Soccer team creates Knoop award
This spring, Parkite Mike Stevens had plenty to be proud of as a father. His son Austen, was a member of the 3A Utah High School State Championship Team and the Park City High School student received numerous awards as one of the top soccer players in the state, including a some that even called him the best player in Utah, but Stevens, along with some other soccer parents, still wanted to make sure that another father’s son was remembered among all of the celebration and excitement.
To that end, he contacted Park City head soccer coach Caro Caro and convinced him to add another postseason award to the usual roster of recognitions. And so, the Matt Knoop Memorial Award for Leadership was born. Knoop, who was killed this past April after being hit by a car while serving his LDS mission in Brazil, was a key member of the 2006 championship team and was a friend, mentor and leader to many of the players still on the high school team. After Knoop’s death, the players decided to dedicate their season to him, bearing Knoop’s No. 13 on their game-day gear and wearing hand-made T-shirts saying, "Rest in Peace." After winning the state title, it was only fitting to dedicate an award in his honor. The award is given to a senior who has demonstrated the same leadership skills that Knoop possessed when he was on the team.
"We had to finish with how we started," Caro explained. "This season was such an emotional rollercoaster."
The team learned of Knoop’s death during a late regular season game, and Caro said that many of his starters were so distraught in that game they couldn’t even play. After that, the team attended the funeral and then had a number of key playoff games.
Caro decided to put the award recipient to a team-wide vote, with Murray Hawker receiving the nod as the inaugural winner.
"They all have the same feeling about him," Caro said. "Any team would like to have him someone with his leadership. I was not surprised by his selection.
Caro said that Hawker worked very hard throughout the season and encouraged his teammates to take practice seriously.
"From the very beginning, he showed the personality of a leader," Caro said. "He didn’t mess around. He was respectful. He was the most consistent of them all."
Hawker was given a trophy and in the future, each year’s winner will be added to at plaque at the high school. The Knoop family was told about the award, but were not asked to attend, since their son’s death was so recent.
The team also voted for the Player’s Choice Award, which went to the athlete deemed to be the most valuable on the team. Stevens received that award and a number of other Park City seniors also walked away with plaques and trophies awarded by the team. Tyler Thomas, whose penalty kick in double overtime sealed the state championship crown for the Miners, won the Relentless Award. Other award recipients included Bryan Johnson Provision Ward, Ian Steele Spirit Award, Blake McCauley Diligence award, Soren Urry- Versatility Award, Robby Thorpe Team Player Award and Jacob Sirianni with the Most Inspirational Player Award.
"Off the field, he is always quiet, but in the game, he inspires everybody," Caro said.
Caro also highlighted Wes Uribe, who took home the Coach’s Award. Caro said from the first time he met Uribe, he was anxious to improve and learn from the coaching staff. Other seniors received certificates of recognition.
"He came up to me and said, ‘Put me wherever you need help,’" Caro said. "That was my first encounter with him, ever."
Caro also went away from this season with some hardware of his own, winning the Coach of the Year Award from the Utah High School Activities Association. Caro reflected on the year that included hard work to not only win games but to reestablish the school’s reputation after fines and suspensions were given to Park City players last season.
"It was a trip," Caro said. "Having so much fun and working so hard with these guys."
Tommy Martin, Michael Glenn, Alex Johnson and Tucker Sheppard all received post-season awards from various organizations.
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