What does it mean to persevere? It’s safe to say every one of us has battled through some form of adversity — or multiple forms — during our lifetimes. Certainly more hurdles will block our paths.
As we jump those hurdles, climb those walls and slug those curveballs into the grandstands, we’ll walk along life’s path as stronger individuals. “Steadfastness in doing something despite difficulty or delay in achieving success,” that’s the literal definition of perseverance.
While any number of Sheridan County student-athletes could tell stories of triumph through their battles with adversity, five individuals will be recognized for their hearty displays of perseverance at The Sheridan Press Sports Awards next week.
We’ll award one student the Katie Malin French Be Fierce Award for Perseverance and recognize four other honorees at the event May 2 at the WYO Performing Arts and Education Center. The award will cap off the exciting evening in which we’ll recognize the feats of athletes and coaches from across the county.
It’s this award, the Be Fierce Award, that we at The Press are proudest to present.
For those who didn’t know Katie, first of all, that’s a bummer. She was quick to lend a hand and even quicker to throw a little jab in your side because you like a baseball team that isn’t the St. Louis Cardinals. Those are my kind of people (not Cardinals fans — ugh — but ones who aren’t afraid to poke a little fun while being a genuinely good human being.)
Katie’s spirit hit full swing as the former Sheridan Bronc fought tooth and nail with a wretched cancer diagnosis. Now, per Katie’s fierce spirit and her urge to help kids and recognize others who have persevered, we’ll present this award in her honor.
First, let me say this: selecting one of the five nominees as the award’s recipient was a grueling process. It’s absolutely a good problem to have — these kids deserve the recognition, and it’s so cool and humbling to see a group of young folks who are just so tough.
And because of that, we will be recognizing all five in some capacity next week, and each will receive some sort of scholarship thanks to Katie’s family and an awesome group of donors who wanted to be part of this.
We hope you can attend the Sports Awards next week.
Our five honorees for the Katie Malin French Be Fierce Award for Perseverance:
Clayton Auzqui: An Arvada-Clearmont Panther who battled a childhood disease and years of treatment to play football and basketball and run track; he is also student body president and National Honor Society president at ACHS.
Zoie Jones: A Sheridan Lady Bronc who missed her entire junior season with a hip injury and grueling rehab after starting as goalkeeper as a freshman and sophomore. She has since bounced back and reestablished her spot as one of the state’s best in net.
Jay Keo: A Tongue River Eagle who battled life in foster care and the death of his mother before moving home to Montana to help support his younger siblings. When he realized the environment wasn’t best for his future, he moved back in with his legal guardian in Dayton, petitioned the Wyoming High School Activities Association for reinstatement and became one of the top performers on the Eagles basketball team.
Aloma Solovi: A Sheridan College Lady General who turned down a Division I softball scholarship to pursue her basketball dreams. She fought through three ACL tears to play her first full season and earn the starting point guard position at SC as a freshman.
Chelsea Thornburgh: A Sheridan College Lady General who tackled a tough upbringing and family life to earn a spot on the SC women’s soccer team, which had its best finish in school history during Thornburgh’s freshman season. As she’s still pulled in various directions to help her family back home, Thornburgh has integrated herself into the Lady Generals family as she pushes herself to become the first member of her family to graduate college.