Well, it’s over, and we made it.
Tuesday night brought a conclusion to the 2016-17 Scholastic Sports season for us at The Times-Tribune. It was a wonderful ceremony in the fifth-floor auditorium of The Scranton Times Building and honestly, there are so many people who work hard to make this event happen each year, it’s amazing. There were a few added touches to this year’s event as it celebrated its 67th year. This is a time-honored tradition, one I have been a part of since 1998. That is a very long time ago,
It’s always nice to have an opportunity to say thank you to the athletes and their parents and coaches one final time. We watch these young women and men grow from their freshman seasons until they are literally young adults. We celebrate their many victories and we share in their sometimes heartbreaking defeats. That’s the nature of sports.
Each year, at this time, as sports editor Chris Imperiale pointed out in his opening remarks, there are those who will question the process of selecting an athlete of the week, or a performer of the year, or the overall athletes of the year. I echo his sentiment that this is something we as a staff take very seriously. Joseph M. Butler founded this award long before any one on this staff was around, and with some luck, it will be around long after we are gone. This is, without a doubt, the most respected honor a high school athlete can receive in Northeast Pennsylvania. The responsibility of selecting just one of the many who achieve athletic excellence is something we take to heart. It’s intense, and feelings can get hurt. But we come together each week and we leave knowing we always recognize the most deserving recipient. Also remember, and athlete can only receive one athlete of the week. That gave us 43 athletes honored throughout the year and last night. I know the audience in attendance listened closely to longtime MC Scotty Walsh as he recapped each athlete’s accomplishment for their selected week. If you listen, and not just hear, you will know, our athletes had amazing seasons.
So, congratulations to those who were honored.
We also recognized longtime head football coach Nick Donato. He turned North Pocono into a football powerhouse and took over at Scranton Prep, elevating the program to championship levels. He is one of the most respected and innovative coaches of the last 30 years. His intensity and commitment to excellence, and his dedication to developing strong student-athletes made him a shining star in the landscape of this area’s scholastic sports history. Congratulations, coach.
Joseph M. Butler Award winner
Then, we capped the celebration by naming The Times-Tribune Female and Male Athletes of the Year. This feature began in 2003 and the announcements have become the most anticipated part of the school year. Again, it’s not easy to focus in on only two athletes of the many who made this year so special. However, I we worked very hard on these selections.
Lakeland’s Brooke Estadt was chosen as the Female Athlete of the Year. She was a three-sport standout who earned all-star honors in soccer, basketball and track and field. She was The Times-Tribune Female Performer of the Year in track and field, a two-time PIAA medal winner and the LIAA Scholar-Athlete of the Year. She will be attending Cornell University.
2016-17 FEMALE ATHLETE OF THE YEAR
Western Wayne’s Ryan Atcavage was chosen as the Male Athlete of the Year. He, too, was a three-sport standout who earned all-star honors in soccer and track and field, and second-team all-star honors in wrestling. He was The Times-Tribune Male Performer of the Year in track and field, and a two-time PIAA medal winner, including a gold in the Class 2A pole vault. He is attending Marywood University.
2016-17 MALE ATHLETE OF THE YEAR
The 67th Athlete of the Week
That’s all for now.
There is still the matter of announcing the 2017 All-Region teams for Softball and Baseball, and I assure you they are coming in the approaching weeks.
But, for me, I am taking a break. Like Amity Mayor Larry Vaughn said about how long the beaches would be closed after a shark attack in Jaws, “Only 24 hours.”
Well, not really, 24 hours. I am actually going to take a break for a couple of days any way. Then, before we all know it, July 10th will be here and I will be at the Scranton Lions Club Dream Game Media Day, which not only signals the start of the 2017-18 Scholastic Sports season, but also the end of summer for me.
Finally, thank you again to all who were on hand to contribute and make this 67th ceremony a success. And, of course, thank you to the athletes, for without you none of this is possible.
Best of luck and continued success.