Team Party: Player Awards and Recognition
Last week the end of season team party was held at the beautiful home of Ginny and Lucia Pohlman. We enjoyed a nice dinner and dessert and then gathered to hear the words of Coach Katie and Jake. Coach Alissa would not be with the group that night but her warmth and spirit were surely felt.
Beginning with the freshmen, Katie and Jake praised Foges for her tremendous contributions and ever-present smile. I can still see Foges leaping high to block shots throughout the season and even when she got her first kill! Always smiling and hustling on the court, Foges was a force to be reckoned with and boy oh boy is she going to be nails next year!
Noting her tough role as a front line starter as a frosh, Katie and Jake praised Hannah for her many contributions throughout the year. Like the other Fab Four, freshman Hannah did a great job as part of the 'forest' up front for Redwood. She also was a great compliment to Kelsey who was stellar as a shot blocker.
Katie and Jake praised Sierra for stepping into the role as a setter giving Lucia more opportunities as a hitter. And step in big time she did. Sierra's serves and defense were awesome and her overall play was well beyond her class year. The cheer "She's a freshman..." were heard many times this season and indeed did Sierra surprise a lot of opposing teams and coaches with her play.
DG was praised for her contributions particularly in big games and most noticeably down the playoff stretch. Praising her athletic ability, Katie complimented DG for her fire on the court and her ability to step in during tough games and immediately make a diffference for the Giants. This Fab Four has a great career ahead of them and DG is going to continue to be a huge part of Redwood's success.
The juniors were next and Michaelah was praised for her competitive spirit and will to win. Jake offered up his pleasant surprise when he first saw Michaelah on the court and saw her diving, hustling, and going for every ball she could. Michaelah's season was marked by solid back court play, incredible 'ups' and digs, and yes, a tremendous fire to win that we all appreciated and respected.
Alyssa dunne-dunne-dunne-DUNNE was praised for being a solid all around contributor and for her great hustle on the court. Katie and Jake said that Alyssa could always be counted on to hustle after every ball and show up in tough situations with solid, dependable play. Alyssa's overall athletic ability and competitive spirit makes her a formidable teammate and a very tough player to defend as so many opponents found out.
LBL! Coach Katie praised Lindsey for her many incredible saves as she put every ounce of her heart and body into each play. From game one it was evident that LBL was going to be a huge factor in the Giant's success and boy did she deliver. Katie and Jake also complimented Lindsey for her solid serving and irrepressible smile and attitude.
Kelsey was praised for her amazing blocking ability and her speed moving laterally. What was great about this was that Coaches Katie and Jake pointed out that much of what Kelsey contributed was not on anyone's radar but could not be overlooked. Whether making a high leap to block a shot alone or teaming up with other front line defenders, Kelsey had a great season on defense and made significant contributions on the offense side of the net.
Lizzie was praised by Coach Katie for her floor leadership and all around great play. Calling Liz 'indispensable" Coach Katie talked of how Liz took control of several games, including Bishop O'Dowd, as her serves, kills and blocks often turned the tide for Redwood. Coach Jake praised Liz for being a big player who stepped up in big games.
Senior Sarah was praised by Coach Katie for her great defense and serves and for always keeping the spirit of the team alive and kicking no matter if Sarah was on the court or off. Acknowledging her role as a team captain, Sarah was praised for her leadership and contributions in so many ways.
Unfortunately Niki had to leave early as she was recovering from surgery but the praise flowed from Coaches Katie and Jake for this very competitive DS. Time after time Niki made huge saves and created the opportunity for the hitters to pound away. Niki was also a leader on the team in so many ways as she truly represented the spirit of this team.
Lucia was praised for her amazing season. Coach Katie pointed out that Lucia's powerful hitting made it impossible to use her solely as a setter. However, unlike many 'true' setters we faced, Lucia's athletic ability as a hitter was simply monstrous. Dartmouth bound, Lucia completed her three years on varsity with game after game of high level play.
Coach Katie praised Ursula for her great season as well. From her laser bolt kills to her signature 'dinkasaurus' cross court tips, Ursula was a complete player. Noting how she wanted to develop Ursula into a 6 position player, Coach Katie praised Ursula for her successful transition into just that kind of a player.
A special hello to a certain Grandfather who has been following the play of his Granddaughter and teammates all season long. Thank you for those kind words and for being such a great supporter of the girls.
Every year Coach Katie awards a few players for their very special accomplishments.
Most Improved Player Award was given to Sophie diGrazia. Being selected as a freshman to Redwood varsity volleyball in and of itself is a tremendous accomplishment. What Katie and Jake saw in DG from day one was her athletic ability and desire to work hard. DG was singled out for how far she's come in her skills and again, given that she was one of the Fab Four, that's saying quite a bit about your season DG. Congratulations.
Offensive Player of the Year Award was given to Lizzie Ahern. Katie cited Lizzie's number of kills, team leading hit-to-kill ratio, and ability to deliver in big games on a team with big hitters, Katie and Jake also praised Liz for her power and placement of kills and ability to read the defense and take advantage of that.
Most Valuable Player Award was given to both Ursula Kunhardt and Lucia Pohlman. Citing the contributions of seniors Ursula and Lucia, Coaches Katie and Jake spoke about how Ursula and Lucia complemented each other with their power, hustle, setting, defense, and desire to win. Each girl played her own unique brand of volleyball and in doing so, the team was that much the better.
Summarizing the season, Coach Katie spoke of how she appreciated the time, effort, sacrifice, and commitment each girl gave to the team and to each other. Katie spoke of how proud she was of each and every girl and how the team went further than anyone thought they could. Katie spoke of how important it was for the girls to remember this season and how they played so well together. Katie praised the girls for being cohesive the entire year and not dividing into cliques which can destroy the heart of a team. Coach Jake spoke of how pleased he was and how proud he was of the team overall and of how each girl contributed.
In the end, Coach Katie encouraged the girls to treasure this magical season and remember each other and the friendships they cultivated.
Coach Katie praised Mary Connolly for her great work with the snack shack. Under Mary's leadership the snack shack apparently made a profit which is yet another reason why Mary is an early favorite on TEAM PARENT for 2011. Right, Mary? :)
Coach Katie thanked Helen Kunhardt for her tireless work as the Team Parent and for allowing Katie to focus on coaching. Helen was on top of every detail and made it so easy for the Redwood families to feel comfortable and confident.
Tom Kunhardt was thanked for his contributions which are behind the scenes but which also comprised a big part of the heart and soul of this team - and of the past four seasons.
For those new families this yearr, please know that Tom and Helen have always contributed to the Giants in some amazing ways. For instance, each girl was presented with a beautiful poster of herself in an action shot. These posters are incredible and shall always be a fine reminder of the girls of their season.
Also, Tom put together a great slideshow with the awesome photos of Mariko Dunne. The best compliment given to Mariko was from Tom who praised Mariko for capturing the personality of each girl. The slide show we enjoyed showed our girls smiling, dancing, playing, and just being high school students enjoying a sport they love. What a great job you did Mariko!
Tom gave each girl a copy of the DVD to go with the poster. You and Helen were awesome Tom! What a combination: Dunne to Kunhardt and Kunhardt to Kunhardt for a KILL!
Tom summed up the feelings of the families by thanking Katie and Jake for their work with the girls. In particular, Tom expressed heartfelt appreciation, respect, and admiration for Katie and for what she does for the girls by being a great role model, teacher, coach, and confidante. As a four-year varsity family, the Kunhardt's have seen a lot in their time and praised Katie and the girls for the very special chemistry they had and important that was to the team's success. Tom's parting words were to the seniors to lead and stay together in focus and commitment.
So, to departing seniors Ursula, Lucia, Sarah, and Niki, and to your wonderful families, thank you for everything you did for the team this year and for the program. You helped keep Redwood Volleyball the top team in the county and you furthered the culture of the team by demonstrating commitment, teamwork, and that never-say-die spirit. We returning families shall miss these great girls and their families.
To the juniors, Liz, Alyssa, Kelsey, LBL, and Michaelah, who were as Katie called 'the glue' of the team, if you are playing club ball this winter, may you continue in your winning ways and come back for your senior year at Redwood with that desire to lead the team to another MCAL title.
And for you Fab Four, DG, Fog, Gers, and Sierra, I wish you the best for your club season. You made history this year for being the first time that four freshmen made a varsity team. Come on back with that same fire that made that history happen.
PS: Thank you Helen and Katie for that nice gift certificate! And special thank you to the girls for their nice card.
PS: Sorry about the typos. One of these days I'll figure out how to get the spell check to work on this site :)