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Knight senior athletes honored at annual awards night

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by Joshua Spaulding
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Sports Editor - Salmon Press Newspapers

BANNERS were presented to numerous Kingswood athletes at the Senior Athlete Awards Night on June 13. Left to right, Pat Meyers and Liz McLaughlin (1,000 points), Haley Bridgeman (200 goals), Mary Kretchmer (Nordic All-American), Emma Bellefleur, Hannah Demain, Maddie Shatzer and Sarah Hotchkiss (Division II Nordic runners-up) and Owen Gwizdala and Brodie Deshaies (4X800-meter Division II champs). Joshua Spaulding. (click for larger version)
June 19, 2017
WOLFEBORO — The Kingswood sports season came to a close with the second annual Senior Athlete Awards Night, which honored the members of the Class of 2017 for their achievements on the fields, courts and courses throughout the years.

"It's a special night for our senior athletes and the athletic department," said Athletics Director Aaron House in welcoming the assembled crowd. "It's an opportunity to pay homage to the seniors and celebrate individual accomplishments and team accomplishments in the 2016-2017 school year."

House thanked the Kingswood Athletics Boosters, Ann Okkola for making the senior posters and books, Tresa Livernois for painting the 1,000-point balls, department assistant Cindy Murry for keeping everything together, assistant AD Dick Arthur for his help running the departments and trainer Alex Dria for his work with the athletes. He also thanked Scott Giessler, the school's drama teacher, for running the evening from the booth.

He then thanked the department's 82 coaches who he said showed dedication and commitment to the student-athletes and also thanked the administrative teams at the high school and middle school. He also thanked the parents and the athletes for their commitment.

"Thank you for accepting the new direction," he said. "The class of 2017 is involved, dedicated and accountable."

Kingswood graduate Hilary Gehman was the guest speaker. The 1989 alum competed in field hockey, Nordic skiing and track during her time at Kingswood and went on to Colby College, where she competed in field hockey, rowing and Nordic skiing.

She rowed on the US National Team from 1999 to 2004, including stints in the 2000 Olympics in Sydney, Australia and the 2004 Olympics in Athens, Greece, finishing fifth in both. Her boat also finished third in the World Championships in 2001.

Since then, she's turned to coaching, serving as a mentor at Lewis and Clark College, Georgetown and Cornell, where she led the program to the Ivy League silver medal. She is currently the events manager for the Princeton National Rowing Association, where she manages all events on Mercer Lake in West Windsor, N.J. She lives with her husband and two kids in New Jersey.

She admitted that it was the first time she'd been back to Kingswood in a long time and she was impressed with the new facilities the students have at their fingertips. She was planning on taking a tour with Tom Merrell, her former physics teacher, the next morning.

"I remember being where the seniors are now and thinking 'what's next?'" she said. "I wasn't sure how athletics would fit in."

She found rowing in the spring of her freshman year and admitted that it made no sense to her.

"But it was an event that really spoke to me as an athlete and a team environment that was beneficial to me," Gehman said. "That's where I found a passion, that's what's important for everybody."

She admitted that the passion doesn't have to be in athletics, but every person should find what matters to them.

"Consider walking on, considering playing something different," she said. "Rowing is a sport you can still walk on to in college, a lot of Olympians walked on.

"But do something that allows you to be competitive, to be healthy and to be fit," Gehman noted. "I didn't know how to keep going with athletics, but you just do. It's a great part of post high-school life."

She pointed out that athletics have been part of these athletes lives for a long time and they don't have to stop there. And she noted it's important to have fun.

"When you're having fun and enjoying what you're doing, that's when the success comes," Gehman concluded.

Kingswood Assistant Principal William Douglass announced the Scholar-Athlete Award winners. Award winners must be a senior with a B+ average through their career, be active and letter in at least two sports and be a positive role model who participates in community service.

The winners were Alexa Barnard, Emma Bellefleur, Haley Bridgeman, Alyssa Cheney, Hannah Demain, Courtney Drew, Michelle Frady, Allison House, Mary Kretchmer, Mallory McCullough, Elizabeth McLaughlin, Kyleigh Moore, Aislinn Noble, Maddison Rabideau, Brooke Seigars, Jasper Shapiro, Emily Skelley, Abigail Trach, Lianne Zhuang, Sheldon Billings, Mark Chrysafidis, Drew Connelly, Jacob Dearborn, Brodie Deshaies, Owen Gwizdala, Cole Johnston, Brennin Loring, Jake Merrill, Patrick Meyers, Lucas O'Brien, Cameron Place, Matt Ridings, Jack Saunders, Sam Allard, Tyler Runnals, Isaac Sheahan, Will Treuel, Randy Willette and Ryan Willette.

The Booster Club was next to present its three scholarships. Paul Doran and Barbara Garabedian thanked the athletic department and presented the scholarships to Mary Kretchmer, Liz McLaughlin and Jacob Dearborn. Dearborn was presented with the inaugural Paul Harvey Scholarship, as the club named one of its scholarships after retiring track and cross country coach Paul Harvey.

"He always found a way to include a growing number of student-athletes in our programs," Garabedian noted. "His knowledge and dedication has given our student-athletes an opportunity for special achievements."

House then presented banners that will hang on the gym wall. Pat Meyers and Liz McLaughlin will be added to the 1,000-point banner for basketball, while Haley Bridgeman has a banner for her 200 lacrosse goals. Mary Kretchmer was presented an All-American banner for her work this season, while this year's Nordic skiing girls were presented the Division II runner-up banner. The 4X800-relay team of Brodie Deshaies, Owen Gwizdala, Brent Coope and Wyatt Pooler were presented with their championship banner.

House also presented Kingswood's last 1,000-point scorer, Kohl Meyers, with a painted ball to honor his achievement a few years ago in the season's final playoff game at Portsmouth.

The ceremony then moved on to the major awards. The first three awards are grounded in the department's mantra, "The Pursuit of Excellence with Courage and Honor."

The Excellence Award is given to student-athletes who possess notable athletic ability, best exemplify student-athlete's outstanding efforts in the pursuit of excellence and inspire their teammates in the areas of athletic performance and academic achievement.

The Courage Award is given to athletes who best possess and demonstrate in their normal living, special dedication and qualities such as courageousness, leadership, teamwork, good citizenship, perseverance and devotion to team effort.

The Honor Award is given to athletes exemplify distinction and respect and fellow seniors pay heed to and honor the recipient in the areas of good character, modesty, loyalty, moral integrity, sportsmanship and scholarship.

First was the Female Excellence Award, presented by volleyball coach Al Koehler.

"She has it all and has a bright future ahead of her," said Koehler in presenting the award to Haley Bridgeman. "She challenges herself every time she steps on the court. She's a force to be reckoned with, a great teammate and leader."

Bridgeman thanked her coaches and her parents for everything throughout her career.

Boys' lacrosse coach Matt Tetreault was next to present the Male Excellence Award.

"He exemplifies excellence in many facets of his life, on and off the field," Tetreault said. "He was a special teams weapon on the football team, gave it all in alpine and became a student of the game in lacrosse."

He then presented the award to Mark Chrysafidis, who went on to thank his parents and coaches and gave a shoutout to his boys for helping him through the tough times.

Girls' hoop coach Dan Chick was up next to present the Female Courage Award and noted the recipient was a very rare athlete, starting all four years on varsity in all three sports, serving as a captain in all three and earning All-State in all three.

"She spent three years with me and improved every year," Chick said in presenting the award to Liz McLaughlin. "She did some very special things during her career."

He pointed to a game two years ago at Manchester West when McLaughlin took five offensive charges.

"Those girls just barreled into her," Chick said. "She deserved every single one of those calls."

McLaughlin thanked her mom and dad for being there through everything and her coaches for helping her through everything.

Harvey was next up to present the Male Courage Award and talked about courage.

"He faced a very challenging year, but he was always there supporting his teammates," Harvey said of the winner. "He was a coach's dream and a coach's nightmare.

"He was a dream in that he goes 100 percent with 100 percent enthusiasm," Harvey noted. "And a nightmare in that he doesn't even know when to stop."

Harvey then presented the award to Sheldon Billings.

"I don't know what courage means to me, but I've tried to give it my all," Billings said.

House then made a special presentation to Harvey, a track and field record board that will bear his name and will hang in the school.

Nordic coach Tom Merrell presented the Female Honor Award and remembered back to when the winner was in seventh grade and took her relay team past numerous teams to pick up lots of positions in the race.

"The dedication she demonstrated in seventh grade has been repeated every year since," Merrell said. "During her four years it was rare that she was not in first place."

At the Junior National Championships she took her relay team from seventh place to second place and earned two All-America honors.

"She did all of this while setting an excellent example of good sportsmanship while being humble and modest," Merrell said in presenting the award to Mary Kretchmer.

Kretchmer thanked her parents, her friends, teachers and coaches for helping along the way.

"I couldn't have done it alone," she said.

Football coach Justin Leonard came to the microphone to present the Male Honor Award. He noted that in the halls of Kingswood you see a lot of things, but also hear even more things. And he pointed out that the winner wasn't a person he heard from in that way.

"He led the charge in our charity event and really embraced the Salute to Service," Leonard said. "He was a captain of multiple teams and picked up a sport he hadn't played in four years and became a beast in hockey.

"He also broke a decades-old school record," Leonard said. "And he never spoke about those things, I had to go ask him."

He presented the award to Jacob Dearborn, who thanked his mom and dad plus his coaches, including Tetreault, Mike Potenza, Leonard and Harvey.

"I appreciate all the work you do to help me compete at the level I do," Dearborn said.

Trainer Alex Dria presented the Comeback Award, which is awarded to athletes who have battled back, overcome or continually managed a major injury.

"It was difficult to decide on this year, partly because this class was injured so often," Dria said with a laugh. "But also because they all worked hard to come back and didn't let the injuries get the best of them."

He presented the female award to Michelle Frady.

"You name it, she probably had it," Dria said. "But she always had a positive outlook."

The male award was given to Nick Baston.

"He's always working to learn more and know what's going on," Dria said. "He stayed positive through the whole thing, never once did he get down on himself."

Both winners thanked Dria for helping them through their injuries.

Coach Kaitlin Reilly presented the Warrior Award, which is given to a single athlete who has shown great dedication, vigor, concentration and aggressiveness during their career.

"What does a warrior athlete look like at KRHS," Reillly said and went on to present numerous qualities, including well-rounded, hard-working, trustworthy and grace under pressure.

She then presented the award to Emily Skelley, who thanked her family and every single one of her coaches throughout her career, singling out Reilly.

"I wouldn't be the player or person I am without her," Skelley said.

The final awards presented were the Coach of the Year honors.

Arthur presented the Middle School Coach of the Year.

"She fully embraced the idea of integrating middle school athletics with the high school program," Arthur said. "Her hard work and dedication has positively impacted kids at Kingswood.

He presented the award to Becky Bartlett, who noted she could not do it without the athletes, who continue to amaze her.

Last year's JV Coach of the Year, Marty Garabedian, presented the JV Coach of the Year.

"Any good coach has a passion for the game, the ability to successfully teach fundamentals and is respected by kids and other coaches," Garabedian said.

In presenting the award to Joe Faragher, Garabedian noted that he led the JV boys' basketball team to 13 wins in what will be his final season at Kingswood, as he will be taking over as head coach at Prospect Mountain.

Faragher thanked his fellow hoop coaches for their support.

"Without the support of the program from the top down, I wouldn't be up here," he said.

The final award was the Varsity Coach of the Year. House noted that this coach was incredibly organized, running an incredibly buttoned-up operation while also being super competitive.

Last year's Coach of the Year then presented the award to golf coach Jeremy Fuller.

"We have a long way to go, this is just motivation," Fuller said, while also thanking his wife and kids for their support and fellow coaches Josh Johnson and Bill Barton, captains Sam Barton and Jack Saunders, the Boosters club and Kingswood Golf Club.

"It's an honor to teach you and an honor to coach you," Fuller said. "This is a great place to work."

Joshua Spaulding can be reached at 569-3126 or sportsgsn@salmonpress.com.

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