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Jose GarciaMultimedia Journalist/Historian firstname.lastname@example.org
Lots of memorable moments during AIA Award LuncheonMay 20, 2013
Queen Creek High’s Carson Jones and one of his best friends, Chy Johnson, received a standing ovation.
Desert Christian and Red Mountain were each awarded the biggest prize of the day.
Bruce Cooper flashed the beaming smile we’ve come to expect and love.
Those were some of the highlights of Monday’s 11th annual Champions Awards Luncheon hosted by the Arizona Interscholastic Association at University of Phoenix Stadium. The mood was celebratory, but a couple of minutes also were dedicated to a high school sports administrator, Higley Unified School District athletic director Art Wagner, and a former high school athlete, firefighter Brad Harper, who recently passed away.
At the start of Monday’s luncheon, the AIA’s executive director, Dr. Harold Slemmer, asked for a moment of silence to honor Wagner, a very likeable sports administrator who began his high school career in Arizona as a security guard at McClintock High School. Harper helped Northwest Christian win a basketball title in 2008 and was an assistant coach at Joy Christian this season.
Joy Christian’s athletic director Alan Boelter first met Harper when Boelter was the AD at Northwest Christian. When he accepted the 1A Conference Overall Excellence Award Monday for his school, Boelter took time during his speech to acknowledge the loss of Harper, a Phoenix firefighter who died Saturday while on duty.
“An unbelievable man,” said Boelter of Harper. “Honesty. Integrity. He was a leader in his community.”
Another touching moment during the luncheon occurred when Jones, the starting quarterback on Queen Creek’s 2012-13 Division III championship team, walked on stage with Johnson.
Johnson is a 16-year-old student with a mental disorder who was being bullied. But Jones recruited his teammates to protect Johnson, allowing Johnson’s smile return.
After showing a TV news clip of Jones’ heroics, Jones was presented with the Section 7 National Federation of High Schools Spirit of Sport Award.
Johnson joined Jones on stage as they were warmly saluted during Monday’s event.
“It’s OK,” said Johnson about being on stage. “I was a little nervous.”
Like Johnson, Cooper’s smile also lid up the room Monday.
Cooper received the AIA’s Skip Bryant Media Award. The beloved Channel 12 sports anchor has been one of the strongest advocates of Arizona’s high schools.
“High school sports is definitely a passion of mine,” said Cooper during his speech.
The recipients of this year’s Directors’ Cup Awards, the highest honor the AIA bestowed Monday, went to 1-3A recipient Desert Christian and 4-5A recipient Red Mountain.
The Cups are given to the programs that excelled on the field and in the classroom.
Tony Komadina Girls Award
1-3A River Valley
4-5A Mountain Ridge
Special Olympics Unified Sports Nick Sundberg Award
Partner recipient: Brianna Leavitt, Gila Ridge High.
Athlete recipient: Ricky Schrecengost, Lake Havasu High.
Joy Christian, 1A conference
Pusch Ridge, 2A
Fountain Hills, 3A
Catalina Foothills, 4A
Xavier Prep, 5A
AIA Champions Award
Special Olympics Arizona Interscholastic Association
1-3A Scholar Activity Award
Boy finalists: Tyler Martis, Blue Ridge. Michael Meersman, Desert Christian.
Girl finalists: Breanne Self, Desert Christian. Cecilia Trevino, River Valley.
4-5A Scholar Activity Award
Boys winner: Christopher Harvey, Notre Dame.
Girl finalists: Lindsey Hood, Sabino. Kyle Hrabe, Desert Vista. Angela Zhang, Mesa Mt. View.
1-3A Scholar Athlete Award
Boy finalists: Jacob Fields, Joseph City. Dennis Hull, Miami.
Girl finalists: Alexis Edwards, Joseph City. Sarah MacDonald, Pusch Ridge.
4-5A Scholar Athlete Award
Boy finalists: Christopher Harvey, Notre Dame. Cole Preston, Desert Vista. Michael Wrona, Lake Havasu.
Girl finalists: Brittany Goldberg, Lake Havasu. Mally McGarity, Marana. Courtney Spalt, Sabino.
Leadership in Girls Athletics Award
Toni Corona, Duncan
Administrator of the Year Award
Dr. Anna Battle, Desert Vista
Coach of the Year Award
1-3A Iram Alday, Desert Christian
4-5A Eric Magana, Higley.
Student of the Year Award
Boys: Dennis Hull, Miami.
Girls: Anne Straneva, Xavier.
National Federation of High Schools Speech and Debate Award
Kevin Berlat, Central.