The Flagstaff Sports Institute awarded its third annual Champions of the Mountain Scholarship Award Wednesday via a virtual ceremony as Northland Prep's Ana Nicol and Coconino's Kyle Casados took top honors.
The Champions of the Mountain Award celebrates athletes who have excelled in multiple sports during their high school careers, with consideration of the athlete’s leadership, citizenship and character. The event was hosted by Dr. Torey Botti, president of the Flagstaff Sports Institute.
This year, $4,000 in scholarships were awarded to the eight finalists and two winners -- who each were given $1,000 scholarships.
Nicol excelled in volleyball, dance, basketball, and track and field for the Spartans. She was a team captain for her volleyball team, basketball team and the high jump crew.
Nicol is the Northland Prep record holder in the high jump, was an honorable mention all-region basketball player in the 2A Central and was her basketball team's MVP her final season as the second-leading rebounder in the Central Region.
Nicol has twice served as president of the National Honor Society, volunteered for Girls -4- Good, and has been on service trips to Mexico and Nicaragua. She plans to attend Loyola University, Chicago, next year to study cognitive and behavioral neuroscience and hopes to eventually pursue a Ph.D. to study the brain and behavior.
Casados was a four-year football and baseball athlete for the Panthers. He was a member of last year’s playoff football team as the squad was resurgent, for which he was named Second Team All-Grand Canyon Region, after earning an honorable mention selection as a junior.
In baseball, he was an honorable mention All-Grand Canyon Region honor as a freshman, second team as a sophomore, and first team as a junior. Unfortunately, his senior season was cut short by the COVID-19 closures. Casados was a leader in the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, a member of the Student Council, and was part of the sandbag brigade following last year’s Museum Fire. Casados plans to attend college to pursue a degree in the medical field, and hopes to eventually coach high school football and baseball.
The other eight finalists were also recognized: Hayden Anderson, NPA; Ginger Blodgett, NPA; Brandon Bounds, NPA; Madelyn Clouse, Coconino; Rebecca Encinas, Flagstaff; Christian Lancaster, Flagstaff; Alyssa Sturm, NPA; and Carter Wilson, Flagstaff.
As more and more athletes choose to specialize in only one sport, the Flagstaff Sports Institute awards the Champions of the Mountain Scholarship to highlight the benefits of participating in multiple sports.
As family and community dollars become more sparse following the COVID-19 pandemic, the Flagstaff Sports Institute wants youth athletes and their families to recognize that long-term athletic success, or even a college scholarship, can be achieved from playing multiple sports throughout high school.
Dr. Torey Botti contributed to this story.
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