THHS Athletics Awards Dinner and Dance returns for the first time since 2019

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The 36th annual Sports Awards, a tradition that has been on hold since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, will return on Monday, June 13 at Douglaston Manor.  In the ceremony, awards are given to the top athletes of each team.  Athletes can earn awards including “Most Improved,” “Rookie of the Year,”  “Most Outstanding Female/Male Athlete,” and “Outstanding Academic Average.” This year’s sports awards comes with particular importance as senior athletes have not attended this ceremony since 2019, and junior to freshman grades have never attended. 

Athletic Director and Varsity Girls’ Basketball and Boys’ Volleyball Coach, Lauren Caiaccia, said, “The return to PSAL sports after the pandemic season has been a very exhausting and rewarding process. Part of this had been to recognize the hard work, collaboration and efforts of our students athletes as well as our dedicated coaching staff. The athletic awards dinner and dance is a culminating event to help us recognize all of these efforts.” 

Junior Aissatou Lam, a varsity athlete in volleyball, basketball, and softball, said, “I am really excited about going to Sports Awards because it’ll be a great environment for reconnection with teammates from previous seasons as well as athletes from different sports,” Aissatou also said, “I have met so many people that I wouldn’t have encountered otherwise and developed friendships that I will continue to cherish for years to come.”

THHS student-athletes also reflected on how the 2021-2022 sports seasons have affected them. 

Freshman Jasmyn Pillay, a varsity athelte in swim and handball, said, “Initially, I had just joined swimming because I had been swimming my whole life, but never did I think it would be such an amazing experience; I’m counting down the days till the next season starts.” Sophomore Chloe Mau, a varsity volleyball athlete, said, “sports are important because they bring people together through long practices and tournaments, through winning and losing. During the volleyball season, each win and loss brought us closer.” Freshman Vivian Oksenhendler, a varsity softball athlete, said, “It provides student athletes with new opportunities to make friends and have new experiences. The way PSAL is designed allows for competition which is overall something to love.”

Many  senior athletes reflected on how  this year’s Athletics Awards provides a long awaited ending to a turbulent high school career. Senior Brandon Jaquez, a varsity basketball and baseball athlete, said, “My last Sports  Awards was in my freshman year so it is nice to see everything come full circle. The PSAL association and school sports have always been a big part of my life since before elementary school. It allows me to dedicate time to what I love the most: staying active.”

Senior Emily Blickhahn, a varsity volleyball, basketball, and softball athlete, also said, “We haven’t had a sports awards event since I was a freshman, due to the pandemic, so it will be a nice way to close out my senior year. Last time I attended, it was a lot of fun to reminisce on all the time we spent over the seasons. I look forward to doing that one last time this year.” 

Aaron Luu, varsity volleyball athlete, said, “I’m glad the school chose to run the dinner again and send the senior class off with something to remember!”

The juniors to freshmen grades also expressed their excitement to attend their first ceremony.  

Sophomore Audrey Lin, varsity basketball and flag football athlete, said, “Having my first Sports Awards as a sophomore is nice because I know that there is still time to go, unlike upperclassmen who missed out on sports awards due to Covid.” Freshman Loise Arcega, a varsity basketball athlete, said, “My first year being on a THHS sports team was honestly really fun because it felt more like a family than a team. This is my first time going to the sports awards and i’m really excited seeing all of the other sports come together.”

On planning the Athletic Awards after a 3-year pause Ms. Caiaccia said, “The Athletics Awards Dinner and Dance takes much coordination. However, it is all worth it. I am most excited to see the students showcase themselves and to witness the smiles, pictures, and to watch the coaches enjoy a different event with their athletes outside of practice and games.” 

Ms. Caiaccia also said, “Our athletics program is a huge success and our program is absolutely phenomenal, and the athletics dinner is where we are able to showcase and celebrate everyone’s hard work and dedication. My main words of advice [to our student-athletes] are to keep working hard, chase your dreams, and to stay resilient.”