Varsity athletes celebrated at the Fall Athletic Awards

The school gathered to commend honored athletes who demonstrated great spirit, talent and hard work, including two Gold Medal Award recipients, Kelly R. Jannsen '23 and Sydney G. Grossman '23.

On a quintessential Northeast Ohio autumn day, our community gathered in the Chapel to celebrate a successful fall athletic season for the Pioneers. 

Director of Athletics Pete Hutchins kicked off the program by acknowledging the coaches, trainers, parents, volunteers, faculty and staff (especially the dining hall staff whose flexibility nourishes our athletes and the maintenance crew who keep our fields play-ready!), team managers and, most importantly, the athletes who make every athletic season at Western Reserve Academy possible. 

Coaches and athletes from Girls Tennis, Golf, Boys Cross Country, Girls Cross Country, Boys Soccer, Girls Soccer, Girls Volleyball, Field Hockey and their many fans filled the pews to celebrate on this beautiful afternoon. Highlights from each of the eight teams were shared — the fine-tuning of games, the growth and improvement, the personal bests. The WRA Boys Soccer team was voted one of the top 25 high school teams in the United States and the strong finishes despite health, weather, injury (and other challenges out of their control) for Girls Soccer, Field Hockey and Cross Country cannot be ignored. 

The themes were consistent no matter the sport, the qualities describing standout players shared across teams. Words like “consistency,” “coachability,” “dedication.” Phrases such as  “a player of action,” “an unwavering resolution to succeed” and “the ability to maintain a positive attitude.” Players were described as the “heart of the team,” “the glue” or “the backbone.” The fall 2022 award winners join an honorable legacy of athletes at Reserve, recognized for their individual contributions to the collective success. They are the ultimate team players.

In addition to MVP, MIP, Spirit Awards and Coach’s Awards, a few special named awards were bestowed upon fall student-athletes. For Field Hockey, the Aylie Fifer Spirit Award went to Mya L. Kenny ’24 and the Marie Fiedler MVP Award went to Gabrielle A. Hrivnak ’23 who had never before picked up a field hockey stick! Brendan P. Gallagher ’23 earned the James O. Tavenner, Jr. MVP Award, and Andrew F. Petras ’23 the William F. Borges III Spirit Award for Golf. In Boys Soccer, Pedro L. Vieira ’23 was the first player in the history of the J. Ashton Graham Spirit Award to earn the honor twice and Ty D. Mikula ’23 joined the esteemed list of recipients of the John Breuker, Jr. Coach’s Award.

In total, 29 Pioneers were awarded plaques of special recognition by their coaches. Their shared story is one of perseverance, commitment and attitude — stories of training over the summer, waking early to hit the gym and countless drills above and beyond organized practices. 

The Western Reserve Academy Gold Medal Award, the school’s highest athletic honor first bestowed during the 1951-52 school year, was awarded to two athletes who, over 70 years later, are forever connected to this legacy by their commitment to sport. Sydney G. Grossman ’23, the first hitter ever to receive the Gold Medal, was described as a “swiss army knife” of a volleyball player, the “best player seen in the last 15 years” and was consistently named by her teammates as the athlete who made them better. Kelly R. Janssen ’23 became the 27th Boys Soccer Gold Medal recipient, with a record of 38 and eight over the course of his three years, as the team’s leading scorer with 21 goals and seven assists in 2021, two-time Tri-County Soccer League Champion, Two-Time Tri-County First Team Selection, named 2022 Player of the Year (and the list goes on).

The Fall Athletic Awards served as the perfect end cap to a wonderful season. It was our honor to celebrate both the individual and collective impact of these players and teams. Congratulations to our fall student-athletes! See the full list of awardees here.