Scottsdale Schools honors student-athletes at All-City Athletic Awards

Members of the All-City Team which features student-athletes from SUSD’s five high schools who play track and field, tennis, softball and baseball. These student-athletes were honored at the All-City Athletic Awards Banquet Monday, May 15 at the McCormick.(Independent Newsmedia/Josh Martinez)

Scottsdale Unified School District student-athletes took part in a night of frivolity and awards as part of the school year’s final All-City Athletic Awards Banquet.

Student-athletes, coaches, parents and athletic directors packed into the Lakeside Ballroom of The McCormick, 7401 N. Scottsdale Road, Monday, May 15 to recognized student-athletes from the district’s five high schools.

There are three banquets throughout the school year, each aimed at honoring a specific season of high school sports. Monday’s banquet aimed to honor student-athletes in spring sports, which include track and field, baseball, softball and tennis.

“This evening is truly special for me in many ways, but for our athletes, this is to honor our athletes,” SUSD Executive Director of Athletics Clif McKenzie said during the event.

“These may not be your top athletes within that school but that given day, in their sport, they were and we want to honor them.”

Monday also marked Mr. McKenzie’s — who served as master of ceremonies — final banquet in his current role. Mr. McKenzie was an integral part of putting this event together 10 years ago.

The five high school athletic directors took time to say a few awards about Mr. McKenzie and surprise him with a plaque that had the letters from all five high schools.

Valerye Boyer-Wells, a friend of Mr. McKenzie’s since 1977 and a Mesa Municipal Court Judge, surprised Mr. McKenzie and said a few words in his honor.

“You are an exceptional man,” she said. “You have breathed life into so many young people and I consider it an honor and a privilege to be your friend.”

Along with the honoring, Lacey Henderson spoke at the event. She is an above-the-knee amputee who lost her leg to cancer when she was 10.

Ms. Henderson is the American record holder in the Paralympic long jump as well as world record holder in the pole vault. She is looking to make her third World Championships this summer.

Valerye Boyer-Wells speaks at the All-City Athletic Awards Banquet Monday, May 15 to honor SUSD Executive Director of Athletics Clif McKenzie (bottom left). (Independent Newsmedia/Josh Martinez)

The honorees

Winners of the Scottsdale Charro Foundation Scholarship Award were Tatum Prechtel of the Chaparral softball team and Nickolas DiCarlo of the Arcadia baseball team.

Arcadia baseball player Nickolas DiCarlo shakes hands with Dr. Bruce Johnson, pastor of the Scottsdale Presbyterian Church, after receiving his Scottsdale Charro Scholarship Award. (Independent Newsmedia/Josh Martinez)

The Charros presented a $500 award to these student-athletes, who coaches and athletic directors select based on character, academics, community service, athletics and future plans, according to the event’s program.

“We love giving out awards recognizing student-athletes,” Scottsdale Charros Executive Director Dennis Robbins said before introducing the award recipients.

“I’m a Firebird. I went to Chaparral and I was a student-athlete as well. I know where you’re sitting and thank you for all you’ve done for your school and personally.”

Arcadia volleyball player Lindsey Louer and Desert Mountain baseball player Samuel Nalli were recipients of the Sports Destination Network, Inc Inspirational Athlete Award.

Sports Destination Network, Inc. President Dirk Smith was on-hand to present these student-athletes with this award for $500.

Arcadia volleyball player Lindsey Louer poses for a picture with Scottsdale Fire Department Deputy Chief Jim Ford after receiving her Sports Destination Network Inc. Inspirational Athlete Award. (Independent Newsmedia/Josh Martinez)

Coaches nominate a senior student-athlete for this award who helped to create a positive environment for the team while earning the respect leaders and peers, according to the event’s program.

Mr. Smith said from his 12 years of experience with the San Francisco Giants as travel manager and three tours with Team USA in the World Baseball Classic he can see how important these types of student-athletes are to a team.

“They don’t complain when they don’t play, they take advantages of opportunities when they do and they know their role. I’ve seen every single coach and every single manager I’ve been around say that every team needs a person like this.”

Winners of the Larry Hellestrae Memorial Scholarship Awards were Chloe Christakos of the Chaparral soccer team and Matthew Schroer of the Arcadia baseball team.

“It’s a huge honor just representing Arcadia and representing as an All-City student-athlete,” Schroer said after the event. “It’s a great honor and I take a lot of pride in it.”

This scholarship award aims to honor the memory of Larry Hellestrae, an advocate for sports in Scottsdale. Recipients received scholarships after satisfying specified criteria.

Chaparral soccer player Chloe Christakos. (Independent Newsmedia/Josh Martinez)

Some of that criteria includes being a senior, dedicated to sports activity, well rounded, demonstrates sportsmanship, good character and has a GPA of 3.0 or higher.

Mr. Hellestrae’s son Dale Hellestrae announced the recipients and said the amount of the scholarship was $1,500.

Along with the scholarships, the All-City team was announced for each sport represented.

Student-athletes earned spots on these teams by winning their events at the District Championships. This criteria is applicable to track and field as well as tennis.

For baseball and softball, coaches in their respective sports select student-athletes to the All-City team.

Each coach introduced their athletes to the audience at the event and Mr. McKenzie also asked the student-athlete’s’ parents to stand and be recognized along with their child.

News Services Reporter Josh Martinez can be contacted at jmartinez@newszap.com or at 623-445-2738

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