NORWICH – On Thursday evening, the Norwich Athletic Department recognized 43 senior student-athletes for the 2022 athletic awards ceremony. This event was held in the NHS cafeteria where the athletes sat together, including the baseball team at a table while the remaining athletes were mixed about. Athletic Director Joe Alger opened the ceremony by thanking everyone involved in Norwich Athletics and the community before announcing the guest speaker of the evening.
Meghan Komendarek, a member of the class of 2017, returned home as the ceremony’s guest speaker. Komendarek was a three-sport athlete at Norwich High School where she participated in Volleyball, Basketball, and Track and Field. After graduating, she attended Mercyhurst University in Pennsylvania, where she studied early childhood education with a dual major in special education and played basketball. She is currently continuing her education in Mercyhurst’s graduate program.
Komendarek gave an emotional yet uplifting speech. Being one step away from having a plan ahead of her, she shared the story of being involved in a serious car crash that left her without a thumb on her left hand. While the doctors worried about her health, she only wanted to know if she could still play basketball. All they said was that it was “possible.” Still she overcame challenges, like relearning how to dribble a basketball,and adversity to go back onto the court for her last season. She also left the athletes with a powerful message of how opportunities are endless and “if it’s possible, you are capable.”
After that standing-ovation speech, Athletic Coordinator Rich Turnbull introduced each senior athlete and handed out awards. “The moment you’ve been waiting for,” he exclaimed. In order to receive a plaque, each athlete had to earn three varsity letters in prior seasons, which everyone did.
To conclude the ceremony, special awards were handed out. The Section IV Character Counts Award originally goes to two juniors every year but also recognizes seniors. This year, Shakira Alexander won the female athlete award for her outstanding performance on the girls track and field team this season. For the males, Zach Russell received honors with his participation on the basketball and track and field team.
The two scholar athletes, who held the highest grade point average were Lauren Squires and Nolan Reid. Squires participated in Volleyball while Reid starred on the track and field team.
Lastly, the Outstanding Male and Female athletes were announced, where coaches each submitted a vote. For his tremendous performance in three sports for Norwich (football, basketball, and baseball), Torin Lawrence received the male award. Emily Evans, who was outstanding for the girls basketball team, earned female athlete of the year.
After all his hard work and dedication to Norwich Athletics, Rhett Genung was given a special certificate of his own “for going above and beyond the scenes”. He records content at numerous athletic events and uploads them to the Norwich Athletic Youtube page. He also remasters archive footage. His most recent work was a tribute video for the Norwich Unified Basketball team before recording the athletic awards ceremony.
Congratulations to all the senior student-athletes and best of luck in all future endeavors.
“Once a Tornado, Always a Tornado,” Joe Alger said.