Upper School Athletic Awards Honors Talented Student-Athletes

At last week's Upper School Awards Ceremony, five student-athletes who have upheld the ideals of the St. Margaret's athletic program were honored in front of their peers.

Seniors Charlie Smith and Elise Talley were the recipients of The CIF Scholar-Athlete Award. The award is presented to one female and one male who have demonstrated the highest level of combined academic, athletic and extra-curricular achievement while also maintaining a minimum unweighted 3.5-grade point average during their sophomore, junior and senior years. This award is the highest individual honor bestowed upon scholar athletes by the CIF Southern Section.

Seniors Cameron Manor and Charlie Smith were presented with the John Balak Award. The award, which was first awarded in 1994 in commemoration of one of the most valued members of the St. Margaret's community and ardent supporter of St. Margaret's athletic programs, John Balak. John's friendly smile and encouraging word will forever be etched in the minds of the athletes who were fortunate enough to know him. The recipient of this award is the person that the coaches of St. Margaret's feel best emulates the life and perspective of this fine man.

The 2017 Athlete of the Year Awards, which are voted on by the St. Margaret's coaching staff, counts among the recipients some of the most talented athletes to ever compete for St. Margaret's. Junior Ryan Cragun and sophomore Julia Martin were awarded this honor based on the criteria of ability, work ethic, attitude, sportsmanship, contribution, versatility, leadership, production and school spirit.

Below follows the transcripts of the award presentations:

Cameron Manor - 2017 Female John Balak Award

Good Morning.

My name is Jenny Moseley, and I am honored to present Cameron Manor the John Balak Award. The Balak award recognizes an athlete who best emulates the life of John Balak: an ardent supporter of the athletic program; a friendly, encouraging face on campus; and a person of integrity.

For four seasons, Cameron Manor has led the Lady Tartan Lacrosse Team. She has led with her hard-earned talent; she has led with quiet disposition; she has led with inspirational play; she has led with kindness.

On the field, Cameron has led the team in possessions, scoring, and defensive turnovers throughout her career. Cameron is dependable and is able to execute under immense pressure. More significant than statistics or memorable plays, however, Cameron is a reliable teammate. Elected as both a junior and senior captain, Cameron is committed to positive leadership, trustworthiness, and a passion to play. When Cameron is having an off day, you see her continue to work hard supporting teammates, fighting for every next play, and never giving up. Cameron is inspiring, hardworking, and someone to admire.

Next year, Cameron will attend the United States Military Academy, paving the way for future St. Margaret’s alumna who joins the Army. Cameron, we congratulate you on this award and wish you the best of luck in future endeavors.

Charlie Smith - 2017 Male John Balak Award

Most of us know the story of Charlie Smith, but few have heard it from him. Humble and kind, Charlie has always let his actions do the talking. It is a method of leadership so effective that he is nearing superhero status at the school.

On Wednesday, Charlie won the Jim Valentine Courage Award from the Orange County Youth Sports Foundation, a coveted award given to the most inspiring athletes in the county.

While creating the narrative for that nomination, I had the pleasure of sitting with his mother as she told the story of his battle with cancer. It was the first time that I truly understood the timeline of how the illness, academics and athletics intersected in the life of this extraordinary young man. The adversity fueled his determination, and through the entire process, he never missed a beat.

We have watched countless athletes pick themselves up, dust off, and get back to work because “that’s what Charlie would do.” He forms our culture, holds us accountable, and make us believe we can do things once thought impossible. It is abnormal for someone his age to have that depth of influence, and when you thank him for it, he gives you a sheepish smile and passes credit to someone else.

There is not a person on our campus, student or adult, that is more respected than Charlie Smith and it’s an honor to name him as the 2017 Balak Award Winner.

Ryan Cragun - 2017 Male Athlete of the Year

As a football player, he is one of the most respected players on the team. This was evident in the pregame team topic talk where a story was told by a player or coach and the person from that story exemplified a particular character trait. Each week a different character trait was discussed. Following the story, each player and coach would stand up and discuss a player on the team that most exemplified the characteristic featured in the story. Each week, his name was mentioned by numerous players and coaches. He comes to each and every practice with the desire to get better and make his teammates better. He is a coach’s player. He works hard, and he is a leader, he takes the coaching, and never makes excuses.

As a basketball player, he is just a tremendous athlete, a real competitor, and he really solidified the point guard position this year. However, more importantly, he provided stability, toughness, and consistency handling the ball, defending the other team’s better players, and leading by example.

In an effort to increase his speed, he joined the Track team this year running in the 4x100 relay, the 100, the 200, and also throwing the shotput. He brought to the Track team the same competitiveness and desire to excel as he did in his other two sports. He has worked extremely hard in the weight room on his own time to raise his level of play by getting stronger and faster. Because of his character, commitment to excellence, and high level of athletic performance in three different sports, he is being highly recruited to some of the finest schools in the nation.

Julia Martin - 2017 Female Athlete of the Year

For the 2017 St. Margaret's Female Athlete of the Year, everything was planned. Careful calculations went into the training required to play two sports at once. Opportunities were evaluated, and a methodical path was plotted. The result was a young lady that became the starting libero on the volleyball team, a state finalist in cross country, and a three-time Academy League Track Champion...all in the same meet.

What wasn't planned was last Saturday. In her first race of the day she lined-up next to the reigning national cross country champion, and went out at school record pace. With a trip to the CIF Finals well in her grasp, she collapsed in the final 100m of the mile.

As I rushed to the other side of the track she began to crawl; unwavering in her resolve to finish what she started. Bloodied and bruised, she covered the final 100m on her hand and knees, and provided a packed stadium with one of the most compelling displays of courage imaginable. Most thought it was an exhausted athlete simply trying to finish, but once she crossed the finish line, it became instantly clear to the medical staff that she had a broken leg.

This award was voted on by the Athletic Department staff 3 days prior to this incident, and although nobody questioned her qualifications, the selection was unequivocally validated in one courageous decision to simply finish what she started.

The 2017 St. Margaret's Female Athlete of the Year is Julia Martin.
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