Announcing honorees of scholarship competition

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Tonight marks the Section VI and All-WNY High School Awards dinner. As part of the event, we’ll be handing out some matching scholarships to Western New York’s best teammates.

Thanks to Sahlen’s Sports Park we were able to add to the quality of the first prize award, while contributions from KenTon Soccer Club, Orchard Park Soccer Club and Pallet Services Inc. allowed us to add a second prize.

We’ll be honoring a pair of boys teammates and a pair of girls teammates, but we also wanted to share a pair of honorable mention essays. We simply had more than enough strong submissions to share.

Here are some selections from the four essays we’re highlighting for the competition.

Honorable mention: Grand Island’s Justin Figler nominating Ben Shaw

“I’ve played with Ben for almost my entire soccer career, and it is easy to say that he has done a phenomenal job being a teammate throughout his career. However, I believe Ben has gone above and beyond just being a good teammate. Ben has shown an uncommon ability to maintain his composure and discipline in stressful game situations, be a strong leader on and off the field, set a high standard for the work needed to be put in at training, and has also been the most dependable, hard-working, and passionate players that I have ever had the opportunity to play with.

Ben has proven himself to me and the team especially this year during our last season of high school soccer. He was our starting center back who controlled and managed our back line like no other center back I’ve ever played with before has ever done. His communication was meaningful and decisive, always keeping our back line connected throughout the entire game. With all these attributes combined with Ben’s passion and love for the game and commitment to the team, he became a formidable force in the back that could not be stopped, and was one of the reasons why our team was as successful as it was this season. Ben has earned his spot and made his name well-known through his hard-work and dedication to not only to improving himself, but the team as well and has proven that he is the best teammate that myself, Coach Butcher, and all of WNY high school soccer could have ever asked for.”

Honorable mention: Sweet Home’s Matt Meloon nominating Josh Hammer

“Here at Sweet Home we keep traditions running through the soccer program. Traditions of hard work, and fighting created years ago have trickled down to us today. Previous players have taught Josh these traits, and now Josh has worked to keep the tradition going. Josh actively works to instill those traditions on the players that will follow him, allowing the traditions in the Sweet Home Soccer program to continue. This is what sets Sweet Home apart from the rest of the schools, and makes Josh one of the most influential people in keeping us different.Josh has always tries to keep himself as a role model for the rest of us. His work ethic, skill and mental strength, are all excellent examples on how a player should conduct himself on the field. From watching him, I know that myself, as well as my fellow players have learned from Josh’s abilities, and now it’s our turn to keep the traditions running. Through his time here, he has kept this program among the greatest. As we say goodbye to one of the greatest Sweet Home Soccer players ever to come through the program, we know that Josh will always be a part of Sweet Home.”
Second prize: Frontier’s Maia Kozak nominating Grace Page
In sports, there are quite a few measurements that can assess a worth of a player to a certain team.  There are goals, assists, or a plethora of analytical formulas that can measure almost any minute detail of any area of a given sport. No matter how developed these measurements may become, I doubt that scientists will ever be able to invent a device that can measure the capacity of an athlete’s heart.If one day such an innovation ever became available, I doubt it would every have the capability of  calculating the size of the heart and fortitude of my longtime teammate on the Frontier soccer pitch,  Grace Page. What makes Grace’s tenacity so striking is that it comes within the package of one of the most diminutive players on the field….

Grace’s physical play takes a toll on opponents but has also taken quite a bit out of Grace. It was not uncommon to see Grace limping around the hallways with many different injuries over the years, but in private it was Grace’s commitment to physical therapy, personal workouts, and going the extra mile when no one was looking, or there was no crowd to cheer her on during those early mornings and late nights of workouts and training that allowed her to be the force she has been for our team. There were many, many times over the years when on a cold, dark winter morning that I would look at my alarm clock before 5 AM. I would snuggle safely under the blankets, close my eyes and think, ‘Grace Page has already been working out or at the rink for an hour.'”

First prize: Olean’s Geoffrey Broadbent nominating Andrew Nasuta
“What makes Andrew the best teammate is his ability to become an extension of a greater unit. On the field, he is so much more than just a member of the team. Andrew makes everyone around him better through his unselfish play. Andrew lost most of the fingers on his right hand shortly after he was born; however, this has not held Andrew back in anyway. He has adapted, like all great athletes do.Both Andrew and I play on the left side: he plays defense, and I play midfield. We often end up switching positions on the field out of necessity so I can take throw-ins. Andrew has had to learn to play both of our positions. I believe this ability can be accredited to his aptitude for doing whatever he can to make the team better. His goal tally will never be high, but his ability to move up and down the field harmoniously with the team no matter what position he is in has brought praise from countless opposing coaches.
This attribute is what makes Andrew a great teammate. He possesses what seems to be a rare gift these days; Andrew gives up his individual desires to become part of the team.

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