Best of Utah 2010: Media & Politics | Best of Utah | Salt Lake City
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Best of Utah

Best of Utah 2010: Media & Politics



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Best Sports Fan
“Wild Bill” Sproat

The Spectrum arena in Logan has always been a daunting place for opposing teams. This year, however, “Wild Bill” Sproat has raised fandom to a new level. He’s a “redshirt junior” student with a striking resemblance to John Belushi who has difficulty keeping his robust belly contained. To distract opposing teams during free throws—he has a front-row seat directly behind their basket in the second half—he has donned costumes ranging from Peter Pan to the Little Mermaid. Forget scientific research; Wild Bill really makes USU alums proud. During the recent WAC championship, his absence at one game may have hurt the team’s chances for an automatic bid into the Big Dance. He was busy shooting a commercial for ESPN at the time.

Best Two-Legged Race
Lorie Hutchinson

In the fall of 2009, ultra-marathoner Lorie Hutchinson ran the length of Utah in 18 days, essentially running a marathon each day. Hutchinson ran her one-woman race because she has something many people take for granted: two good legs. She wasn’t running for bi-pedal people, but for those missing a limb or, in some cases, limbs. During her run, she raised money and awareness for the Challenged Athletes Foundation, which helps people with disabilities pursue an active lifestyle.

Best Mixed Health Message
“Men’s Health Night”
It’s a worthwhile goal: Get men to pay better attention to their health needs, and do so by hitting them where they occasionally live—the world of sports. But there was something odd about the radio commercials promoting a June “Men’s Health Night” event in conjunction with a Salt Lake Bees baseball game. The seventh-inning stretch would include a program with a variety of health-improving options, went the pitch. And if that weren’t reason enough to come, it was also “$1 hot dog night”—because nothing says “men’s health” like being able to down a six-pack of franks for less than $10.

Best Salt Lake Bees Player
Trevor Bell
The right-handed pitcher’s stopover here was relatively brief (just 11 starts in 2009), and his numbers were solid but not eye-popping (3-4 record, 3.15 ERA, 1.15 WHIP). But Bees fans clearly saw the same something as the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim did when they took Bell in the first round of the 2005 draft and called him up to the majors last August. Or, maybe they’re responding to the charisma that had Bell working as a child actor before his pro-baseball career. Whatever the reason, his big-league performance was effective enough that he may not have a chance to repeat this win next year.
2. Bradley Coon
3. Francisco Rodriguez

Best Real Salt Lake Player
Kyle Beckerman
With his trademark dreadlocks and his passionate advocacy for his team, Beckerman has evolved as a true star in Real Salt Lake’s firmament. That’s partly because of the quality of his soccer, but it also reflects the unassailable determination he brings to drive his team forward. His style as a captain in 2009 evolved with the team, particularly during their final run to the MLS cup. At turns bold and demanding as he pushes his team forward, he overflows with affection for his teammates and, arguably, has become, along with coach Jason Kreis, the beating heart at the team’s center.
2. Nick Rimando
3. Robbie Findley

Best Research on Women & War
Valerie Hudson

Political scientists have long been trying to understand why we all can’t just get along. And while recent research has drawn links between warlike nations and whether they are democratic or whether they are poor, Brigham Young University professor Valerie Hudson research has revealed another interesting indicator: how women are treated in a country. The project she’s led, WomanStats, has found a strong correlation between the stability of a nation and the status of its women. The security of a nation’s women is more predictive of its stability than whether or not it is Islamic, democratic or wealthy. Kudos to Hudson for showing how peace and equality between the sexes can tell us a lot about the peace of nations.

Best Sundance Locals Showcase
Locals Take Back!

The annual Sundance Film Festival is held for the benefit of the national and international film community, but that doesn’t mean Utah can’t get in on the action. (A)perture Marketing hosted, for the second time, a mid-Sundance event that included a fashion/hair/makeup artistic showcase created by locals as well as a dance performance and showcases of local filmmakers from the Art Institute of Salt Lake City and the Salt Lake Film Society. Turning the tables on exclusive events where it seemed everyone except locals was invited, Locals Take Back! was free to those with a Utah ID—and it gave away swag bags. The people in black go home, but these folks are sticking around.

Best Behind-the-Music Story
Royal Bliss

They started in Salt Lake City’s music scene as an alternative rock band and have held true to their guitar-and-drum sound. Along the way, however, they have had enough crashes to fill at least 30 minutes on VH1, most notably singer Neal Middleton’s fall from a balcony that almost killed him. After battling to simply walk again, Middleton and the rest of the band have become rising stars in rock music. In 2009, they released their first major-label album and have spent much of the past year headlining clubs and theaters. Even if they are not a band embraced by indie hipsters, they are a music success story that still calls Utah home.

Best Religious Icon
Virgin Mary Mural

In Utah, religious-themed public art tends to depict old white men who look like they might hand out Werther’s Originals to you along with their revelation—which is exactly why a nearly 50-foot-high mural of the Virgin Mary in downtown Salt Lake City is such a unexpected sight. Gracing the side of the Fice Gallery and Urban Boutique, the image of the Virgin Mary with hands held to her sacred heart has brought not only exquisite artistry to the city from the talented hands of graffiti artists El Mac and Retna but also has shown the beauty of iconography that runs somewhat counter to the dominant religion’s stuffy male patriarchy. 160 E. 200 South, Salt Lake City

Best Too-Cool-for-School Band
Crescent Super Band

Who are these talented, rhythmic high schoolers who travel the world and rub shoulders with jazz greats? In 2007, DownBeat Magazine named them the top performing arts high school big band in the nation, and we’re guilty of being a little late to the party on that. Founded in 2001 by Caleb Chapman, the 21-piece big-band orchestra is made up of students, ages 14 to 19, who have played jazz festivals in Montreux, Umbria and Telluride, as well as jazz clubs like Dizzy’s in New York City. They’ve accompanied Grammy winners like Randy Brecker, Nicholas Payton, Jeff Coffin and, recently, Eric Marienthal. These precocious kids have even released three albums. Too cool.

Best Alternative to “Independent” Film Fests
Salt Lake City Film Festival

They had a dream: That one day, Utah movie-lovers could come together and attend screenings without wearing a pair of Ugg boots or running into Screech outside a gift boutique. Matt Whittaker and Chris Bradshaw founded the Salt Lake City Film Festival as an alternative to even the alternatives to Sundance—an all-inclusive opportunity for aspiring filmmakers to gain exposure and access to commercial venues. The inaugural three-day series took place Aug. 14-16 at Tower Theatre, the Fort Douglas Post Theatre and the Salt Lake City Main Library to great success. They started accepting applications for 2010 in February.

Best Boxing Coach
Leo Montoya

Since 1953, Leo Montoya has trained hundreds of young boxers in the manly art of self defense. Octogenarian Montoya has operated a century-old iconic gym on 600 West, where such late great heroes as state Sen. Pete Suazo and Sgt. Rocky “The Rock” Herrera once trained. Montoya’s made it his mission to take local fighters to regional and national competitions, and he has the trophies to prove it. On a shoestring, he’s given his time and his gym to help young boxers learn the sweet science. Looking for a good cause to support? Consider Montoya’s Youth Training Association. For the win. 246 N. 600 West, Salt Lake City, 801-359-2583

Best Memorial
Park City 5

When five fresh graduates of Park City High School all died tragically over the course of a few short months in 2008, their mothers came together and decided to honor their children with a very special memorial. The surviving mothers—known as the Park City 5—have since established a full-fledged memorial fund currently building a school for needy students in Riobamba, Ecuador. The fund also created an ongoing scholarship for PCH students looking to volunteer at the school—keeping the spirit of service alive and turning tragedy into opportunity for those less fortunate.

Best Utahn
Sister Dottie S. Dixon

The unique creation of actor/writer Charles Lynn Frost and writer Troy Williams had already been a KRCL 90.9 FM radio favorite, but it took two successful theatrical runs for the one-(wo)man show The Passion of Sister Dottie S. Dixon to turn her into a phenomenon. Sister Dottie certainly won plenty of folks over with her satirical but good-natured goof on Mormon housewives from “Spanish Fark.” But as the “proud mother of a gay son,” she also provided a voice for many who choose love over dogma. You’re a representation of the humor and compassion that can be found in any of us, Sister D—and we sure do ’preciacha.
2. Jon Huntsman Jr.
3. Tim DeChristopher

Best Visual Arts Triple Threat
Jill Dawsey, Jeff Lambson & Adam Price

Fashion magazine W got wind of a curious convergence of curatorial skills and made note of it in a Dec. 15, 2009, editor’s blog titled “Utah’s Art Scene Gets Edgy.” The post noted how Brigham Young University brought Jeff Lambson, a veteran of the Hirshhorn Museum & Sculpture Garden in Washington, D.C., to Provo in November 2007 as the museum’s first contemporary art curator. Not to be outdone, the Utah Museum of Fine Arts hired Jill Dawsey, formerly of the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, in early 2008, as its first curator of modern and contemporary art. Then, the Salt Lake Art Center tapped attorney Adam Price, known for his innovative 337 Project efforts, to take the helm of the city’s celebrated contemporary art hub. No need to pinch yourself—you’re still in Utah. But if contemporary art is your thing, this is truly the place.;;

Best Local to Follow on Twitter
What Would Jesus Do in Salt Lake

It really would take a superhuman being to keep up with all of the cool activities promoted on the What Would Jesus Do in Salt Lake blog (, from whence the @WWJDinSLC Twitter feed sprang. The stated goal is to dispel the myth that the capital city is overrun with “families and churches” and “to help make Salt Lake more cool.” WWJDinSLC’s comprehensive lists of nightlife happenings and to-the-point restaurant reviews (the Savior is also a frequent UrbanSpoon contributor) are impressive and—wait for it—divinely inspired.
2. Ben_Winslow
3. Dooce