Published on December 3rd, 2017 | by Staples Soccer0
Honors, Speeches Highlight ’17 Soccer Banquet
The last major event of the 2017 season — the 59th annual Staples boys soccer banquet — was held tonight. It was one of the biggest — and best — ever.
Over 200 players, parents, siblings and friends honored the varsity, reserve and freshman teams. The Norwalk Inn event included heartfelt speeches by coaches and captains, introductions of players, and a number of awards.
Head coach Dan Woog noted the evening’s several themes. There was sadness that the varsity team was together for the last time; pride in playing right alongside the best teams in the state; satisfaction of upholding the “Staples standard”; joy in tremendous accomplishments, and eagerness in looking ahead to 2018. Throughout it all, Woog talked about the 2017 team’s commitment to honoring their legacy.
The 2 Block “S”s went to seniors Chris Martenson and Timmy Liles.
In a vote by teammates, Martenson won the Most Valuable Player Award. Woog cited the 3-year varsity defender and All-FCIAC first team selection for his toughness, tenacity, and uncanny ability to get the Wreckers out of any dangerous situation.
Liles received the Most Improved Player Award. Woog noted that the midfielder — also a 3-year varsity player — worked extremely hard last season to develop a strong, accurate shot, and to take opponents on with confidence and speed.
The Alumni Award — given to a player who exemplifies “the values that have been the foundation of the Staples program since its inception” — went to Ryan Fincher. Woog said that the defender — whose father was also a Staples soccer player — truly understood and epitomized the link that binds generations of Wreckers together.
The Jeff Lea Award — presented to an adult for “long, enthusiastic and meritorious service to the Staples boys soccer program” — went to Liam Bohonnon. The 2008 grad has spent several summers with the returning varsity players on their summer trip. He volunteers his time as “a big brother, a great story teller, a problem solver, and someone who is really fun to be around,” Woog said.
The evening included strong speeches by freshman co-captains Mike Bond and Jack Douglas, and reserve captains Daniel Leaf and Jake Porter.
Varsity captains Martenson and Matt Engler spoke insightfully about their experiences in the Staples program. Coaches Kurt Dasbach, Chris O’Dell, Tom Henske, Nicky Hoberman, Russell Oost-Lievense and Reilly Lynch also spoke powerfully.
A superb slide show, created by Alan Frost, was another highlight of the evening. Click here to see it!
Two more important announcements were made. Martenson passed #15 — worn by Preston Hirten ’07, symbolizing tenacious play, passion for soccer and deep commitment to the Staples program — to Gabe Baltierra. Martenson offered a heartfelt speech about Preston, and the importance of the #15 tradition.
Baltierra earned another honor: He and Nick Ambrose have been chosen as co-captains for the 2018 team. Woog praised the duo, and said, “they will lead our program well.”
A non-varsity award was presented by Oost-Lievense. Lucas Dimyan and Eli Kogan were dual recipients of the Stephen Martin Award. It is presented annually to a freshman player or players who best epitomize Steve’s “special spirit, by combining the desire to excel with the willingness to work and the eagerness to share.” He also singled out George Smith for special mention.
Reserves coach Hoberman cited Wilson Daniels and Rob Diorio for their exceptionally strong play.
Woog also announced that final collections are coming in in the memory of Jon Walker ’88. This year, varsity players solicited pledges based on the number of goals scored. The Wreckers will soon make a donation in Walker’s name to an ALS organization.