Antonio Olivero: My 2020-21 Summit High sports awards | SummitDaily.com
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Antonio Olivero: My 2020-21 Summit High sports awards

11 individual and team honors to summarize a weird year

The Summit High School girls rugby team and Coach Karl Barth celebrate with a team photo after winning the final game against Monarch at the high school rugby state championships May 1 at Cook Park in Denver. As the Tigers won their first game, tied the second and claimed victory in the third, the Summit girls rugby team clinched its 13th-straight state championship title.
Photo by Liz Copan / Studio Copan

A few months ago — with Summit County still mired in the coronavirus pandemic and response — I wrote about why I felt sports were essential for the holistic health of our community, families and children. Reflecting on the 2020-21 Summit High School sports season, I couldn’t be more happy that, since February, our local high school children and their families have been provided the opportunity to experience what they love and live for.

With that — and with the final 2020-21 sports seasons coming to an end with track and field winding down next week — it’s time to honor the athletes, coaches and teams who made the most of an unprecedented year. From my perch behind the camera in the stands these past few months, here are the honors I’d like to bestow:

Most Outstanding Boys Athlete: Cam Kalaf



Kalaf proved this year that he’s more than a good high school quarterback. He racked up eye-popping stats for the football team in the fall, led the basketball team to the state playoffs with his athleticism and captaincy and is now eyeing the state meet and school record in the high jump. The Colorado Mesa football team is getting a good one.

Summit Tigers boys basketball senior captain Cam Kalaf scores at the basket versus Palisade in the Tigers' home win over the Bulldogs this winter at Summit High School in Breckenridge.
Photo by Liz Duxbury

Most Outstanding Girls Athlete: Olyvia Snyder



While several other athletes are also deserving of this honor — Lily Hess, Jenna Sheldon and Bryton Ferrari are just a few who come to mind — Snyder stands out. Frankly, the elite-level Alpine skier has an excuse to not compete in any Tigers athletics with her club skiing escapades. Surely other kids at her level don’t. But not only does Snyder compete for the Tigers, she dominates. The rising senior is a state-championship Alpine skier. She’s a meet-winning track star. And she’s a high-level contributor down the wing for the rugby and soccer teams. What doesn’t she do?

Summit's Olyvia Snyder attempts to break free of a Regis Jesuit tackle during the Tigers' three victories earlier this spring at Regis Jesuit High School in Aurora.
Photo by Jimmy Terry

Most Inspirational Teammates: Boys lacrosse

It might have been a tough year in the win department for Matty Marks’ squad, but the boys lacrosse team was playing for more this season after the death by suicide last year of teammate and friend Toby Gard. At each game this season, Marks tabbed a player to wear Gard’s No. 4. Each time out, the Tigers athlete adorning the jersey played his heart out for Toby.

The Summit High School varsity boys lacrosse team celebrates a goal during the Tigers' 10-4 senior night loss to Aspen at Tiger Stadium in Breckenridge.
Photo by Joel Wexler / Rocky Mountain.Photography

Coach of the Year: Karl Barth

Not much needs to be said here. Barth is unequivocally on the Mount Rushmore of Summit athletics. Not only did his team win a 13th-straight title this season, Barth did whatever it took to give his girls a season, including refereeing when umpires didn’t show up to games. Oh, and he coaches skiing, and track and field, too.

Summit High School Alpine ski team coach Karl Barth watches a skier race in giant slalom during a competition at Keystone Resort on Feb. 5.
Photo by Jason Connolly / Jason Connolly Photography

Rookie Coach of the Year: Jotwan Daniels

Talk about passion — goodness, does Daniels harbor it for the Tigers girls soccer program. After he was unable to coach the team last spring due to COVID-19, Daniels poured all he had into this year’s squad. And though he only led the inexperienced team to one win, Daniels got a return of commitment from his girls — a group that never wavered in its dedication for the coach it loves.

The Summit and Battle Mountain high school varsity girls soccer teams jostle for possession during the 3-0 Huskies win at Tiger Stadium in Breckenridge earlier this month.
Photo by Joel Wexler / Rocky Mountain.Photography

Most Passionate Coaches: James Wagner and Pete Baker

Daniels could easily win this one, as well, but considering we tabbed him above, we’ll give this to Wagner and Baker. Why? Because they were two guys who tried everything they could to provide their football and wrestling squads, respectively, as normal of seasons as possible. And that was even when damn near everything else in this county wasn’t normal during early- and midwinter. With COVID-19, their seasons were far from normal. But that doesn’t mean Wagner and Baker weren’t scraping and clawing to provide the normalcy they felt their kids deserved.

Summit High School varsity football coach James Wagner, center, instructs players during a drill Oct. 1, 2020.
Photo by Jason Connolly / Jason Connolly Photography

Boys Team With Stock Up: Baseball

Patrick Stehler’s boys — namely his loaded sophomore class — are special. If you didn’t get a taste of the Tigers’ mullet madness on our Facebook Lives this spring, report back next March. Big future ahead.

Will Koll pitches during one of Summit baseball's two wins over Eagle Valley on May 18 at the Frisco Peninsula Recreation Area in Frisco.
Photo by Joel Wexler / Rocky Mountain.Photography

Girls Team With Stock Up: Soccer

Kayle Walker-Burns’ girls basketball team could qualify here — a lot of the same talent — but we’ll give the nod to Daniels again. Katy Clapp and Kelley Duffy are stars to be, and Daniels has done a marvelous job cobbling together the best young athletes from multiple sports to buy into what he’s preaching. Oh, and like their coach, they got motivation to burn. The Western Slope better watch out.

Summit High School's Logan Gaspard, left, possesses with teammate Katy Clapp up ahead of her against Battle Mountain during the 3-0 Huskies win at Tiger Stadium in Breckenridge on June 5.
Photo by Joel Wexler / Rocky Mountain.Photography

Boys Team of the Year: Basketball

You’d be hard-pressed to find a better baller and bigger basketball fan in this county than Jordan Buller. And the prideful Indianan coach finally had his breakout squad this season. He was telling anyone who would listen back in December that these boys were special and deserved a season. Led by Tyler Nakos, boy, did they deliver — all the way to the state tourney under sweat-soaked cloth face masks.

Banta Sylla, No. 3, joins the Tigers in celebration in Summit's win over Battle Mountain on Feb. 25 at Summit High School in Breckenridge. The Tigers defeated the Huskies 65-59.
Photo by Liz Copan / Studio Copan

Girls Team of the Year: Rugby

Again, considering Barth’s dynasty, not much needs to be said here. But we will say this: The 2021 Summit girls rugby team will not be one lost to the program’s overflowing history. And that’s because they rose to the occasion to meet their predecessor’s high standard no matter what unforeseen obstacles came their way — on or off the pitch.

Bryton Ferrari, center, and fellow Tigers celebrate after winning their final game against Monarch at the high school rugby state championships May 1 at Cook Park in Denver. As the Tigers won their first game, tied the second and claimed victory in the third, the Summit High girls rugby team clinched its 13th-straight state championship title.
Photo by Liz Copan / Studio Copan

Unsung Hero: Rob Courtney

Does this guy sleep in a bunk in the Tigers’ athletic training room? All kidding aside, Courtney was always — ALWAYS — there for the Tigers kids. That was no matter what during a year when the student-athletes missed out on many other elements of school and childhood. He even drew the girls soccer team a yellow card because his instinct was to run out onto the pitch mid-play when a player howled on the turf in pain. The guy’s committed. In Courtney, Tigers Director of Athletics Travis Avery has a proven all-star undertaking what public schooling is all about: serving the children.

Rob Courtney, seen here during the 2018 football season, has given his all to the Summit High School athletics program.
Photo by Hugh Carey / Summit Daily archives

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