Shellhorn among finalists for Alaska Sports Hall of Fame award

From left, Jerry Bendzak and Dick Shellhorn have refereed Cordova Basketball together for 49 years. Photo courtesy of Dick Shellhorn

Basketball referee and Cordova Times columnist Dick Shellhorn was among three finalists for the Alaska Sports Hall of Fame’s Joe Floyd Award.

Shellhorn, along with Kodiak former softball coach Richard Knowles and Fairbanks International Karate Association affiliate leader Dr. Charles Scott, was chosen as a finalist for the award by the Alaska Sports Hall of Fame Board of Directors. The Joe Floyd Award is used to recognize individuals or groups of individuals who have, over a period of years, made a significant and lasting contribution to sports in Alaska. Recipients are chosen for their leadership, sportsmanship and integrity, according to an Alaska Sports Hall of Fame release. At the hall of fame’s annual awards ceremony May 5, Knowles was selected as recipient for the award.

A Cordova Jr./Sr. High School alumnus who has refereed basketball games alongside P.E. teacher Jerry Bendzak since 1972, Shellhorn is known for his sports expertise and for the homespun wit of his recurring newspaper column, “Cordova Chronicles.” Shellhorn said he was surprised and flattered to have been chosen as a Joe Floyd Award finalist. Shellhorn was unaware he had been nominated until he was contacted by The Cordova Times, he said.

“You don’t referee basketball in Alaska for awards!” Shellhorn chuckled. “It’s an honor to get ‘em, but the main reason Jerry Bendzak and I have been refereeing all these years is, we really love basketball and we want to support Cordova basketball any way we can.”

Shellhorn began broadcasting Cordova Wolverines basketball games on the KLAM radio station in 1972, traveling across Alaska and to Idaho. In 2018, Shellhorn published “Balls and Stripes,” a memoir of playing, coaching, refereeing and broadcasting basketball in Alaska. Shellhorn said his proudest achievement in the field was the Cordova Tip-Off Tournament, an event established in 1982 under the auspices of the Cordova Elks Youth Activities Program, of which Shellhorn was then chairman. After the Cordova Elks Lodge closed, the school took over the tournament.

May 1, Shellhorn was awarded first place in the category of Best Humor by the Alaska Press Club for one of his Cordova Chronicles columns.