Times honors best of the best for fall sports season
(Times photo - Donovan Quintero)
By Sunnie Clahchischiligi
Editor's note: To purchase a copy of any published photos, call Navajo Times at 928-871-1130. For more photos, pick up a Navajo Times.
SHIPROCK, N.M., Dec. 12, 2013
(Times photos - Donovan Quintero)
High school athletes who excelled in football, volleyball, cross-country and soccer were all awarded at the ceremony held at the Phil Thomas Performing Arts Center in Shiprock.
Hundreds of local and distant athletes attended the two-and-a-half-hour long ceremony that was complete with a photo session, guest speaker and award presentation.
Navajo Prep head coach Roderick Denetso was this year's guess speaker.
In his speech, Denetso shared his life story with the student athletes and encouraged them to do more than what is expected.
He also shared his three keys to success.
Denetso who grew up in Ganado, Ariz., earned a college scholarship to play for Northwestern Oklahoma State University and later transferred to Arizona State University in the late 90s.
He also played professional European football.
He told the audience that he never let the fact that he was a minority get in the way of his dreams of playing college football.
"I was blessed because of hard work, commitment and dedication," Denetso said. "If you really want to do what you really want to do then you've got to commit, sacrifice and dedicate yourself, that's what it takes."
Denetso was also selected as the co-football coach of the year along with Hopi coach Steve Saban. As a coach, he's coached the Navajo Prep football team to back-to-back district 1-2A championship titles and coached the first all-Native American team to get past the first round of the football state championships.
A number of the players he's coached were selected for the All-Star team including junior quarterback Tyler Sorenson, who was selected as co-football player of the year along with Redmond Delmar from Monument Valley.
Sorenson said he felt he was deserving of the award because of the effort he put into practices and because of the encouragement he received from his coach.
"During the off season I put in all this effort and it feels like this is what I deserve," he said. "My coach felt that I really did that (played the position of quarterback) great and just being a leader out in the field."
For girls cross-country, Daangoiina Haven, a sophomore runner for Ganado High and Navajo Pine's Annoesika Laughlin were named female runners of the year. Haven was ranked 10th in Division III going into the Arizona state cross-country meet. She finished second overall with a time of 18:58.
"Every week or so we always have morning practices and within that time we have to do our heel workout …" she said. "I don't think I missed a day of practice."
This year's coaches of the year for cross-country were Hopi's Rick Baker and Zuni coach Chris Carroll.
The co-male runners of the year were Niles Thomas from Miyamura and Jeffrey Miller from Page. Thomas, a sophomore, said he has always wanted to win the award and was glad to see his hard work finally paid off.
"I feel good about this, that I won this, because last year I wanted to win it too but this year is my year …" he said. "I feel I deserve it because I worked hard all season, went to practice every day, barely missed practice. I did good at the meets and at state, finished in top three at state and this tops off the season to be runner of the year."
In volleyball, Piedra Vista sophomore Autumn Begay and Tuba City's Kamia Yazzie were selected as players of the year.
Volleyball head coaches Merle Beard from Shonto Prep and Newcomb's Ramona Shepherd were selected as coaches of the year. Shepherd coached her team to a 13-1 record and state championship appearance, which might have been the teams first in school history.
"What I hope is that the kids at Newcomb realize is that they're 225 kids in the middle of nowhere, in the middle of the highway and they're such good kids," she said. "What I've done this year is to let the kids know that it doesn't need to end here. It's not going to end here. I want the kids to make history a little bit."
For the rest of the fall sports all-star list check out www.navajotimes.com.
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