Warwick honors its athletes at annual sports awards banquet

| 28 Sep 2011 | 02:13

    Warwick n Athletic director John Russo called them the "best of the best." They are the athletes who excelled this year at the varsity level at Warwick Valley High School. Parents, teachers, administrators, and fellow athletes came out last week to celebrate their young talent. The middle school cafeteria was packed with those winning awards as well as those cheering them on. The awards were given for athletes who stood out with their talent, but also those whose effort set them apart, or who improved the most over the course of the season. Many of the awards are memorial awards, named for someone with a special connection to the school or sport, and donated by a group or family member in honor of that person. Michelle Knieriemen Montgomery attended the banquet to give out an award in her dad's name, the Joseph F. Knieriemen Memorial Soccer Scholarship. She was just 18 when he died, and had just graduated from Warwick Valley High School. She played volleyball and had just received the Kathy Scollan, Karen Pederson Memorial Award for volleyball's most improved player. "It made a big impact on me, winning that award," Knieriemen Montgomery said. "I just felt so good about it." Her dad had quite the attraction to soccer, which Michelle herself played most of her student life. Joseph Knieriemen played soccer in the city when he was young, she recalled, but he taught his children the game as well. "Five of the six of us played," she said. "He coached all of us and was involved with the Wallkill United Soccer Club." Her family decided to give the award in his honor as a way to keep his memory alive and to contribute to Warwick's soccer players. "It is given by my family," Knieriemen Montgomery said. "We haven't accepted donations yet, it is just a family thing." The family bases its award on skill, dedication, leadership, sportsmanship, and teamwork on the soccer field. This year, the recipient was Elaine Zaveckas, who walked off with a few other awards as well, including the Warwick Soccer Club Scholarship in memory of Robin Desrats, the girls soccer leadership award, and the award for outstanding female athlete. This year, presenting the award was special to Knieriemen Montgomery. Her family has just expanded. Knieriemen Montgomery welcomed a son just six months ago. She wanted to bring David Christopher to the awards ceremony but thought it might be too much for his tender age. "Next year, though, he'll be here with me giving out the award named after his grandfather," she said.