While several players could not show up for various reasons, including college visits and early summer vacations for seniors, a great number of young stars on the rise were on hand to accept MVP and Most Improved Player awards, among other items of recognition from their respective coaches.
“When it was James Monroe High School, we would hold a big event every year where we would give out trophies to the student athletes,” noted Mike Turo, the school’s athletic director, adding that coaches Mike Logan and Kimberly Mitchell reinstated the ceremony to unite students from different schools at the campus.
Nigel Thompson, the school’s boys varsity basketball coach, hopes to see the event grow even more next season. “We got this off the ground late this year, but hopefully we can get this to the point where we can honor the athletes in the way they do at Lehman,” said Thompson, who teaches at Lehman and coaches its cricket team this season. “The players really deserve it.”
Thompson honored his three seniors, Daniel Odiase, Stanley Brooks and Marcus Razor, but handed out the Most Improved Player award to Christopher Salgado and the MVP award to Dennis Hawkins, a junior who came out of nowhere to help push Monroe to amazing victories over Wings and Eagle Academy.
“Our seniors did a great job this year, but I thought we struggled a lot before Dennis became eligible to play,” noted Thompson. “He helped the team a lot. It was almost an immediate turnaround. And I am hopeful, that if he remains eligible, he can be a big contributor to the team next year.”
One by one, players from different teams accepted their awards, until another unsung hero was honored.
Will Negron, the director of operations, received an award honoring his dedication to the school and its sports programs.
“He works around the clock,” said Thompson. “He’s always putting in extra effort. I can’t think of anyone who does it better.”
Presented the award by PSAL principal Dr. Ramon Namnun, Negron was honored for his school work and after hours efforts in getting media to various sporting events and in making sure security was on hand at all times to keep students from Monroe and its visiting schools safe before, during and after the games.
“I couldn’t believe it,” said Negron. “I was completely baffled. I never expected it, but I am very thankful to be recognized.
“But I don’t do this for the accolades,” he added. “I work hard because of my love for this game, the school and the students. Seeing these kids get the recognition they deserve, and go on to make a better life for themselves makes it all worthwhile.”