The annual Varsity Athletic Block L was held on Wednesday, June 7, in the Panebaker Auditorium at Liberty High School. The event began at 6:00 p.m. with a welcoming speech from Athletic Director Kurt Buddenhagen and the singing of the National Anthem by Coach Ralph Bressler. Coaches then presented the awards for the fall sports followed by the letters for all one sport athletes. The winter awards were then announced and the letters for two sport athletes were distributed. The coaches for the spring sports then called up their award winners and the three sport athletes received their certificates.
During the spring awards a new award was announced in memory of Peter Koval. Coach Ralph Bressler, the head Boys Spring Track Coach presented the award to Senior Nicholas Skindzier, a member of the spring track team. Coach Bressler provided this explanation of the award.
“Peter was a member of the Liberty Cross Country and Track and Field teams. He was a thrower and his distances in shot put and discus were average. One day Peter tried throwing the javelin and found he was good at it. He understood the physics of throwing the javelin. He studied every aspect of the technique: the run up, the footwork, the release. He set a school record and went on to teach others how to throw. Peter threw the javelin in college at Division I Leigh University. Whenever he returned from college he would stop by to help members of the team. Peter also ran cross country. Even though running wasn’t nearly as much fun as throwing a javelin he put in the same effort. He always gave everything he had and never complained. He was a team player. During Peter’s senior year the division meet was at Liberty and we had to compete against stacked teams O’Neill and Sullivan West. I lined the runners up and fired the gun. Peter took the lead and ran like he was running a half mile race instead of three miles. Other runners took off after him. I wondered what he was doing and after about half a mile Peter began to jog. He finished dead last but by then I had an idea of why he had gone out so fast. I asked Peter to explain and he said ‘Coach, I knew I couldn’t score for the team but I thought maybe I could tire some of them out.’ We lost by a few points to O’Neill but beat Sullivan West. I am convinced Peter’s efforts made a difference.”
“Peter died this spring in a car accident in Pennsylvania. Anyone who knew Peter will never forget his smile and his sense of humor. Anyone who was on a team with Peter will never forget it was always all about the team. This award is being given for the first time this year but will be one of the awards given to a Senior athlete every year from now on. The award reads “Team above Self” and is given to a Senior track and field athlete who best exhibits this motto.”
The next presentations were the Special Recognition Awards sponsored by families or community organizations in memory of former Liberty athletes. These awards were followed by the recognition of two Liberty athletes, Olivia Racette and Dara Schiff, who participated in four sports during the three seasons. These athletes were able to juggle two sports during one season and still maintain the academic standards required of Liberty student-athletes.
The evening culminated with the Senior Awards. Maria Symanski and Joseph Decker were acknowledged as the Times Herald-Record Student Athletes for Liberty. The Elizabeth “Betty” Totten Award was presented by the Booster Club to Nicole Keyes and Joseph Decker. Jarek Krebs and Leanna Zilles were given the Liberty Rotary Club Perseverance Award. The final award of the night was the Tom Kelly Award for Outstanding Female and Male Athlete. These awards were presented to Evelyn Barragan and Joshwa Benjamin.