By SALLY McCARTHY
Arthur Lovington Atwood Hammond High School held their annual Fall Athletic Awards Night on Nov. 10 in the gym at the school.
Athletic Director Nathan Seal opened the evening with these remarks. “Good evening and welcome to the 2023 fall awards night. Tonight is an important moment for our student-athletes and I hope all of us that are in attendance tonight are here. Several years ago when I was coaching I heard a speaker that spoke words that I will never forget.
The first thing that he said in his speech was “Be where you are.” This speaker went on to talk about how important it is as a coach to be in the moment and focused as well as getting your players to block everything else out and focus on what is right in front of them at that moment. I used those words for many years with my teams. I would talk to my student-athletes about being focused at practice. For two hours a day I would challenge them to block out all of the daily distractions that surrounded them. This of course is easier said than done with the constant distractions that surround us in our lives. When you really break it down, being where you are is all about focus and effort. Although I am very proud of every team and individual victory, and every individual and team accomplishment that we earned this season amongst all of our sports, I am most proud of the effort and work that each one of our coaches and athletes put in during their respective seasons. I am proud of the support that our teams provide each other. I am proud of how our athletes played with maximum effort but stayed within the legal limits of the game. I am confident when I say this about our athletes and coaches as a general statement across the board: We out work our opponents. We won games, we lost games, we won championships and had some disappointments. But the one thing we always had control of is how hard we worked. No matter what the outcome of our seasons might have been, everyone tonight should be proud of the effort, dedication, determination, and work ethic of our student athletes and coaches. I know that we all feel a great sense of Knight Pride in what we have accomplished so far this year. I’m excited to hear more about all of our well earned accomplishments this fall. My hope is tonight all of us can be where we are and just enjoy the moment. As we progress into our winter seasons, I leave you with the lyrics from a Hillary Weeks’ song: So be where you are while you’re here. Live every breathtaking, ordinary moment. Embrace here and now and let everything else disappear. Be where you are while you’re here.”
Before we recognize our student-athletes, I would like to offer some special thanks to several individuals Katherine Dams, Athletic Trainer, the high school faculty and Board of Education for their support of our athletic programs, Mrs. Schrock, Mrs. Creek, and Mrs. McGrath in the high school and district offices, Miller Transportation, the administrative team, all local media outlets including: The Arthur Graphic-Clarion, Record Herald News, News Progress, New-Gazette, Herald and Review, WCIA and WAND for their coverage of our programs, Athletic Booster Club and their continued generous support of our athletic programs, all of the individuals that work behind the scenes to help make our athletic contests successful: our scorebook keepers, clock operators, sideline crews, those that play music, and our announcers for all of our sports, custodial and maintenance staff for preparing the fields and the gym for our events, thanks again to our parents for supporting our student athletes and coaches throughout the season, thank you to all of the coaches for your energy, passion, and commitment to our student-athletes, thank you to all of the family members of our coaches and for allowing them to share their talents with our students. Last but certainly not least, thank you to our student-athletes for representing our school and community so well this season. Thank you for your hard work, sportsmanship, and support for each other. It was a pleasure to watch you compete this fall.
Mr. Seal then introduced golf coach Brad McGill to summarize the 2023 Knight Riders golf season. First, he thanked all the people that had helped and wanted to give a special thanks to the Yeakel family for their donation of over 100 dozen golf balls to the program. The golf balls had been collected by Delano Yeakel who passed away in March and given to the golf team by his wife Marty and son Jason.
For the boys’ team, there were 11 total of which 8 were from ALAH. They won their fifth consecutive Lincoln Prairie Conference championship by 18 strokes and were 15-3 on the season. Coach then gave out the boys’ Knight Award which goes to the golfer who is dedicated, determined, committed, a good teammate, with a great attitude and that was Kody Burdick.
The girls’ team was the inaugural team for them as they had 12 girls total with 10 being from ALAH. “Coaching them was a wonderful experience even though their skills were not the best their smiles never ended.” The girls’ Knight Award has the same criteria as the boys and Coach McGill was impressed with the winner’s dedication. And that recipient was Avery Alexander. Coach McGill introduced Cross Country Coach Matt Thomas to speak on the cross country season.
Coach Thomas stated that this was his first year as a cross country coach and his experienced girls, Ruby Burton and Kimberly Krutsinger “taught him more that he taught them.” There were two boys and six girls so the girls were able to score as a team. The girls’ goal was to put some words on their cross country banner in the gym which they did by winning the Lincoln Prairie Conference championship. For next year the boys would like to have enough runners to field a scoring team and the girls have big goals, repeating as conference champs and qualifying as a team for sectionals. Coach Thomas’ Knight Awards go to the individuals who practice hard and are good teammates and Owen Herring for the boys and Josie Carrillo for the girls fit those criteria.
Head Soccer Coach Christian Gomez came to the podium next to recap the 2023 season for soccer. He spoke about his team in terms of improving skills and how they outshot their opponents in all but four of their matches. He said, “it was amazing to watch them grow. They worked hard, cared, and pushed themselves.” The soccer Knight Award goes to the athlete that is committed, determined, has leadership skills, knowledge of the game, integrity, and great communication and that was Jesus Corona.
Cheerleader Coach Misty Appleby was up next and said, “I am so proud of my cheerleaders for their competitiveness and excitement to be the best they can be.” She also mentioned that they were, in her eyes, 10-0 in the Hello Cheer cheer offs! She gave thanks to the football team “who were amazing to watch and follow along on their success and they made the cheerleaders proud to be Knights.” Her Knight Award goes to a leader, a solid person, someone to count on, and serves their school and communities and that person was Kendall Burdick.
Head Volleyball Coach Emily Crossman came up next to discuss the 2023 season. She commented that the freshmen were “exciting to see their growth and progress”, the JV team which finished 16-4 and 10-1 in conference “will continue to blossom and challenge the varsity”, and the varsity team was “a whole new team that had to step up into big roles and become leaders.” “They showed heart and grit and she was proud of their hard work and never give up attitude.” Her Knight Award criteria are a hard worker, puts the team above self, wants the best for her teammates, responsible, dependable, leads by example, is a selfless leader and is coachable and that athlete was Alayna Plank.
The last of the coaches to speak was Head Football Coach Ryan Jefferson. He stated that this team had big goals and despite hearing the naysayers wondering what they would do without Kaden Feagin, he was “confident they would meet those goals. Every week it seemed there were players out and other challenges, but the team kept moving forward.” He then gave some of their accomplishments-being undefeated in the regular season, Lincoln Prairie Conference champions, winning the Route 133 Showdown trophy, beating Cumberland, and getting a number one seed in the playoffs. And even if they didn’t advance, “they competed against Quincy Notre Dame and left it all out there on the field.” He is excited to see how the players respond next year when 39 of this year’s 49 players will be back. The football Knight Award is based on the team’s motto, Faith, Heart, and Class. The recipient takes pride and care of the little things, takes the little things seriously, and by doing that big things will come his way. The winner of the football Knight Award was Nick Rafferty.
Mr. Seal then announced the All Conference award winners and the respective coaches handed out their certificates.
Receiving LPC All Conference recognition in golf were Kendall Schrock and CC Davis.
Receiving LPC All Conference recognition in cross country were Ruby Burton, Kimberly Krutsinger and Embrey Reardon.
Receiving 1st team LPC All Conference in volleyball was Summer Melton and receiving Honorable Mention was Karaline Vanausdoll.
Receiving 1st Team LPC All-Conference Recognition in football at – Linebacker – Maddix Stirrett; Defensive Lineman-Nathan Tighe; Offensive Lineman-Jacob Tighe (unanimous) and Place Kicker – Kaden Herschberger.
Receiving 2nd Team LPC All-Conference Recognition in football at Defensive Lineman- Jeffrey Arwine, Offensive Lineman – Mackenley Bowles and Brody Louden (unanimous), Wide Receiver and Defensive Back – Connor Nettles, Running Back, Landon Waldrop, and Quarterback – Jayce Parsons.
Receiving Honorable Mention LPC All-Conference at Linebacker – Easton Frederick, Defensive Line-Jacob Tighe, and at Punter – Landon Waldrop.
Congratulations to all of our all-conference selections.
The individual sports then went to separate locations to hand out their individual awards.