It may not be unique for this sixth annual NTSPY Awards, but the finalists for Multi-Sport Athlete of the Year stood out as exceptional battles for our appointed committee that decided this year’s winners which were announced at Tuesday’s program at Eastside Christian Church.
On the boys’ side, Silver Creek three-sport standout Jack Hawkins was declared the winner over Henryville’s four-sport athlete Kade Badger and Charlestown three-sport standout Bo Braunecker.
Hawkins, who was on a family vacation and unable to accept his award, enjoyed being recognized for his work in tennis, basketball and baseball. Hawkins was a part of 10 sectional champions, three regional champions and two semistate champions during his career.
Hawkins’ play down the stretch in basketball was instrumental in the Dragons’ reaching the state finals and getting their first-ever state title, but he’s also been recognized as an All-Area performer in tennis and baseball. Next year Hawkins will play basketball at Franklin College, where he looks forward to focusing on one sport. However Hawkins said his favorite sport in high school was probably tennis.
“Tennis has been my favorite four-year sport at Silver Creek,” he said. “Those guys are my best friends. After school, it was always like ‘Yes, it’s tennis practice. I get to be with those guys.’ I love that team a lot.”
Hawkins played a key role in the baseball team taking state runner-up honors in 2018. That momentum propelled him during basketball this past winter, he said.
“After we started going on that run, we realized it really can be done. Ever since then, I was like ‘Why can’t we do it in basketball?’” Hawkins said.
Other years, Badger might have been the favorite to win this award. He was second-team All-Area in basketball, averaging 25 points per game for the Hornets after a busy fall balancing tennis and soccer. Badger then earned second-team All-Area in baseball as well, leading Henryville to the Southern Athletic Conference title.
For Badger, he didn’t earn 14 varsity letters over four years for the sake of doing it. He did it because he enjoyed all four sports. It was about having fun.
“For me, it was always go-go-go. I never had a break. You lose summer, you don’t get a spring break or fall break, you give up time hanging with your friends having fun to work on your craft. What I consider fun is playing sports and being good at them,” he said.
Badger will also go on to play college basketball at Mount St. Joseph. At 5-foot-9, he once thought his future might be in baseball.
“It was always basketball or baseball. Tennis came into play once I got into high school. After the basketball season, I sent out tapes to some coaches and got some good responses,” Badger said.
Braunecker, a school-record discus performer this spring on his way to a 16th-place finish in the state meet, had a big year at linebacker for Charlestown’s football team and was a contributor in basketball as well, leading the team in rebounding.
“I had a lot of great teammates and coaches. My family’s very supportive. My dad was always like, ‘Let’s go throw,’” said Braunecker, who added that balancing three sports has helped him improve his time-management skills. “It’s tough. There’s a lot of late nights, especially when you have big tests. If you want to do all that stuff, you just have to manage your time right.”
The girls’ race for Multi-Sport Athlete of the Year was equally impressive, and competitive.
Providence three-sport standout Natalie Boesing took home the award for the second straight year. Boesing’s breakout basketball season combined with her semistate-qualifying cross country season and being one of the elite tennis talents in the state made her tough to beat for this honor.
In this reporter’s first game covering Boesing, I asked to interview her post-game and was told she was off to a tennis workout at 9 p.m. following the basketball game.
“From a young age I have learned time management and it has helped me through almost every aspect of life,” Boesing said. “Some people would think someone who does three sports might not have time for family or friends, but with good time management, there’s time for anything if you work for it”
New Albany’s Mariah Grant was also deserving of recognition. Grant’s ability to qualify for the State Finals in multiple track and field events — the 100- and 200-meter dashes and long jump — was a stellar cap to her high school career. She posted a .623 batting average with 10 triples and a .658 on-base percentage for the Bulldogs softball team. She finished her career with a .539 batting average.
“I had really supportive coaches that allowed me to do both, which is something you don’t see a lot,” Grant said. “They knew what I was capable of in both sports and trusted me to work hard in both sports. So it gave me a lot of confidence and built trust in them that, ‘Hey, she’ll be at practice.’ They believed in me and when the time came, I executed.”
Nan Garcia was the third finalist for the Multi-Sport Athlete of the Year. The Indiana Junior All-Star in basketball was named the Player of the Year for her hoops’ talents (for the second straight year) and said she has over 15 Division I scholarship offers. Garcia also has the ability to punish the softball during the spring. She hit .512 with nine home runs and 35 RBIs for the Red Devils this past season and was probably one of the top five, or six, talents in our coverage area for that sport.