It was fitting Thursday night that lightning flashed across the sky as athletes inside of Hunting Hills High School were honoured at their annual athletic banquet.
On the wall above where the student athletes graced the stage it reads, “You have entered the eye of the storm… where Lightning strikes.”
It struck big time for one Lightning athlete, grade 12 Jessie Handley who was named the Hunting Hills Female Athlete of the Year.
The 18-year-old was also named the Andre Sather Memorial Award winner, and her basketball coach Jill de Jonge explained “Hunting Hills has become a better place because of her,” and “she is what Lightning Athletics is about.”
Along with those two major awards, Handley won the coaches award in track and field and was the MVP of the senior girls basketball team.
For all that, Handley said just wanted to work hard and prove herself.
”It’s always been a goal of mine to put the effort and put the work in to achieve it,” she said.
“That’s really what my focus was this year. Not necessarily winning athlete of the year, but putting the effort in. It means a lot, I had tons of coaches that spent so much time with me.”
Her coaches talked time and time again about the selfless athlete that Handley has been in her time at Hunting Hills and she said that’s just something that’s always been there for her.
“The game isn’t just game day, it’s everything thing that you do outside of that, like practices and team unity,” she said.
Handley won a silver filling in at track and field provincials last weekend on the zone 4X100 metre relay team. Handley ended sixth in aggregate individual scores at provincials, with a sixth place finish in the 200m and a 10th place finish in the hurdles.
She will attend RDC next year and suit up for the Queens basketball team.
Handley also added one small piece of advice to current and future Lightning athletes.
“Work hard, that’s the biggest thing. Your skill level will come with work. It’s going to be hard sometimes but it’ll be way worth it,” she said.
Keanna Richards, Sarah Stahl and Leah Hagel were the other female nominees for athlete of the year.
Edward Kim was the Hunting Hills Male Athlete of the Year, excelling in football, basketball, handball and rugby. On the football field was where Kim made his biggest impact, with a laundry list of accomplishments including league defensive player of the year and a scholarship to University of Alberta to play for the Pandas next season.
“It’s a great award, huge responsibility. Have to thank everyone who got me here, my coaches, my parents and everyone who taught me everything I know,” he said.
Kim won the coaches award for basketball and was the MVP of the football team. On top of all that, Kim was the Top Academic Athlete for the second year in a row.
“My parents make sure I get my work done,” he said with a laugh. Kim plans to study medicine in the future at U of A.
Of all his memories at Hunting Hills, Kim said no question his time on the football field was the most memorable.
“I’m a football guy so all my football memories are very dear to me,” he said. “Last year when we won the fourth in a row championship for the city. that one will always be dear to me.”
Daniel Moon, Eric Thompson and Ryan Krawiec were the other male nominees for athlete of the year.
The grade 9 Athletes of the Year were Taylor Leroux and Kyle Rix.
Luke Purnell was the Ross Towers Award winner, Evan Larsen was the Stacy Larsen Memorial Award winner and the bantam football team was the Lightning Pride Team of the Year.