Nearly 200 players, parents, siblings and friends honored the 2012 varsity, JV and freshman soccer teams tonight, at the 54th annual Staples boys soccer banquet.
The event — at the Norwalk Inn — included speeches by coaches and captains, introductions of all players, and several awards.
“This was one of the most enjoyable years we’ve ever had as coaches,” noted head coach Dan Woog. “Our respect for our guys is immense. They accomplished so much, learned so much, and gave so much back. It’s so nice to spend this evening together with the most important people in our program — each other.”
The 2 Block “S”s went to seniors Greg Shikowitz and Joe Greenwald.
In a vote by teammates, Greg won the Most Valuable Player award. Woog said:
Shik had a superb year. No one got by him. He won slide tackles, interceptions, and headers against guys 6 or 8 inches taller. He went forward on attack, and sprinted back on defense. When we gave him a special marking assignment, he did that too. And Shik did it all with a smile. He loved playing, he loved his position, he loved making a contribution, he loved our team. And we loved having him.
Joe received the Coaches’ Award as Most Improved Player. Woog said:
Joe was elected captain based on his gritty play at the end of last season. But from December to August he worked on his touch, his passing and much more. Joe took the field this fall a different player. His confidence, ball control skills — his entire game — was exponentially better. Joe never lost his tenacity; instead, he built on that foundation to become a more complete player. He’s got the winning formula.
The Alumni Award — given to a player who “best exemplifies the values that have been the foundation of the Staples boys soccer program since its inception” — went to co-captain James Hickok. Woog explained:
As a 4-year varsity — and All-New England — player, James understands exactly what it means to wear the Staples “S.” He knows he did not get here without a lot of hard work done by generations of Staples players before him. He knows he has an obligation to be a role model, pay it forward, and pave the way for generations of future players.
His outstanding work ethic — going to the gym at 5 a.m., training for an hour the morning of a Saturday match, taking total ownership for mistakes, while passing praise on to others when things went well — are qualities that our alumni cherish.
Our alums — and I — are particularly impressed that when James was faced with a very difficult decision — to play high school or academy this fall — he chose Staples soccer. His loyalty to us, and his contributions to our entire program, are supreme. James represents all the best values and ideals of Staples soccer.
The Jeff Lea Award — presented to adults for “long, enthusiastic and meritorious service to the Staples boys soccer program” — was given to Brian Kuk and Brian Chandler. Woog said:
For the past 10 years the 2 Brians have run our STA pre-season camp. With a combination of technical and tactical training, team-building and leadership work, they get our guys ready for tryouts, pre-season and the regular season.
Though Brian and Brian are not Staples grads, they totally “get” Staples soccer. They understand our values, and the importance of high school sports. they enjoy the process of developing a team, and of setting high standards. They love getting to know our players, over a week in August, and then coming back the next year to do it again.
They follow every match, and stay involved all year long. They have a unique perspective on Staples soccer, and they make an invaluable contribution to it. For their 10 years of service — and, I hope, many more — Brian Kuk and Brian Chandler are this year’s winners of the Jeff Lea Award.
The evening included excellent, insightful speeches by freshman captains Noah Schwaeber and Aidan Wisher; JV captains Daniel Boyce, Sebo Hood and Andreas Refvik, and varsity captains Joe Greenwald and James Hickok.
Two more important announcements were also made. James Hickok passed #15 — worn by Preston Hirten ’07, symbolizing tenacious play, passion for soccer and deep commitment to the Staples program — to Jack Scott. The honor is particularly significant because, through his brother Mikey Scott ’11, Jack knew Preston. In addition, both Jack and Preston were fierce defenders. Both Nicky Hoberman ’07 — Preston’s great friend — and James made heartfelt, loving speeches about Preston’s toughness and humanity, and the importance of the #15 tradition.
Co-captains for 2013 are Diego Alanis and Jack Scott. They were elected by their teammates, in what Woog called “overwhelming” votes. He added, “This is an excellent junior class. We expect them all to be excellent leaders next year as seniors — following this year’s seniors, who showed them the way.”
One other award was presented by Chris O’Dell. Kenji Goto and James Lewis earned the Stephen Martin Award, presented annually to a freshman player who “best epitomizes Steve’s special spirit, by combining the desire to excel with the willingness to work and the eagerness to share.”