V’cats officially bring 2016 to an end

Ignacio varsity head coach Thad Cano presents freshman Makayla Howell with one of two Coaches’ Awards – recognizing top classroom performance through GPA – at the Volleycats’ end-of-season banquet/awards ceremony Tuesday, Nov. 29.
Ignacio senior Alex Forsythe receives a congratulatory hug from freshman Morgan Herrera after receiving the varsity Most Valuable Player award at the Volleycats' end-of-season banquet/awards ceremony Tuesday, Nov. 29.
Joel Priest | Special to the Drum
Joel Priest | Special to the Drum


Prime rib in primetime … sounds like a proper recipe to help recognize achievement(s).

And for Ignacio High School Volleyball, it was as the program officially signed off 2016 with its end-of-season banquet/awards ceremony Tuesday night, Nov. 29, inside the IHS Performing Arts Center Auditorium.

Highlighting the gathering was a keynote address from former Volleycat and 1994 Ignacio graduate Amy Barry, who emphasized the importance of following one’s heart through not only the sport but also life’s unknowns.

“I wanted to be a volleyball player, and I became a politician,” she joked, while recalling her personal experiences in the game – ranging from her first exposure to it as a youth playing in the town’s adult women’s leagues, to her junior-high and high-school days under well-known figures Linda Trujillo, Melanie Taylor and Rocky Cundiff.

“There are no guarantees … but there’s the opportunity to focus on what’s important,” Barry said, implying that could mean either volleyball itself, or using volleyball to help discipline oneself to reach scholastic success. “It was about having it together ‘up here’ [gestures to her temple].”

A summer-camp encounter at Pepperdine University in Malibu, Calif., with the 1988 Olympic gold medal-winning U.S. Men’s National Team – featuring, amongst others, head coach Marv Dunphy (2016-17 is his 34th season with the Waves) and standouts/future AVP beach teammates Karch Kiraly and Ricci Luyties (later an assistant women’s coach at Colorado, and presently women’s HC at Cal-San Diego) – was particularly influential.

“Just because you win every game doesn’t make you a good athlete,” Barry stated, noting that academics, one’s personality, and having respect for self and others were also essentials which translated well for the USMNT (and Women’s National Team) not only on the court, but far from it.

For future reference, Barry stressed to the Cats able to return next fall the importance of being able to mesh well with teammates, taking pride in being prepared in all aspects, and having a basic love of being competitive and simply wanting to be the best one can be.

“Anyone can do that,” she said. “You don’t have to be 6’5”, or be the fastest on the team.”

“I wish you all the greatest success in your career,” she said later in closing, “whatever that may be.”

C-team skipper Katrina Richards then stepped to the podium to announce her squad’s superlatives, which included staff-selected Most Valuable Player and statistically-based MaxPreps.com Player-of-the-Year Larissa Gallegos, a freshman outside hitter. Sophomore middle Divine Windy Boy was named Most Improved Player, and junior middle Gabrianna Creason received the Coaches’ Award for top grade-point average.

Arla Duran-Velasquez followed next with the JV awards, and revealed freshman OH/MB Isabella Pena to be her team’s MVP and senior OH Lea Monroe as the MaxPreps.com POY. Monroe also earned the GPA-based Coaches’ Award, and junior libero Karely Mendoza received Most Improved.

Head coach Thad Cano then presented the varsity’s individual laurels. The Coaches’ Award was shared by multi-position freshmen Morgan Herrera and Makayla Howell, and Herrera also copped Most Improved. Senior Alex Forsythe, pressed from a hitting role back into setting later in the season in place of sophomore Shoshone Thompson, received MVP and MaxPreps.com POY honors.

Nominated for, but ultimately not named to one of the two Colorado Coaches of Girls’ Sports All-State, Class 2A crews, Forsythe was also named Second Team All-San Juan Basin League, with senior middle Kelly Campbell receiving Honorable Mention All-SJBL.

“To the entire volleyball program, thank you for a wonderful season,” said Cano.


Repping the SJBL at CCGS All-State (Nov. 20, at Arvada West H.S.) were:

Nucla setter/outside hitter Carlie Wytulka (1A-Red, coached by New Raymer-based Prairie’s Jayce Tappy and Andrea Kinnison), Nucla OH Taylor Sickels (1A-Blue, under Fleming’s Doug Kamery and Connie Wilkening), Telluride OH/MH Brianna Brown (2A-Red, under Hoehne’s Tyrel Barry and Mary Pettis), Ridgway S Ara Norwood (2A-Red), Telluride libero Abril Vazquez Olivas (2A-Red).

No SJBL players were listed on the 2A-Blue roster, coached by Kremmling West Grand’s Rose Gamblin and Richard Gamblin. Joining Forsythe in being nominated by the loop’s coaches were Norwood MH/OH Macie Magallon, Ridgway OH Saren Robinson, Mancos OH/MH/S Nicole Hess, Ridgway MH Emma Copp, and Nucla S/RS Kylie Puderbaugh.

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