Faith Academy athletes celebrated

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With seasons’ ends so too comes a time of reflection and recognition and athletes who competed in Faith Academy blue and white in the spring seasons were honored for their performances at the Faith Academy Awards night in the Beth Keaton Gymnasium last Monday night.

The night also honored the academic achievements of all students and you can read more about those awards in this week’s B section.

After the students accepted honors for their work in the classroom, the focus shifted to their efforts on the track, court and diamond and each coach came to the podium to deliver a speech and dole out team awards.

First was the cheerleading team with sponsor Jamie Odom on the mic to honor the most improved cheerleader as Madelyn Krueger, the newcomer of the year as Jayci Byler and the Heart of the Knight as Maddie Odom.

After that, track head coach Ann Howarth took over with plenty to talk about. Three Knights and two relay teams punched a ticket to the state meet with plenty more regional qualifiers and even more all-district honorees.

Senior Brianna Gallaher claimed her sixth and seventh TAPPS State Championships in the 1600- and 3200-meter runs. Paired with her four cross country championships, she ended her career with 11 total state titles, the most accomplished team superlative and an All-State nomination.

Classmate Cameron Crawford set a personal record in the discus event on his final attempt to jump up and take fifth overall. Freshman Maddie Odom ran in both the 100- and 300-meter hurdles, earning sixth in both in her debut season.

Roy Shepherd, Miguel Guerrero, Taylor Hetzel and Pierce Newcomb raced to a personal record in the 4x100-meter relay and earned an eighth-place finish. They also were set to compete in the 4x200-meter relay as well but were disqualified.

Guerrero, another graduating senior, made his way behind the microphone and delivered a heartfelt token of appreciation toward his coaches from his classmates.

“For me and Brianna, I wanted to give a huge thank you to coach Howie and coach Williams for putting up with me and Brianna, making sure we made our times, keeping us well taken care of and I want to thank y’all especially for getting me closer to God,” he said. “Y’all always kept me going when I needed help.”

Guerrero was awarded the Heart of the Knight award on his way out and Crawford was named most determined in his final year of track. Most admirable was Taylor Hetzel and most diligent was Pierce Newcomb.

Earning academic All-State honors for an average above 90 was Pierce Newcomb, Roy Shepherd and Cameron Crawford.

It was the elder Crawford that took the podium after that, head basketball coach James Crawford to be exact. He started his speech with thank yous, most importantly to a few who you might not see on the roster.

“Of all these up here, there are three we could not have gotten through the season without,” he said. “Lacy Phillips for keeping score chart, Addie Kuespert helped with the game chart and practiced with the boys and out-rebounded them. And not here is Josey Potter.”

He also included his wife, Susan, in the rounds and also included a story about a tournament in Weimar.

“For some reason, the referee gave me a tech and then Susan said something and he turned around and teched her too,” he recounted. “She had to go sit in the stands on the other side of the court, now she’s supposed to tell me when a player gets two fouls, three fouls so we’re hand signaling across the court No. 45, two fouls.”

He finished that he eventually made it through that game but needed the help of his team this year more than ever to get him through the tumultuous year his family has endured.

“The majority of my life has been spent in school, as a student as a teacher, and almost every day of my life I’ve been involved in a sport, playing, coaching, watching, I love teaching I love coaching,” he said. “But I never needed the students that I teach and the kids that I coach more than this year. These guys and these girls have helped me get up and go on during the most difficult time of my life and I want to say thank you,” he closed.

Coach Crawford made his way to the team awards and started with the offensive award which went to the player who finished with the highest shooting percentage and the second-highest free throw shooting percentage; Roy Shepherd.

Miguel Guerrero was honored with the defensive award, Nathan Figueroa was named most improved, Nathan Taake won the Heart of the Knight and Cameron Crawford, who led the team in scoring, rebounding, free throws made and game efficiency (according to statistician Lacy Phillips), was named MVP.

Pierce Newcomb and Kaleb Shepherd were named to the all-district second team and Crawford cracked the first team while Newcomb and Crawford made academic all-state.

Crawford, the younger one, then made his way to the podium and wanted to share a thank you of his own to his father.

“There was no one that I would have wanted to rather be coached by than my dad, he’s the best coach I’ve ever had and the best dad I could ever ask for and I love him so much and I love you guys so much,” he said referencing his teammates.

An ovation led the basketball squad off the stage and the softball team to take their place with head coach Kenneth Woodley taking his place behind the microphone.

He mentioned how the only two teams they lost to all year were set to play each other in the state semifinal and that speaks to how difficult the district was this year and that the success they did end with did not come easy.

But he moved on to a more serious note and mentioned at the end of the movie, the wins and losses aren’t really going to make a difference in your life.

“When all is said and done, the games you win or lose will not count for anything,” Woodley mentioned. “What really matters is that we did our best to become better people and that we were able to get closer to God.”

He honored Gabby Yates and Tyler Johnston as most improved and gave the Heart of the Knight award to Lacy Phillips. Defensive MVP was Marissa Przyborski, offensive MVP was Regan Woodley and the overall MVP was Reagan Majewski.

On top of that, as mentioned, the district was not easy and 10 Lady Knights on all-district teams was nothing to scoff at.

Majewski, Woodley and Przyborski earned first-team honors, Phillips, Johnston, Yates, Abigail Richards and Isabella Schoenborn made the second team and Emily Maddox and Maggie Harkey were honorable mentions.

In addition, Yates, Schoenborn, Phillips, Przyborski and Woodley all garnered academic all-state honors.

Before the team exited stage-left, Coach Woodley left the crowd with one more token of appreciation.

“Once you see that we’re not just coaches, we’re trying to groom these young ladies and men into fine males and females in preparing for adulthood,” he said. “And I think we’ve all done a great job, it’s just an honor to come up here and you trusting us with your children. Thank you for that, thank you ladies for everything you do as well,” he finished, referencing his squad.

Last, but certainly not least, was tennis, head coached by Josh McLain who awarded David McClure the Heart of the Knight. Genesis Mignery was named MVP for her near-state-qualifying performance and will surely be back for more next year.

To wrap up, there were a pair of scholarships doled out to graduating seniors for their efforts over the last four years. Brianna Gallaher took home the Coach Sabrsula Athletic Scholarship Award and Lacy Phillips earned the J.D. Sabrsula Scholarship.

Although Phillips will be leaving Faith Academy to fill in her undetermined future, her mother Pam, who welcomes everyone to the school behind the front desk, mentioned she will not be leaving in her impromptu acceptance speech for the Reesa Ueckert Parent Award.

The honor is reserved for those who “go above and beyond wherever and whenever needed,” and Phillips most certainly accomplished that. “She has put in extra time, energy and creativity for seven years towards the FA Night of Knights fundraiser, served as Booster Club President, been a parent worker, transported team members to various sport games, and is now the main receptionist at FA, always identifying, directing and protecting the students and parents. She has never shied away from any task and always has a positive attitude,” the school noted.

And so closed the final Faith Academy Awards night for the Class of 2019 with their final check mark coming days later at Sunday’s graduation with the rest of their lives in front of them.

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