If someone were to ask you, what does the words "Athlete Of The Year" mean to you, what would you say? I am sure that MOST people would imagine that an athlete of the year would be a star athlete of some kind: Michael Jordan, Dwayne Wade, or someone along those lines.
If I were asked, I would have probably thought the same thing. Yet, 20+ years ago, I was awarded the "Athlete Of The Year" award by my high school. It was a great way to cap my athletic career and senior year in high school.
For quite a time after receiving the award, I remember telling a friend that I didn't feel like I deserved the award. After all, from the standpoint of athletic accomplishments, I was not a stand out athlete in either of the sports I participated in. It took my friend sometime to convince me that I was deserving of the award. After all, there were some reason it was given to me.
Recently, with the 20th Anniversary of my high school graduation passing, I thought about the Athlete Of The Year award and what it meant to me. I am quite proud of the award as it not only represented my time athletically in high school but also the great senior year I had. I became friends with someone I would grow close to and I had a great academic year as well.
Additionally, I decided to look up what criteria is used to determine an "Athlete Of The Year". Interestingly, unlike Most Valuable Player awards, athletic accomplishments isn't necessarily a requirement. Some of the criteria included leadership, commitment to the team and academic performance.
Looking back, I see WHY I was given the award:
I was captain for one my teams and a three year vet on my other team.
I showed complete dedication to both my teams and provided a good example. This is just not me bragging as both my teams gave me the "Coaches Award" during my senior year.
I was NOT a good student throughout my high school career and yet I had a 3.2 or above GPA throughout my senior year.
I was a volunteer basketball coach for my old grammar school.
It's funny how someone's perspective changes over the years. I don't talk much about an award I got 20 years ago. However, besides my high school and college diplomas, I put my Athlete Of The Year award as one of the items I am most proud of.
I also see a trend in all of my awards. Besides my Most Improved Player award, all my other awards involved me being a good example to others (Two Coaches Awards, Four Most Inspirational Player awards). I definitely try (and don't always succeed) in being a good example to people young and old.
It is good that I have been recognized for it, though I have never asked for it.