Spring Sports Athletes of the Year
If you haven't noticed, this whole week has been dedicated to honoring our Spring Sports Athletes of the Year.
And over time, the process of naming these award-winners has advanced ten-fold.
Statistics are compiled, debates arise, votes are taken, photo shoots are set up, and a full page is designated for each sport in each season.
In the past, namely 15-20 years ago, a "Player of the Year" may have been mentioned in someone's column or one story may have included seven different winners in a season wrap-up. But now they are given the recognition they deserve.
I thought it would be fun to look at some of the history of our Players of the Year. Below are different facts and figures about these athletes. Of note, the start of our Players of the Year varies by each sport. Some started as far back as 25 years ago, while some others have only been around for 10.
Two current Athletic Directors of TIMES NEWS area schools have won Player of the Year awards. They are Lehighton's Kyle Spotts, who was the Baseball Player of the Year for Tamaqua in 2003, and Panther Valley's Kristin (Blazosky) Black, who was the Girls Track Athlete of the Year for PV in 1998.
A current member of the TIMES NEWS sports department has earned Player of the Year honors. That scribe would by our own Andy Steinmetz, who was the Boys Tennis Player of the Year in 1995 when he was a student at Palmerton.
Four people have managed to claim Player of the Year awards in all four years of their respective sport. They include Pleasant Valley's Jarrett Siwiec (boys tennis 2005-08), Panther Valley's Alyssa Vavra (swimming 2004-05 through 2007-08), and Tamaqua's duo of Alexa Griffiths (girls cross country 2003-06) and Isaac Dunkelberger (boys cross country 2003-06).
Tamaqua has had the most individuals win Player of the Year awards. A total of 44 different athletes have earned the honors. Northwestern is next with 41 while Marian follows with 38.
While co-players have been named on a number of occasions, one group copped the award in back-to-back seasons. That group was Tamaqua's 3200 relay team in 2001 and 2002, which won state gold both years.
Siblings have claimed Player of the Year honors 17 different times. Only once, though, have their been three siblings claim an award, and only once have twins earned top laurels. Northwestern's Hayden trio of Emily, Alison and Samuel were all named in soccer. Alison won in 2001 and 2003, Emily won in 2000 and Samuel was recognized in 2005. Twins Nick and Brad Konawalik also excelled in soccer, earning Player of the Year awards. Brad won in 1995 and Nick was named in 1996.
There is also only one set of siblings to win their awards at different schools. Marian's Casey McConville was the Softball Player of the Year in 2009 while her sister Corrine of Lehighton took the Field Hockey honors in 2009.
Besides the Haydens mentioned above, there are five other brother-sister combos that have been honored. They are Robbie (football) and Abbey (field Hockey) Frey of Lehighton, Terry (basketball) and Tricia (basketball) McElmoyle of Marian, Ryan (golf) and Megan (field hockey) Shaughnessy of Northwestern, Joe (basketball) and Mary (volleyball) Horvat of Marian, and Mark (soccer) and Kim (field hockey) Singleton of Pleasant Valley.
In the category of most dominating, Marian's volleyball program gets the nod. Someone from the Fillies has earned our Volleyball Player of the Year 18 years in a row. The next closest current streak is Lehighton's field hockey program, which has claimed seven straight POY awards.
Two sports are better than one. A total of 10 different athletes have earned awards in different sports. They include Tamaqua's Alex Zubey (cross country, track), Liz Manness (cross country, track) and Allison Updike (track, soccer); Marian's Erin Brady (basketball, track) and Mark Makovec (football, basketball); Northern Lehigh's Ryan Hluschak (football, wrestling) and Tim Pflufer (cross country, track); Jim Thorpe's Geoff Kelowitz (golf, baseball); Panther Valley's Lacey Gonzalez (basketball, track); and Northwestern's Bruce Kite (cross country, track).