Varsity Field Hockey (NEPSAC Class C Champions!)
Lila Schibli ’18, Most Improved Player Award
Lila Schibli earned this year’s Most Improved Player Award. Left wing is among the hardest positions in field hockey because you are either receiving the ball reverse on the smallest part of the stick, or from behind as you try to move up the field. Lila worked through the frustrations inherent to this position with grace and composure and showed up each day to practice working to make progress. Progress as an athlete is never constant, but Lila stuck it out through hard moments this season, knowing that if she persevered she would come out on the other end. As a captain, she modeled that it is okay to make mistakes as you work to become a better player, but never to be satisfied with where you are. We are so thankful for her leadership and dedication this season.
Bridget Pope ’18, Coaches’ Award
Bridget Pope approached me last spring after she was named captain and said she wanted to work on the team’s confidence. She knew this was an area of her mental game on which she wanted to focus, but she rightly reasoned that she was not the only one who struggled with this component of the game. Every day she was in tune with how her team was doing and cared enough to share with us when she needed support as a leader. Her honest, candid leadership was a huge factor in this team’s success. She was strong enough to be vulnerable in front of her team and to share when she was struggling mentally; she made it a safe place to work on this hugely important component of any athletic endeavor. We will miss her leadership, smile, aerial free hits, and perhaps most of all, her scrunchy styling of the defense. Thank you, Bridget, for leading this team with us this year.
JV Field Hockey
Hallenbeck Barker ’21, Coaches’ Award
With a small squad, it was hard to give just one award. Each player contributed so much to our team, but we would like to recognize one underclassman who consistently stepped up when we asked. We present the Coaches’ Award to an individual who never failed to make me, and Coach Stigum, laugh. Despite occasionally completing our warm-up jog in her crocs, she showed up everyday mostly ready to work. When we found ourselves without a goalie, she stepped up to the plate, and despite her disgust at certain pieces of a goalie’s protective gear, she persevered. If you don’t know Halle Barker, you are missing out. She often “carried the luggage” for our team with a smile on her face. Congratulations, Halle!
Girls’ Varsity Soccer
Audrey Simonson ’18, Most Improved Player Award
Our Most Improved Player Award could have gone to so many players this year. However, one player in particular managed to go from sitting on the bench at the start of the season, to starting on the field, to becoming an intricate part of both our defense and our offense. At first, I really didn’t know how she would fit into our lineup, but she proved me wrong. She was hard on herself, refused to settle, constantly looked for ways to improve and get better, asked questions, and earned her spot. She managed to be a fierce competitor while wearing the biggest smile. We couldn’t be prouder to give the Most Improved Player Award to Audrey Simonson.
Abby Wiseman ’18, Coaches’ Award
Our Coaches’ Award this year goes to a four-year player. She came to Holderness as a midfielder and made the team, but saw very little playing time her freshman year. She earned more playing time each year and embraced a brand new position on defense as a junior to benefit the team. She didn’t even complain too much when I wouldn’t let her go up for corner kicks. Being a center back is an all-guts-no-glory role. This player was vocal, fearless, and epitomized what it means to work hard. She was the one player we didn’t sub all season long. She led a backline of brand new players, and did everything we asked of her. She carried our luggage. This year’s Coaches’ Award goes to Abby Wiseman.
Girls’ JV Soccer
Katrina Grzeszczuk ’20, Most Improved Player Award
Katrina began the fall season with a good skill set, but she was willing to take risks and work hard to improve those skills. Over the course of the season, she gained confidence and improved her ball anticipation, her punting, and her judgment regarding the best defensive move for a given situation. She was peppered in a few games, despite the great teamwork of and protection provided by her defense. Time after time she had incredible saves, made with intention and solid technique, not just luck. The most memorable moments included watching her come out of the net to face an opposing shooter with great timing and a fearless desire to get the ball, as well as seeing her teammates swarm her, win or lose. While she wanted to be a field player and played various offensive and defensive positions in practice, she always played in the net for our games and for that the coaches and the whole team owe her a big THANK YOU!
Avery Reynolds ’19, Coaches’ Award
Avery is the recipient of the Coaches' Award this year for girls' JV soccer. As one of our three elected team captains, Avery was the glue that helped to unite this varied group of athletes. She consistently offered to help with equipment, set up drills during practice, and organize her teammates for activities both on and off the field. Her leadership was notable not only for her initiative but also for her excellent follow-through. She was our leader on the field as well, playing defensive sweeper and managing our defensive line. Again and again, she would appear out of nowhere and demolish a break-away attempt, or prevent a turn to the goal even when, from the sidelines, she appeared to be beaten. This was followed by a well-aimed clear. Avery is a strong and reliable athlete as well as a kind person. The perfect combination!
Boys’ Varsity Soccer
Nick Grammas ’18, Most Improved Player Award
This year's Most Improved Player Award goes to senior Nick Grammas. The award represents a body of work which began with Nick making the 2015 Championship squad. Always one to give full effort in practice, he began to sharpen his skills and field sense, although he saw very little game action. That work continued into the 2016 season, and again he saw very few game minutes. This season, when some others may have thrown in the towel, Nick persisted, and when the opportunity came for him to get in a match, all that hard work paid off. His time had arrived, he got a good deal of playing time, and he embraced it with positivity and enthusiasm—and went really hard in every minute he played. Coaches Houseman and Antonides were not at all surprised to see this happen. He earned every minute on the pitch.
Ryan Houx ’18, Coaches’ Award
This season’s Coaches’ Award goes to Ryan Houx. Ryan also joined the team in 2015 and had the distinct pleasure of scoring the winning goal in the championship game. This year, as one of our tri-captains, he quietly led by example in every practice and every game. We had some low moments, but Ryan never showed any sign of negativity or lack of effort. He kept his smile and his sense of humor and just kept working. A real blue-collar Bull.
Quinn Houseman ’18, Weston Lea Spirit Award
This year’s Weston Lea Spirit Award goes to senior tri-captain Quinn Houseman. Q has been on the squad for four years and spent a good deal of time around the team as a youngster. He has developed into a highly skilled player with great field sense and a true passion for competing on the pitch—one of those players you might hate to play against but feel lucky to have on your team. It is the essence of what Weston was all about—loving the game and his teammates. There is a photo of Quinn right after our semi-final loss in the playoffs in 2016 that will stick in this author’s mind for many moons. His jersey looks like he crawled through a mud bog and the effort of a tough loss is etched on his face—disappointed but determined to go forward. Keep the ball rolling Q—remember Weston.
Boys’ JV1 Soccer
Quang Minh Do ’19, Most Improved Player Award
When I first met Quang his ninth-grade year working in Niles, I remember that Mr. Graham and I would have to take away his laptop at night. I was worried about his Mountain Dew intake and never thought he would be one of the most important players on my soccer team. You should see this kid jump. Coach Hill rightly crowned him Air Quang. Quang can literally play any position on the field, and he had the greatest tactical awareness on the team, making our season a success.
Keegan Penny ’18, Coaches’ Award
Next year I will coach my first game at Holderness School without Keegan Penny. I have coached few athletes that demonstrate his level of leadership and heart on the field. He brings a different level of intensity and fortitude to the group that is difficult to match. Every day this season, he showed up first to practice, grabbing the equipment from the shed. Players like Keegan have helped to transition the JV program from a mediocre 7-5-4 in 2015 to 23 wins over the past two seasons. Thank you, Keegan.
Boys’ JV2 Soccer
Young Gwon ’19, Coaches’ Award
This year’s Coaches’ Award goes to a junior who has led the team in scoring for the past two years. When we looked to individuals to display a focused, strong work ethic in every practice and game, this player set the bar high. When we needed someone to lead as a captain and someone to compete whenever the team was running out of gas, we turned to this player. Though quiet in nature, this year’s Coaches’ Award recipient loves the game of soccer and understands the value of sportsmanship and hard work. Congratulations, Young Gwon.
Boss Ngamkanjanarat ’18, Most Improved Player Award
For his greatly improved defensive skills—that ultimately had him marking the opponent’s most skilled striker—his uncompromising work ethic in each and every practice and game, and for his quiet leadership, sportsmanship and teamwork throughout the season, please join me in awarding this year’s MIP to Boss Ngamkanjanarat.
Girls’ Varsity Cross-Country
Bryn Donovan ’19, Most Improved Player Award
This runner won every race of the season, not by finishing first but instead by continually running her best race. From start to finish on our 5K race courses, she improved her time over the season a staggering 6-plus minutes. There were others on the team who also worked hard to improve and for whom distance running was not a natural fit, but this runner was not only the model for quiet perseverance, but she was also unwaveringly cheerful, optimistic, and helpful. She fought to win every race against her last best effort as she celebrated the victories of others. She never shirked from embracing even the most grueling workouts—up the hills, in the rain, and through the mud. Despite how tired she might have been, she was always there to lend a helping hand to do whatever needed to be done. It’s an honor to have had this athlete on our team and to present Bryn Donovan with the Most Improved Player Award.
Rebecca Feist ’18, Coaches’ Award
This year’s Coaches’ Award goes to Rebecca Feist. Rebecca arrived at Holderness last year, already a talented runner. Her talent lay in her pain tolerance, her ability to suffer and press on, and her willingness to “go to the well” every time. This year, Rebecca became a different runner. She moved from her place as a solid peloton runner, to nipping at the heels of the best runners in the region and establishing herself as one among them. The change was simple, and yet it had large ripples. Rebecca became a poised and intentional runner. She approached the sport with rationality and patience. This is much harder than it might sound, especially for young runners. There’s something about knowing that you are going to put your body out on a course for three miles of consistent pain that makes approaching racing hard to do in a level-headed manner. It is easier to relax into the idea that one cannot control a race than it is to have to grab the bull by the horns. It also takes a lot of poise to believe in a coach’s training plan, to be patient, to not over-train, and to not throw in the towel after a setback—especially for runners who care a lot about the sport. Rebecca became that balanced and patient runner this year, and it paid off.
Aldie Anderson ’18 and Mitch Orosz ’18, Coaches’ Award
Two seniors, Aldi Anderson and Mitch Orosz, earned the Coaches’ Award for their honest dedication and commitment to the team and to the sport. They both exhibited to this young team how easy it is to believe in what you are doing and do it well. It was a pleasure to run with these guys everyday and watch them work their magic, often unnoticed by their peers but never by their coaches. Thanks for the positivity, good cheer, and buy-in you presented everyday.
Garrison Gagnon ’21, Most Improved Player Award
Garrison Gagnon quietly, patiently, and diligently exhibited a determination to improve. Without drawing attention to himself, he embraced every workout and ran hard every race day. Garrison’s work ethic and appreciation for the sport was inspirational to all who ran with him.
Piseth Sam ’18, Coaches’ Award
While the Coaches’ Award can be defined in many ways, our coaches prefer to think of it as the most valuable player. Not in the way that professional sports have altered the idea, but in the true definition of the word “value.” The clearest test of value is to imagine your team without this individual. For us, Piseth Sam added the most value, and we couldn’t imagine our team—embodying the characteristics of selflessness, hard work, and care for each other—without him. On the field, he has been nothing if not reliable as a three-year starter at linebacker, forcing the most turnovers of any Bull during his tenure. More importantly, he was able to empathize with every player’s needs and acts as an advocate for those in need. Piseth is the type of person that you feel lucky to know, lucky to play with, and lucky to coach. Congratulations, Piseth.
Alex Oliver ’19, Most Improved Player Award
When you think of a good varsity high school football lineman, you picture a boy that is between 5’ 11” and 6’ 3”. He weighs between 195 lbs. and 235 lbs. He has fast and powerful feet and an upper body that can bench 5 or 6 times his body weight. Alex Oliver has none of these traits, and yet he started on both sides of the ball and often found himself on special teams. In looking through the films, I believe he logged more playing minutes than anyone else on the team.
Andrew MacLeod ’18 and Stew Hutchinson ’18, Norm Walker Spirit Award
In his Boston Globe obituary, it was said of Norm Walker that he got into his players' souls and gave them confidence to be more than they thought they could be. This year's Norm Walker Spirit Award goes to a pair of seniors who played inspired football and exceeded their own expectations. For one, that meant playing nearly every position on the field, even though he believed that football wasn't a real sport in the way that rugby was—as any Brit would tell you. The other recipient entered camp as a lacrosse player and offered the team a lot of athleticism, but he soon established himself as a leader on defense, one of the most physical kids on our team. He came to practice everyday to work hard and get better.
Chip Peterson ’21, Coaches’ Award
There was no JV team this fall and therefore no game schedule either. Fortunately, the JV boys partnered with Proctor Academy for two games--one against Exeter High School and one against St. Paul’s School. Chip Peterson played in both games, serving as offensive tackle and defensive end. Despite having never played either position in practice, Chip did exceedingly well! Chip was also a great scout player, simulating the moves of opponents during practice and whatever else we asked of him. Congratulations, Chip!
William Clouse ’21, Most Improved Player Award
William Clouse has never played football. I don’t think he follows the NFL, and to this day I am not sure he knows the rules. What I do know is that when 15 of his experienced peers walked away from the game, William didn’t quit! He embraced a foreign language, he put his body into positions he never thought possible, and by the end of the year he earned the respect of everyone on the field. William Clouse finishes what he starts!
Tommy Hendricks ’19, Most Improved Player Award
Our Most Improved Award goes to Tommy Hendricks, who joined us as a brand new rider in September and devoted himself to mastering the skills required of our sport. Tommy sought new challenges every day and embraced the sweat and even blood that he found beyond the borders of his comfort zone. By the end of the season, Tommy was able to ride difficult terrain and keep up with seasoned veterans.
Morgan Sawyer ’18 and Luke Valentine ’18, Coaches’ Award
Success in mountain biking depends largely on attitude. If we view each ride as a requirement or a chore, we soon become frustrated by the leaves, roots, and steep hills that challenge us. We are lucky to have teammates like Luke Valentine and Morgan Sawyer, who, with their joy, remind us that each ride is a tremendous gift. Luke and Morgan make every day fun for their peers and the adults, and we are happy to recognize their combined eight years of commitment to this program with this year’s Coaches’ Award.
Nick Spanos ’21, Most Improved Player Award
If there were a version of baseball cards for rock climbers, instead of listing height, weight, and batting average, they would list ape index, strength-to-weight ratio, and pull-ups to failure. On all of these account, Nick Spanos was made for rock climbing. In fact, his strength-to-weight ratio is so favorable that he often climbed without worrying about using solid feet and powerful leg muscles. Despite this initial advantage, there is always room to grow in climbing, and Nick demonstrated that growth both in strength and in his technique and mental approach to challenging climbs.
Jullia Tran ’18, Coaches’ Award
The Coaches’ Award this year goes to Jullia Tran. A better-named award couldn’t be created to acknowledge what Jullia brought to the team this fall. That’s because she was essentially an extra coach on the team. While there were more psyched climbers, and those who climbed more, or harder, there were none as dedicated to helping make our practices run smoothly; she brought a positive and mature attitude to practice every day. We will surely be missing her next year.