The Snyder Awards have grown to become a staple of our community over the last 61 years.
They began in the hopes to both continue the memory of James H. Snyder, a former CDT sports editor who was killed in an automobile crash in December of 1957, while at the same time celebrating the best character and spirit of our county’s youth.
The awards are meant to honor a pair of high school seniors from each of the six county schools for their achievements not just on the courts and fields of Centre County but for their academic progress and their work toward community service. Although the awards have changed some over the years — we now honor two from each school instead of one, for example — the intent to recognize some of the best and brightest high school seniors from the area hasn’t changed.
The Snyder Awards were first handed out to just four students in 1958, back when a ticket to the World Series cost two bucks and a dime. And they’ve continued through 12 U.S. presidents and more than 80 new major professional sports teams.
The awards have become part of the fabric of our community, a who’s-who list of honorees that have become doctors and lawyers, coaches and teachers. And it’s our honor to announce the 2019 list of Snyder Award winners who’ll continue that rich tradition and legacy: Bald Eagle Area’s Chelsea Butterworth and Garrett Giedroc, Bellefonte’s Catharine Besch and Kyle Myers, Penns Valley’s Max Engle and Marissa Stecko, Philipsburg-Osceola’s Kam Harris and Daniel “Bubba” Slogosky, St. Joseph’s Catholic Academy’s Anna Griggs and Jack Mangene, and State College’s Owen Lloyd and Kelly Vanden.
Bald Eagle Area: Chelsea Butterworth and Garrett Giedroc
Bald Eagle Area’s Chelsea Butterworth and Garrett Giedroc are both accustomed to hearing their names called over the loudspeaker during soccer games and other sporting events — but they were both honored Friday night for more than athletics.
The two well-rounded student-athletes heard their names announced at BEA’s awards ceremony when they were both recognized as the school’s Snyder Award winners out of a graduating class of 125.
“It’s such an honor, honestly,” Butterworth said. “I’ve read about all the other Snyder Award winners, and to be among that group of students is amazing.”
Added Giedroc: “I was just really excited. It’s pretty crazy; it’s just really awesome to hear my name called.”
Butterworth graduated 10th in her class, meeting her early goal of finishing within the top 10 percent. She took part in soccer for all four years and was named first-team All-Mountain League as a senior, while also helping lead the unified bocce team to a state title a few months ago, in its first season of varsity competition. (The member of the National Honor Society was also one of the team’s first competitors a year ago, before it played on a state level.) Giedroc finished 16th in his class and leaves behind a legacy of leadership.
He was a soccer captain, and he became the first of his four brothers — three of whom are older — to qualify for states in wrestling. (He finished fourth at districts as a 120-pound senior.) He also made the distinguished honor roll every year and won the 2019 Wrestling Spirit Award.
And he couldn’t have been more pleased with the choices for BEA’s Snyder Awards.
“Once I saw us both get picked, I knew it was an honor because I know how hard Chelsea works on the athletic field and in the community,” Giedroc said. “She’s an overall great person so, if I can reflect that, it’s just a blessing to be able to have the same characteristics.”
Both students have developed reputations for being both humble and serving their communities. Butterworth was involved with her church youth group throughout high school, and she volunteered for the Special Olympics at least two years. “To see the look on their faces when they won, it was such a cherished memory,” Butterworth said. Giedroc was also heavily involved with his church youth group, going on several missions trips to help others.
Giedroc traveled with his youth group to West Virginia to clean a homeless shelter and provide food. He also helped construct a gazebo for the local family of a child with serious medical issues.
The two recent graduates balanced sports, academics and community service with other school clubs, too. Giedroc was in the National Honor Society as an upperclassman and, for three years, was a member of the Future Business Leaders of America — while somehow balancing a part-time job at Subway throughout the year. Butterworth was a member of a number of clubs — including Leo Club, the Special Olympics Committee, Students Against Destructive Decisions (SADD), student government and mini-Thon.
Through all the activities and accolades, the core of their high school careers was dedicated to bettering themselves and helping others. And it’s difficult to create a better legacy at such a young age.
It’s that character that allowed the two Eagles to hear their names called Friday night for BEA’s Snyder Awards, and it will serve them well in the future. Giedroc is enrolling at Penn State (Altoona), while Butterworth will attend Bloomsburg.
“Getting this award is one of the higher-end awards that you can receive at school because you’re getting recognized for everything you do,” Butterworth said. “Not just academics or sports or community service.
“It just really shows your character.”
Bellefonte: Catharine Besch and Kyle Myers
Bellefonte’s Kyle Myers and Catharine Besch closed their high school careers with some hardware.
Myers and Besch were recognized Wednesday as Snyder Award winners at Bellefonte’s Senior Awards Night, singled out among Red Raider seniors for their contributions on the mat, in net and outside the confines of sport.
“It’s a huge award at our school,” Besch said. “I’m very grateful to win it with Kyle. He’s a great athlete, as well. And I appreciate how the community views my contributions to Bellefonte.”
Added Myers: “It’s an honor to achieve this award, to be recognized for what I’ve done academically and athletically, and to be a part of this, to be with Catharine in this.”
Myers and Besch are deserving choices, starting with their athletic credentials. Myers is set to wrestle at West Virginia, while Besch is slated to play goalkeeper on Juniata’s soccer team.
Myers — a two-time District 6 wrestling champion — was also named all-conference in football twice and competed on the track and field team. But his biggest achievement? Eclipsing 100 career wins in wrestling, which he did against Clearfield on Feb. 5 at home.
“To get better each year and make wrestling a big part of my life and hitting that milestone, it set me apart,” the senior added. “Each year was successful to get me to my 100 wins, and my coaches pushed me to get there.”
For Besch, her greatest athletic feat was recording 150 saves in her senior year alone. The Lady Red Raiders reached the District 6 finals in 2018 thanks in large part to the one-year starter’s shot-stopping prowess in goal.
Besch showed out in the classroom, as well. The senior, who plans to study bioinformatics, finished 10th in her class among 206 students and excelled in college courses while still in high school, provided through the University of Pittsburgh and St. Francis University. Myers was right behind Besch in the class rankings, finishing 19th. Both were members of the National Honors Society.
Besch was the president of the Spanish Honor Society and the secretary of concert band, playing the flute and saxophone and taking part in the jazz and marching bands. She also served as the girls’ basketball manager. Outside of Bellefonte, Besch was secretary of the Walker Township 4-H Club.
“I’m thankful for all the opportunities I had at Bellefonte and all the clubs I got to be a leader of,” Besch added. “It was so beneficial.”
Myers, meanwhile, captained the football team three times and wrestling team twice. Before eventually pursuing a master’s degree in hospital administration, the future Mountaineer intends to study organizational leadership at West Virginia, which should come natural to him. Myers said no matter what he’s “always tried to help others and pursue that leadership role.”
It’s that kind of approach that’s guided both Myers and Besch to this point — ready to leave high school behind and embark on their collegiate careers.
Besch believes that Myers is going to do “great things” at West Virginia. Myers said of the goalkeeper: “Whatever she chooses to do, she’ll be successful.”
The Snyder Award winners believe in themselves, too. And they have every reason to.
“Bellefonte has taught me so much in and out of school,” Besch said. “The academic rigor I put myself through prepared me for college. And the extracurriculars and community events I participated in have taught me how to be a better person.”
Added Myers: “My teachers and my parents, especially my mom, have pushed me and made me the person I am today. I can’t thank them enough.”
Penns Valley: Max Engle and Marissa Stecko
Penns Valley seniors Marissa Stecko and Max Engle remember looking around their auditorium the night of May 28 and wondering who the Snyder Award winners for their school might be.
They guessed friends and peers, teammates and leaders for the prestigious prize. But they never thought it would be themselves — not until their names were announced.
“Frankly, I was taken aback,” Engle said. “Seeing my name engraved on it, I’m at a loss for words. ‘Otherworldly’ comes to mind.”
Said Stecko: “It was definitely a surprise, considering you kind of watch the award from years past and look up to the students that win it. ... It was kind of, like Max said, ‘otherworldly.’”
For Penns Valley, the unassuming pair of Engle and Stecko seemed like a perfect fit for the awards.
Stecko boasts a 4.1 GPA — the highest GPA of any Penns Valley female athlete — and half of her courses consisted of Advanced Placement classes. Engle is one of the top students of Penns Valley’s graduating class and has never not been on the honor roll.
Athletically, the two share a few pages in the Rams’ record books. Engle ranks No. 13 all-time in the school shot put — “Nothing to write home about, honestly,” he said with a laugh — and, even with a torn ligament in his right ankle, served as the captain for the track and field team’s throwers. Stecko helped set a school record in the 400-meter relay and earned both district and state medals. She was also a varsity starter on the volleyball team, a key cog for the last four years.
But the two weren’t named Snyder Award winners just for their high GPAs or their athletic talents. Away from the classroom and the courts and fields, the two have set an example for their peers to follow.
“Every time I see Marissa, she’s either talking to one of her closest friends or someone she’s talking to for the first time,” Engle said. “And she treats people with the same amount of respect and dignity.”
Said Stecko: “Even if (Max) isn’t having the best day, he’s doing the best job he can to crack jokes and put smiles on people’s faces because it makes him feel better ... His character brings light into other people’s lives.”
The same could be said of both Penns Valley students, who recently graduated. Back when she was a freshman, Stecko took note of how the seniors took her under their wing — and she tried hard to do the same. She realized she succeeded when the junior high team would attend varsity volleyball games and the young girls would have her number painted on their faces.
Engle was known to many as a “mascot” of sorts for the Rams. The friendly senior knew everyone on the track and field team and every event they were in. He even offered a pep talk on the final meet of the season — “It’s not about being perfect; it’s about being authentic,” he remembered of the theme — and essentially embraced the role of player-coach.
Engle will attend McDaniel College while majoring in physics and astrophysics, while Stecko will attend Penn State (University Park) and major in biomedical engineering.
Although the two both have a diverse set of interests and activities — Engle is the VP of Diversity Club and is a five-time volunteer for Crickfest; Stecko has helped several charities and tutored students — they’ve both made a big impact in a lot of different ways.
And the Snyder Awards were meant to honor and commend them both on those positive influences. They may not have sought recognition — but they earned it.
“I definitely thought that students who won the award are role models for the student body,” Stecko added. “So it means a lot knowing that Max and I can be those role models for future students.”
Philipsburg-Osceola: Kam Harris and Bubba Slogosky
Philipsburg-Osceola’s Kam Harris and Bubba Slogosky are leaving high school with an armful of sports records and big dreams for academics.
Slogosky, P-O’s all-time passing leader in football, boasts a 4.0 GPA and a 1310 on his SATs. And Harris, who graduated within the top five of her class, is poised to become a four-time all-state selection in softball while also ranking among P-O’s all-time leaders in pitching wins.
That balance is a big reason the pair of Mounties earned this year’s Snyder Awards.
“It’s definitely exciting,” Harris said about the annual award. “It’s nice to be recognized for not only your sports but your academics and community service.”
Said Slogosky: “It was pretty amazing. There have been some pretty great people that got the award before, so I was very honored.”
Athletically, the two are among the most-accomplished seniors at the school. Harris was a key player on the volleyball team for two years, starting as the middle hitter as a senior. But she was best known for her softball accomplishments, as she was a four-year starter and one of the state’s best pitchers. She helped lead the team to a state title last season. Slogosky shined in every sport he tried — baseball, basketball and football. And he helped lead the baseball team to the PIAA quarterfinals this year.
But the two haven’t been limited to simply success in athletics. Academically and socially, they’ve challenged themselves and thrived. Harris took challenging classes such as anatomy and organic chemistry while also joining Key Club and Illustrators Club. Slogosky finished No. 3 in his class rankings — despite juggling Drama Club and the National Honors Society in addition to his three sports.
“Bubba is a hard worker,” Harris said. “He’s got a good head on his shoulders.”
Added Slogosky: “Kam’s just a competitor. She hasn’t blinked an eye.”
Somehow, between bouncing from practices and study halls to after-school activities and school clubs, the two have also found a way to give back to their community.
Slogosky was a camp instructor for all three of his sports, and he also volunteered for the YMCA. Harris helped the softball team’s booster club raise more than $10,000 this season with Vera Bradley Bingo, and she also volunteered as a youth softball coach.
“It’s just a way for us varsity players to get to know them personally and act as a role model for them,” Harris said.
Harris will continue her academic and softball careers at the Pennsylvania College of Technology, where she hopes to become a physician’s assistant. And Slogosky is majoring in bio-behavioral health at Penn State (University Park).
They’ve both put a lot of work into making it this far — and the Snyder Awards, at their best, help embody that. That wasn’t lost on either Harris, or Slogosky, who said he’s been aware of the award since his older sister started talking about it six years ago.
“My mom said it was a very big deal,” Slogosky said with a laugh. “It’s definitely a feeling of satisfaction knowing your hard work is paying off.”
St. Joseph’s: Anna Griggs and Jack Mangene
St. Joseph’s Catholic Academy’s Jack Mangene and Anna Griggs couldn’t have packed another activity into their full high school schedules.
The two recent grads both performed more than 100 hours of community service, boasted at least 4.0 GPAs, competed at a high level in athletics and took part in numerous clubs and activities. That’s why the pair were recently named the school’s Snyder Award winners.
“It really just kind of validated all the hard work I put in,” Mangene said.
Added Griggs: “I’m happy to carry on the legacy of receiving this award and to be grouped with such amazing people.”
Mangene still remembers one of his more hectic days. He arrived at school early, around 7 a.m., for a cappella practice. He then attended classes, followed by baseball practice, musical dress rehearsals — he played the lead role of Danny Zuko in “Grease” — and a musical gig at Otto’s with his dad. Oh, and once he got home, there was still some homework and studying left to be done.
Griggs was no different. She had early a cappella practice with Mangene, followed by classes and then she’d arrive at boys’ basketball practice as the team manager. That was usually followed up by musical rehearsals — she played Marty, one of the the Pink Ladies in “Grease” — and then a pick-up volleyball game somewhere around the community to stay sharp. She balanced her homework by sometimes doing it in lulls at basketball practice.
Griggs was the first member of her family to have a four-year letter in sports, as she was a key cog in SJCA’s volleyball team. (The setter started games in all four years.) She also finished her high school career with a 4.2 GPA and was asked to speak at graduation. On top of that, she helped manage the volleyball team’s annual “Pink Zone” game and helped raise more than $7,000 the last two years.
Mangene picked up a reputation for being SJCA’s “Renaissance man.” He played basketball, golf and baseball all four years — and won three conference basketball championships and two district golf championships, in addition to winning the individual district golf title this past season and earning two state berths in baseball. He also graduated with a 4.0 GPA, volunteered his time to play music at a local nursing home and, under his leadership, watched the school’s a cappella group more than double its song repertoire.
The two were involved in a lot of the same activities — such as basketball, a cappella and “Grease” — and they became close friends as seniors.
“Jack is the best,” Griggs said. “If you don’t know Jack Mangene, you’re missing out. He truly is the jack of all trades. He does everything. But he doesn’t let his busy schedule get in the way of his relationships and friendships.”
Said Mangene: “The most marvelous thing about her is she gets things done, and she does everything at very high quality. No matter what she’s doing. She’s a pretty special person.”
Mangene will attend Eastern University, just outside Philadelphia, where he plans to study physical therapy while competing on the golf team. Griggs was accepted into Penn State’s Schreyer Honors College, where she plans to major in chemistry before heading to med school.
The two will undoubtedly have full college careers. In high school, Mangene juggled three sports with music and academics. Griggs was the president of theater club, a four-year member of mock trial, co-president on the student council and a two-year member of the National Honor Society.
But, no matter what they go on to do, they’ve already both left memorable legacies at St. Joseph’s.
“Some people don’t really know when to stop taking opportunities,” Mangene said with a laugh, “so, at times, it can get tough balancing your time. But I feel like it’s made me well-prepared for the rest of my life.”
Added Griggs: “I had a lot of great opportunities. ... I wouldn’t have changed anything.”
State College: Owen Lloyd and Kelly Vanden
State College tennis stars Kelly Vanden and Owen Lloyd trained together since they were 10 years old at Penn State’s facility and, in high school, attended each other’s matches to offer support. Vanden said the two have “become family” over the years.
So it was fitting, really, that Vanden and Lloyd stood side by side on Tuesday night at State College’s sports banquet to be honored as the school’s Snyder Award winners.
“It just felt great to be recognized like that in front of all my peers, especially with Owen,” Vanden said. “We’ve played tennis together for as long as I can remember. For him to be alongside me getting that award was absolutely fantastic. It was a great moment.”
Added Lloyd: “It means a lot. ... It’s great to be recognized.”
Academically, both Lloyd and Vanden were members of State College’s National Honors Society. Lloyd — a National Merit finalist, meaning his PSAT score was in the 99th percentile — was an officer for the math club, physics club and Model U.N. Vanden, also a member of the National Technical Honors Society, maintained an A-average in her “all-AP course load” as a senior.
In terms of community service, Vanden was a volunteer at Mount Nittany Medical Center for the past three years. She recently reached 200 hours of service, earning a scholarship from the hospital. Lloyd helped organize the National Honors Society’s annual Bunny Hop, a fundraiser for the Four Diamonds Fund. He also went on a mission trip with his State College Presbyterian Church youth group to Baltimore, where he aided food insecure communities.
And of course, the two starred on the tennis court. But not without overcoming challenges.
Lloyd — the first player in District 6 history to win four consecutive doubles championships — was told two days before the district tournament as a freshman that he was switching partners. “I was not prepared,” Lloyd said with a laugh. “At last minute, it had to be changed, and they were like, ‘OK, you’re going to play with Matt (Wherley) now.’ ... And we had never played doubles before. But we figured out to play together over the course of two days.”
Lloyd and Wherley won the title and did so again in Lloyd’s sophomore year. As a junior, Lloyd linked up with freshman Drew Cagle, who became his title-winning partner in 2018 and 2019. On May 2, Lloyd and Cagle beat Altoona’s duo of Jonah Brandt and Casey Rispoli 6-1, 6-0 in the doubles championship. Five days later, Lloyd topped Brandt in singles to help State College to a District 6 team title.
“We blew through the competition,” Lloyd said. “It felt great.”
Vanden had that feeling this year, too.
After falling short of earning a District 6 crown in the previous three seasons, the senior ended her career with a district doubles championship, taking down Hollidaysburg with partner Catelyn Janac. Vanden also excelled in singles, securing State College’s No. 1 spot as a freshman and maintaining that status through her senior campaign.
“I held it from the get-go,” Vanden said. “I’ve been playing tennis since I was 3 years old, and I played competitively in tournaments my entire life. I came into the team as a really strong player.”
It showed. Vanden lost only two regular-season singles matches over her four years, including undefeated seasons as a sophomore and senior. In the postseason, she was a District 6 singles runner-up twice.
Vanden is hoping to extend her tennis career with the club team at UNC-Chapel Hill, where she’ll study biology and possibly double major in neurology. Lloyd plans to play tennis with Penn State’s club team while studying math and economics at Schreyer Honors College.
As the Snyder Award winners move on from State College, Lloyd and Vanden acknowledge they learned a lot over the past four years — not just about themselves, but about each other.
“Kelly was calm, cool and collected,” Lloyd said. “It’s that ability to be extremely respectful on the court and as a person in school. It was that kind of energy.”
Added Vanden: “He puts it all out there, and that’s great to see how passionate he is about the game. ... We’ve always been competitors on the tennis court and friends outside, too.”