Each November, several Graland athletes are recognized for their exceptional leadership, sportsmanship, and athleticism throughout the fall sports season. This year 14 student athletes were honored in front of their coaches, teammates, and peers at the Middle School Eagle Award Ceremony to celebrate their accomplishments on and off the field.
Below, includes a list of excerpts from the coaches who had the pleasure of presenting the awards to the honorees. Congratulations to this year's Eagle Award recipients!
Grade 6 Cross Country Award (Presented by Coach Baldwin)
"I'm here today to recognize someone who may already stand out to you as an incredible athlete. And trust me, he was definitely that on our cross country team. He pushed himself to the limit in every race. So much so that one time he had too many Doritos before a race, ran his hardest, and then gave all the bystanders the chance to see those Doritos one more time at the finish line. But this individual offered the 'Speedy Boyz' more than just his speed. Yes, he was quick on his feet, but he was also quick to help and quick to lead. He consistently brought his best self and effort to practice each day and remained humble, kind, and respectful throughout the season. Zeke, congratulations on earning the Eagle Award. And congratulations to all the 'Speedy Boyz" on a great season!"
Grade 6 Soccer Award (Presented by Coach Collier)
"There are a million ways that an individual can add value to a team. Players can add value through vocal leadership, through quiet gestures of support, through their knowledge and strategic awareness of the game, through focus during practices, and through their performance on the field. This year we are fortunate to have one individual who demonstrated leadership in all of these ways and more. The recipient of this year's Eagle Award embodies the characteristics that you look for in a team player: respectful, good sportsmanship, dedication, positive attitude, disciplined, good skill development, commitment, effort, and inspiration. When he played, it was like having a second coach out on the field, quietly and efficiently going about the task at hand. Whenever he was on the field, it was obvious what a huge impact he had on the game. It is a great honor to present the Eagle Award for the 2021 sixth grade soccer team to Rory. Congratulations, Rory!"
Grade 6 Field Hockey Award (Presented by Coach Jones)
"Gabriella started the season with an injury; yet, she came to practice every day to learn and make sure she followed her team and kept up with everyone. It was a delight to see her in athletic clothes after a few weeks and hear her say, 'I can play'. Having a bump in the road and overcoming it is character. She's been part of the team from the onset displaying determination, strength, and spirit for her team. Now back on the field, she's playing as well as everyone. Great job, Gabriella. Well deserved!"
Team Graland Grade 6 Volleyball Award (Presented by Coach Murray)
"'Where did she come from?', 'Don't worry, I got it!', 'The Floor Mopper', 'Wow, she got to that ball!' are just some ways to describe this Eagle Award winner. This player would see it as an insult if the ball were to ever touch our side of the court. Sliding across the floor like a player stealing second, her grace and tenacity are unsurpassed. Whether it is stringing together critical serves, getting to a ball that others thought was unreachable, or just having a smile on her face as she slides across the floor attempting to get a touch on an errant pass, this young lady is remarkable. Her soft-spoken persona masks a ferocious competitor within who will do anything in her power to get to a ball or encourage her teammates to do their best. Seldom without a sparkle in her eye, her positive attitude and willingness to do the necessary work to improve is unmatched. She leads others by her example in drills, putting the same game-day effort into the most routine activities and drills. Intrinsically motivated, striving to improve her skills through relentless hard work, willingness to listen and use coach's suggestions, and diligent practice, this player has made great advances throughout the season. I am proud and excited to award the Eagle Award to Victoria."
Team Eagles Grade 6 Volleyball Award (Presented by Coach Murray)
"This young lady's positive attitude and giggle are infectious. Often one of the first to practice and often takes the lead on getting the practice courts ready, she orchestrates the equipment set up when needed and arrives early to practice to help get everything ready for practice. She leads by example, and others appreciate her willingness to take a supportive role or leadership role, whatever is needed. She comes to practice with a bounce in her step and enthusiasm that others are drawn to. She has grown in her abilities over the season, and others look to her for her leadership. With a powerful overhand serve and tenacious drive to get to every ball on the court, her presence on the court is essential. Whether it is encouraging others to do their best, giving examples of her drive and competitive spirit in drills, or just her willingness to have fun and play with her teammates, her positive attitude and inclusivity bring the team together. She is willing to work with a variety of teammates, and she makes any partnership better and more productive. Always up for a laugh, she keeps practice and games light, but when it is time to turn it on, she is driven to be her best and bring out the best of all on the court. It is with great honor to award the Eagle Award to Desi."
Grade 7 Tennis Award (Presented by Coach Keefe)
"It is an honor to speak on behalf of this year's Eagle Award recipient for seventh-grade tennis. This year's awardee was a pleasure to coach. She continually sought to improve her grasp of the game's strategy and techniques. Moreover, her tenacity and can-do spirit were always infectious. Being new to the game, our honoree never allowed any setback to linger, instead choosing to work through any difficulty. This mindset won over her coaches, her playing partner, and even some of her competition. This year's Eagle Award recipient attended all practices and matches and was a fun and supportive teammate. To this year's winner, thank you for bringing your trademark focus and bright smile to the tennis courts each day and reminding us all that seriousness and fun are essential components in competition. This year's Eagle Award in tennis goes to Mia. Congratulations, Mia!"
Team Eagles Grade 7 Volleyball Award (Presented by Coach Kockevar)
"Consistent, motivated, and positive are three words that describe this Eagle award recipient. The player receiving this award put in the hard work every practice, without complaint, and with the intent of bettering herself and her team. She understands the purpose of practice and uses it as an opportunity to hone her skills. This player has tremendous potential athletically, but her role as a quiet leader on the court is what sets her apart. Her leadership qualities include being an exemplar of hard work and persistence and maintaining a constant calm demeanor that steadied her teammates. It was a pleasure to have you as part of our team this year. Congratulations to Gina."
Team Graland Grade 7 Volleyball Award (Presented by Coach Kochevar)
"This year's Eagle award recipient is no doubt going to achieve a lot in her volleyball career. Her hard work and drive ensure that her skills will continue to develop. She has a passion for the sport and a deep understanding of strategy and concepts of play. However, beyond her abilities on the court, she sets an amazing example of sportsmanship, teamwork, and having a positive attitude. Cheering from the court or the bench, this player actively recognized others' efforts by lifting them up when points are lost and cheering them on when points are won. A true competitor at heart, Kendall understands the value of the team as a whole. It has been a pleasure to watch her succeed this season and to watch the impact she has had on others. Congratulations, Kendall."
Grade 8 Tennis Award (Presented by Coach Hill)
Ash, you're our Eagle Award winner because you put so many of these qualities together. Your effort, your sportsmanship - partners and opponents alike commented on how much they enjoyed being on the court with you. Your being the consummate teammate, your desire to improve followed by how you actually raised your game, your appreciation and respect, your demonstration of camaraderie and inspiration, your character. Thanks for everything you do and how you show up every day. You're very deserving of this 2021 Eagle Award for tennis."
Grade 8 Volleyball Award (Presented by Coach DeBoe)
"This year's Eagle Award recipient took her role, and improvement, on the team seriously. Spending countless extra time on gaining confidence in her overall game, and perfecting her serve, proved to be beneficial as Jojo ended up having one of the most consistent serves as she did not miss one serve in the final EIGHT matches of the season. Always a technically sound digger, forearm passer, and back row player, Jojo also served as a leader on the court by helping to direct court coverage and gently reminding teammates of their positioning. Although not the tallest player on the team, she worked on her attack skills and implemented them during competitive play. Finding "Jojo's Mojo" became our team motto when we needed to regain our confidence and aptitude during a game. I am honored to present this year's 8th grade Eagle award in Volleyball to Johanna!"
Grades 7/8 Field Hockey Award (Presented by Coach Jones)
"Dedication to a team is complex. At times, we are thrown a curveball, and it's how a person steps up and makes it the best rather than making it ruin a season that shows character. Ilsa didn't let her season be over from an injury. She turned to her team and decided to play goalkeeper, knowing that it's important and not for everyone, but it was her way of continuing to be a team player. Determined, strong, reliable, and thoughtful, Ilsa never missed practice or complained and stepped onto the field every game even though it was difficult. She was a leader from the goal, suggested ideas, and encouraged her teammates every practice and every game. As the season moved forward and she was able to come back to a field position, it was so evident to see how much she contributed to the team. Incredibly well deserved and so impressive. Your future in athletics will go far with such spirit and good nature. Great job!"
Grades 7/8 Golf Award (Presented by Coach Twarogowski)
"From the first day of practice through to our last tournament, Jordan had a positive attitude that was consistent and contagious- it was an attitude that was felt by the entire team. Whether doling out expert golf tips to his teammates or constantly offering to drive the golf cart for me (never happened), his kind-hearted enthusiasm was appreciated by all. On the links, Jordan's golf persona never waivered. Even at times when his game wasn't going as well as he'd like, he'd always find a way to move past any frustration and quickly regain his confidence. On several occasions, a coach from another team would approach me and share two comments: the first, unsurprisingly, was always about Jordan's height, the second, even less surprising, was about how kind and respectful he is. Aside from being a great and supportive teammate, Jordan is a pretty darn good golfer to boot. His impressive tournament scores earned him 5th place, 2nd place, and two 1st place finishes this season. Not too shabby. It is my privilege and honor to award Jordan with the ⅞ Golf Eagle Award."
Grades 7/8 Soccer Award (Presented by Coach Reyes)
"Without fail, this player came to practice each and every day ready to play. His ability to lead by example is what made him stand out to the rest of the players on the team. There was no question that at the end of each game, he had given it everything he had had. I especially loved his competitiveness and desire to improve his play. Additionally, he cared about everyone on the team and wanted to make sure that things were going well. There were many occasions during the season that he would come to my classroom and just talk about soccer and some improvements that we could make. At that moment, I realized how much he cared about this season and the team. His willingness to help out at a moment's notice and to do so with a positive attitude is just one of the reasons why he was chosen for the Eagle Award this season. Congratulations to Reed."
Grades 7/8 Cross Country Award (Presented by Coach Brown)
"This year's Eagle award recipient has been a pleasure to coach. He is an extremely nice person who has positive interactions with everyone he comes in contact with. Every day he came to practice with a positive attitude and led by example. His determination was obvious to me after our first race. He lost his shoe in a water crossing and finished the race with one shoe. He ran well over a mile with one shoe. Whether he was shoeless at the Slavens Invitational or running laps around Cranmer Park, he always put forth an outstanding effort, and his results reflected that effort. He is a strong runner with great character. Congratulations to this year's Eagle Award recipient, Bodhi."