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Friez, others inducted into local Hall of Fame

John Friesz, a graduate of Coeur d'Alene High School, played at the University of Idaho before launching a successful career in the NFL (Photo: SWX) John Friesz, a graduate of Coeur d'Alene High School, played at the University of Idaho before launching a successful career in the NFL (Photo: SWX)

Others also honored for contributions to local sports

The man who was the face of Idaho Vandal football in the late 1980s came back to the Inland Northwest Tuesday to be honored yet again.  John Friez, a graduate of Coeur d'Alene High School and former NFL starting quarterback, was inducted into the Inland Northwest Sports Hall of Fame, along with several other high-profile sports heroes from the area.

Friez was honored at Tuesday's event, as was high school basketball coach Roy Graffis, Spokane businessman Jon Heimbigner and Irene Matlock, who coached women's college and girls' high school volleyball in Eastern Washington and North Idaho.

"I really hope it's a great day for all my former teammates and coaches as well," said Friez at the event.  "I think that's the message I want to get across.  My recognition today is really a recognition for their job really well done in the past as well."

Friesz graduated from Coeur d'Alene High School in 1985 and had a highly successful collegiate football career at the University of Idaho.  Recruited by Dennis Erickson, he played at Idaho under first-year head coach Keith Gilbertson and then John L. Smith.

Starting for the Vandals as a sophomore, he threw 28 touchdown passes and was named Big Sky Player of the Year.  In his junior season he helped the Vandals to a 9-1 regular season and took Idaho to the Division I-AA semi-finals.  As a senior under first-year coach John L. Smith, Friesz threw 31 touchdowns, led the Vandals to an undefeated season and won the Walter Payton Award - the award given to the most outstanding player in Division I-AA.

Drafted by the San Diego Chargers in 1990, Friesz was the 10th quarterback taken overall, and became the team's starter in just his second season as a professional.  He suffered a season-ending injury during a preseason game in 1992.  As a professional, he threw for more than 8,600 yards and 45 touchdowns and was named to three other Halls of Fame, including the College Football Hall of Fame in South Bend, Ind.

Other inductees honored Tuesday included Jon Heimbigner, a Spokane businessman who has served as the chairman of the Inland Northwest Sports Hall of Fame for 27 years.  He worked on the State B Basketball Tournament steering committee for 30 years and helped bring various NCAA tournament events to the Spokane area. 

Irene Matlock was honored for her highly successful career as a high school, college and club volleyball coach.  She started her career at Community Colleges of Spokane in 1986 and retired in 2004 with a 715-246 record.  Her teams made 19 postseason appearances and four conference championships.  She also coached at Sandpoint High where her record was 101-7, including four consecutive state championships.  She came out of retirement in 2007 to be the interim volleyball coach at Eastern Washington University.  Her team that year finished third in the Big Sky with a 12-4 conference record.

Roy Graffis was honored for becoming the first Washington high school coach to win boys football and girls state basketball titles.  He coached the Columbia Lions' girls' basketball team to a state title in 1986 while also serving as the school superintendent.  He added two State B 11-man football titles at Hunters in 1987 and 1988.  He helped create youth baseball programs in Whitman County, and taught and coached at Oakville, Sprague and Odessa during a career that spanned nearly four decades. In 2008-09, he came out of retirement to coach the Columbia of Hunters girls' basketball team to a 20-6 record and seventh place finish at State B.

Dale Goodwin, a local volleyball official for 29 years, was added to the Commission's Scroll of Honor, along with Marcia Saneholtz, who worked with Washington State University in various capacities from 1979 to 2007.  Saneholtz spearheaded WSU's push to host NCAA volleyball and men's and women's basketball tournaments in Spokane.  She also helped guide the school through unifying the school's separate men's and women's athletic departments.

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