POULSBO — The trophy that has carried the names of North Kitsap’s top athlete-scholars now carries those of Brita Nelson and Jacob Freiboth.
Freiboth, who was nominated by football coach Jerry Parrish and baseball coach Steve Frease, and Nelson, who was nominated by tennis coach Trish Olson, were awarded the Shandera award at Thursday night’s scholarship award program.
The award is named for former coach and teacher Joe Shandera, a popular figure at North Kitsap High School who died suddenly, and had an award named for his honor in 1969.
“It’s the most prestigious award the NKHS athletic department can give,” athletic coordinator Scott McKay said moments before handing out awards to Nelson and Freiboth.
In previous years, the large trophy itself has travelled home with that year’s recipients.
But after a display case was built in the gym to permanently hold the trophy — as well as information about past winners and Joe Shandera himself — the winners were given plaques to keep as long as they wish.
“I was surprised I got it,” Nelson said after receiving the award. It’s such a great and honorable award to receive.”
Freiboth said, “I didn’t know about it until this year. It’s great to learn the things Joe Shandera stood for — a good athlete, a good teammate, good in the classroom.”
Freiboth was the only male nominee this year. Other female nominees included Lydia Ramsey, Angela Kramer, and Sarah Bergman.
Coaches decide on who will receive the award.
Scott McKay said the award, which in the past has gone to such familiar names as Aaron Sele, is a difficult one to earn; the standards for the athletes are high, both on the field and in the classroom; and a greater and greater emphasis has been placed on being a positive teammate rather than a star player.
Both athletes who won, McKay said, fill that criteria.
Speaking about Freiboth, McKay said: “He’s all-around a great kid; a kid you want to build a team around.” On Nelson, he said: “She’s a strong teammate. When Trish (Olson) nominated her, she cited her willingness to work with younger kids.”
He said, “Athletics is really a small part of it (winning the award).”
The criteria for the award includes dedication to excellence in athletics; good academic standing; good sportsmanship; responsibility towards the school and community; loyalty; leadership by example; senior standing; participation in a variety of sports; sacrifice to achieve; coachability; admiration by opponents as well as teammates; overcoming of disadvantages; achieving potential.
The athlete doesn’t have to be a star to win.
Last year’s winners were Nate Carter and Alice Wood.