The New Era - All about Sweet Home since 1929

Josie Knight, Nick Rodgers named Athletes of the Year


May 31, 2016

BOOSTER CLUB sports award winners include, in front from left, Tyrel Miller, Allison Wickline, Esther Gunselman, Josie Knight, Brittany Nicholson, Sarah Dunkley and Livvie Hindmarsh. In rear, from left, are Charlie Guerrero, Justin Tow, Matt Davis, TJ Baham, Rebecca Wooley, Tyler Plebuch, Madelyn Hawken, Grant Jones, Sierra Swanson, Nick Rodgers, Jake Long and Brandon Keenon.

Nick Rodgers and Josie Knight were named the Booster Club Boy and Girl of the Year at the Senior Sports Banquet held May 22 at the Elks Lodge.

Rodgers lettered four years in soccer and one year in basketball and track, and was named two-time Most Valuable Player and four times to all-league honors.

Knight lettered three years in volleyball and four in track, and played basketball for one year. She earned all-league honors three years in track and making state this year in the shot, as well as running on the state-qualifying girls short relay team for three years.

Dakotah Keys, a 2010 Sweet Home High School graduate who went on to star in the decathlon at the University of Oregon, was the guest speaker. His topic was how failures can be blessings.

He told how, as a rookie track and field athlete at Oregon, his first few months were so difficult that “I almost quit.”

His wife Justine, a former Husky swimmer, told him, “If this is something you really want, you’re going to experience hard things. You’re going to experience failures.”

After having to sit out his first spring with an elbow injury, Keys told his wife he was going to do whatever it took to get in better shape, “mentally and physically,” for the upcoming season. He did, entering the 2012 season “in the best shape of my life” and winning the Pac-12 title that year, scoring over 8,000 points, which was a personal goal.

“I had setback after setback. I had to learn to use those failures and those experiences I had as motivation,” he said. “Without those failures, I don’t think I would be as strong as I am today, mentally and physically.

“I believe failure will teach you way more about yourself, about what you want to accomplish and how you’re going to accomplish it, by failing.

Don’t be afraid to push yourself. Yes, you might fail, but you’re going to learn something about yourself, physically and mentally. You’re going to learn what it takes, to put in that extra work.

He also told the seniors to set goals and prepare to sacrifice to achieve them.

Keys illustrated his point by recalling how, at Oregon, every athlete said they came to Oregon because they wanted “to be better.” But, he said, most also wanted to enjoy the recreational side of college life as well.

“If I was going to be good and accomplish my goals, I was going to have to do the small things,” Keys said.

He noted that he “wasn’t gifted enough” to stay out late and party, like some of his teammates liked to do. He had to get enough sleep, get to practice early to work out and watch videos, and then stretch and ice afterwards.

“If you set goals for yourself, know what it’s going to take to achieve those and don’t be afraid to sacrifice the small things.”

Keys noted that “six years ago I was sitting right where you guys are sitting” and “time goes by fast.”

He said that he’s decided now to end his decathlon career and to take care of his wife and baby daughter.

“I don’t have any regrets, because I put everything on the table. I sacrificed everything,” he said. “I made my wife postpone college and she’s already working.

He encouraged the graduating seniors, who are “leaving something that’s comfortable” and “supportive and loving” coaches, to not “leave in haste and say, ‘I’m done.’”

He challenged the seniors to write a hand-written letter to someone – a coach, a teacher or someone else who influenced them strongly and positively, “what they’ve done for you and what you hope to accomplish with the things they’ve taught you.”

Keys closed by thanking his high school coaches, Billy Snow, Jim Kistner and Ramiro Santana, who were “father figures to me.”

“They taught me what it means to be a good athlete, a man, a husband and father” and how to be “mentally tough and confident.”

Other award winners during the evenings were:

- U.S. Marine Corps Distinguished Athlete Award –TJ Baham and Rebecca Wooley. Baham lettered four years in soccer and track and won the district title in the pole vault this year. He plans to attend Virginia Military Institute. Wooley lettered in volleyball twice and is graduating with perfect grades. She plans to attend Western Oregon University.

Marine Sgt. Rodelio Serquina also presented Desmond Ely with a special certificate recognizing his enlistment in the Marines.

U.S. Army Scholar Athlete Award – Josie Knight and Tyrel Miller. Miller was a three-time state placewinner in wrestling and winner of four district titles, as well as numerous team, district and state honors.

- Greg Hagle Memorial Scholarship – Justin Tow. Tow was named to all-league honors in football, basketball and baseball, and plans to attend Corban University to play baseball.

Spirit of a Champion Award – winners of this award, which honors athletes of good character who have overcome difficult circumstances, were Nick Rodgers, Charlie Guerrero, Jake Long and Tyrell Miller.

Rodgers and Miller both were cited for perseverance through debilitating injuries. Guerrero “had hardly attended school” before coming to Sweet Home, Coach Steve Thorpe said. He is graduating with two letters each in football and track, and competed in wrestling until he had to stop due to injury. Long also battled through adverse circumstances and was a leader on the football team, “the first to help out and he doesn’t leave when there’s things to do,” Thorpe said.

- Moe Award, presented to someone who is a hard worker, though not necessarily a top peformer – Allison Wickline, who lettered four years in soccer, winning multiple district and team awards, as well as cross-country and track, and Charlie Guerrero.

- John Seward Memorial Scholarship – swimmer Grant Jones, who lettered four years in swimming and placed in multiple events over the four years.

- Larry Johnson/Bruce West Sportsmanship Award – Esther Gunselman, who lettered four years in swimming with perfect attendance all four years; Molly Fisher, who lettered three years in volleyball and one in softball; Justin Tow; Nick Rodgers; Grant Jones; and Matt Davis, who lettered four years in track and three in soccer, earning all-league honors in track.

- Hall of Fame Award – Brandon Keenon, who lettered three years in football and baseball, earning all-league honors in both, and finished third in state after joining the wrestling team late in his senior season following a two-year-plus hiatus from the sport; Makayla Nelson, who lettered four years in swimming, won multiple district and state medals; and Tow.

- Husky Award – Athletes who competed in three sports a year for all four years were Tow and Tyler Plebuch, who lettered two years in football, three years in basketball, and one year each in both golf and baseball.

- OSAA/Farmers Insurance Group Scholar Athlete Award winners, presented to graduating senior athletes with a GPA of 3.50 or above were: Rebecca Wooley (4.00), Sarah Dunkley (3.98), Maria Daniels (3.96), Josie Knight (3.94), Justin Tow (3.92), TJ Baham (3.90), Brittany Nicholson (3.89), Sierra Swanson (3.88), Makayla Nelson (3.78), Esther Gunselman (3.78), Charlie Guerrero (3.78), Matthew Davis (3.77), Nick Rodgers (3.76), Julian Hesberg (3.75), Molly Fisher (3.74), Livvie Hindmarsh (3.72), Tyrel Miller (3.72), Malachi Christman (3.71), Adam Barber (3.63), Eric Whitlow (3.62), Allison Wickline (3.62), Brittany Brownell (3.61), Grant Jones (3.60) and Madelyn Hawken (3.60).


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