Daily Chronicle sports editor Ross Jacobson and sports reporter Steve Nitz spend their days covering the area’s sports scene. Occasionally, they give their viewpoints on those local sports. In this installment of their Take 2 column, they discuss choosing the 2013 Female Athlete of the Year winner.
Jacobson: Overall, athletes of the year are always some of the toughest decisions we have to make as a sports staff. Comparing athletes who play the same sport at different schools in different conferences is tough enough. Having to weigh the cumulative accomplishments of every athlete from across different sports is an even harder task.
This year’s group for Female Athlete of the Year candidates provided us with one of the more difficult decisions in recent years. Ultimately, the criteria we valued was consistent, high-level athletic performance spread over multiple sports. Although there are great athletes who play only one high school sport, we emphasized those athletes who contributed to multiple teams.
Steve, who were some of the top candidates we originally discussed?
Nitz: Although ultimately we decided to go with Indian Creek senior Kate Thuestad, it wasn’t an easy choice, as there were a number of good candidates out there.
Kaneland’s Allyson O’Herron was a first-team all-area selection during basketball season, and the Northern Illinois Big 12 East softball MVP. DeKalb senior Rachel Torres was our Girls Basketball Player of the Year, and a starting defender for the Barbs’ conference-champion soccer team in the spring. Those were three of the top candidates, and you probably could make a case for any one of them.
Jacobson: Another candidate who maybe was under the radar a little bit was Hiawatha senior Dani Clark. She played volleyball, basketball and softball for the Hawks and helped lead Hiawatha to a regional championship in the spring season.
An interesting note, Thuestad continues a streak of Route 30 dominance in this award as a girl from Indian Creek or Hinckley-Big Rock now has won the award six consecutive years.
Even more bizzare, Thuestad will be playing volleyball at Loras College in Iowa, the same college for which 2012 Female Athlete of the Year Kaitlin Phillips attends and plays basketball.
One common theme among Thuestad and the three previous females who won the award is they all were three-sport athletes.
Nitz: And Thuestad was a key contributor in all three sports, being a second-team all-area selection in both volleyball and basketball. In track season, she qualified for state in the shot put. There obviously are exceptions to the rule, but under normal circumstances, I think the athlete of the year should go to someone who plays three sports.
Jacobson: Already looking ahead to next year, a couple of early candidates for the 2014 Femaile Athlete of the Year award could include H-BR junior Jacqueline Madden, DeKalb sophomore Brittney Patrick and Sycamore sophomore Lauren Goff.