeating Miguel Cotto in November with a 12-round technical knockout. He is the first boxer to win seven world titles in seven different weight classes. He was also on the cover of the Asian version of Time Magazine. It is anticipated that he will fight Floyd Mayweather Jr. in March 2010. It is considered to be one of the biggest fights in boxing history.
8. Tiger Woods — golf
Woods has not been seen by the public since the Thanksgiving night incident at his residence causing an overflow of press regarding alleged extramarital affairs. On the golf course, Woods has won 12 major golf championships this decade, earning him the title, “Athlete of the Decade” by the Associated Press. In 2009, Woods returned to the Professional Golfer’s Association (PGA) tour from knee surgery to win six tournaments and earn more than $10.5 million. He also won the 2009 Fed Ex Cup. Woods announced an indefinite leave from golf in December due to his personal issues. ♦
Jason Cruz can be reached at email@example.com.
*Updated Jan. 21 to correct information