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Thirty one teams were represented at Townsend Harris’s annual Athletic Awards Dinner. The event, held on June 3 at Bruno’s on the Boulevard catering hall, included the usual awards ceremony, in which each team’s coach honored their athletes with four awards: Rookie of the Year, Most Improved Athlete, Coach’s Award, and Most Valuable Player. The night also featured a promposal, a tribute to Keith Hanson, the longtime Athletic Director of Townsend Harris, and of course, dancing.
Mr. Hanson, who has worked at THHS for 26 years, was honored for his dedication and success in moulding the athletics program of THHS. In a quasi-farewell speech, he stressed the importance of staying fit and working hard in both athletics and life. Quoting Derek Jeter, he said, “There may be people who have more talent than you, but there’s no excuse for anyone to work harder than you do.”
Seniors Debra Chan and Minhaj Rahman won the coveted awards of Girls and Boys Athlete of the Year. Both four year, twelve season athletes, Debra and Minhaj have earned a multitude of sports accolades throughout their high school careers.
Debra, who previously made the headlines as NY1’s Scholar Athlete of the Week, walked away with MVP awards in softball and basketball. She said, “It felt rewarding being recognized for the hard work and dedication that I put into the sports that I played throughout my high school career.
Minhaj, a member of the boys soccer and track team, won an MVP award in outdoor track. His qualification for the national championships in the hammer throw topped his long list of athletic achievements.
In addition to the awards, both athletes received an Adidas backpack and a Garmin Vivofit watch to commemorate their accomplishments.
Many of THHS’ more versatile athletes won multiple awards. Sophomore Alexis Sarabia collected MVP awards in girls wrestling and swimming; senior Caleb Hong, for the boys volleyball and badminton teams; and senior Jason Nieh, for boys basketball and badminton as well as the Coach’s Award for boys volleyball.
Junior Tiarnan Mathers won Coach’s Awards for boys soccer and basketball. On winning an award, he professed, “It’s great to know that you are acknowledged for the hard work you put into your athletics rather than your academics for once, which is why the awards are very important to the athletes.”
The conclusion of the award ceremony commenced the food and dancing. However, before everyone took to the dance floor, senior Yash Sharma, captain of the boys track team and cross country MVP, interrupted the event with a promposal to senior Kari Iocalano. After a brief, heartfelt speech, an immediate “yes” from Kari drew applause from the crowd of faculty and students.
Shortly thereafter, the athletes began dancing to a mix of songs ranging from Walk the Moon’s “Shut Up and Dance with Me” to classics like Soulja Boy’s “Crank Dat.” The dancing became so fervent that a few bulbs on the dance floor’s chandelier broke. Nevertheless, the athletes were able to enjoy a night filled with fun and friends as the school year winded down.