Menlo-Atherton wrestler Lauren McDonnell is one of four statewide CIF Spirit of Sports award winners for the 2019 winter and spring seasons
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Menlo-Atherton wrestler Lauren McDonnell is one of four CIF Spirit of Sport winners for 2019 Winter and Spring seasons

April 2, 2019

SACRAMENTO, CALIF. — Lauren McDonnell (Menlo-Atherton High School), Thomas Moorehead (Mesa Verde High School), Payton Fuller (West Valley High School), and Samantha Matlock (Mariposa County High School) were named the recipients of the prestigious CIF Spirit of Sport Award for 2019 Winter and Spring respectively. The four statewide winners, along with the two Fall recipients, will receive an award, a patch, a $1,000 scholarship and be recognized at the year-end CIF Federated Council dinner on April 12, in Burlingame.

The CIF Spirit of Sport Award recognizes student-athletes who have demonstrated the 16 principles of Pursuing Victory with Honorsm, are active in school and community service and exhibit leadership qualities. The principles of Pursuing Victory with Honorsm are the operating principles of the CIF and have been adopted by the 1,606-member high schools throughout the state.

“These recipients have exemplified the Spirit of Sport and reflect the positive elements of Pursuing Victory with Honorsm, reinforcing the value of education-based athletics,” said CIF Executive Director Roger L. Blake.

Additionally, the CIF selected a boy and girl Section winner, in each of the 10 Sections for each season of sport, from all submitted applications to receive $500. A list of all winter and spring 2019 Section recipients follows.

Lauren McDonnell co-founded the girls wrestling team at Menlo-Atherton High School her freshman year and has served as the team captain for the past three years. She is also a member of the debate team, is a volunteer tutor at her school and has served as the chapter president for Buildon Global Literacy Development non-profit. Additionally, she co-founded the Menlo-Atherton Wrestling Education Corporation non-profit which provides scholarships to wrestlers in need.

“Helping my teammates navigate their hardships has been the biggest challenge and inspiration of my life,” says McDonnell. “We’ve succeeded and grown in so many ways despite the obstacles we’ve faced together. Without realizing it, they pushed me past my confining ideology and by doing so forever expanded my perspective. Because of their incredible resilience and example, my point of view and attitudes have completely changed – I discovered that compassion is better than stoicism, that patience is not inefficient but creates impact, that listening is the foundation of effective change.”

“Lauren is one of the best leaders, problem solvers, and communicators I’ve ever met,” praised Menlo-Atherton Wrestling Coach Philip Hoang. “In my 17-year coaching career, I’ve coached hundreds of students and she is the most balanced, goal-driven, productive and unshakable student I’ve ever worked with while at the same time being enthusiastic, optimistic and approachable.”

Thomas Moorehead is a member of the basketball and baseball teams at Mesa Verde High School and also a member of AVID, Key Club and the California Scholarship Federation. Additionally, he has volunteered more than 140 hours in his community.

“Years of hard work have not only developed me as an athlete but as a person as well,” states Moorehead. “I’m very grateful for who I’ve become and how sportsmanship through basketball has developed me. It’s a necessity to develop yourself as a person, before development as a player.”

“Thomas is one of the most intelligent, hard-working and compassionate people I have ever met,” commends Mesa Verde English Teacher Brad Ward. “He makes the best out of any situation, whether it is on campus or in life.”

Mesa Verde Mathematics Teacher Leslie Peoples adds, “Thomas is a wonderful student who prides himself on academic achievement, personal development and community service. His quiet dedication to achievement in all aspects of his life shines.”

Payton Fuller is a two-sport athlete at West Valley High School participating in Track and Swim. He is actively involved in school leadership currently serving as ASB Treasurer and is also involved in several clubs and associations. Additionally, Fuller contributes to his community and has led fundraising efforts for several charitable causes.

“Sportsmanship to me is intentionally behaving in a way that encourages all athletes on a field of play to have their best day ever,” states Fuller. “I try to live this. Every day can be better than the last. Sportsmanship requires effort. Sportsmanship drives personal accountability and excellence on and off the field.”

“Payton is a driven and goal-oriented young man,” states West Valley High School Principal Emmett Koerperich. “The characteristics that set Payton apart from other students is his genuine demeanor and his truly exceptional work ethic. His focus, enthusiasm, sportsmanship, and support for others is an inspiration to his peers and other athletes. He brings dignity and respect to the school and appears to carry this attitude to all areas of his life.”

West Valley Athletic Director Scott Fairley adds, “I can honestly say that Payton is one of the most well-rounded student-athletes I have had the pleasure to work with in my many years of teaching.”

Samantha Matlock is a four-year varsity softball and volleyball player at Mariposa County High School, as well as an established musician. She is also an ASB Officer, an MCHS representative to the Juvenile Justice Commission and is involved in many other activities and clubs on campus. Additionally, she volunteers her time with her local Parks and Rec., Rotary Interact and serves as an assistant volleyball coach.

“For me, the ‘spirit of sport’ is the culmination of every lesson, every coach, and every friendship I have made on the field that has given me the confidence, respect and drive to be successful in the next stage of life,” states Matlock.

“Samantha is a true role model not only to her peers but to the younger generation who she volunteers her time with,” commends Mariposa County Dean of Students Tammi Richards. “She is honest, sincere, hardworking and passionate in all things that she sets her mind to. She is a positive role model for youth and adults alike.”

Mariposa County Softball Coach Tony Williams adds, “Both on the field and in the classroom, Sam demonstrates skills and abilities that display her leadership, hard work, and tenacity. I am truly delighted to have coached a player like Sam and to know her as a person.”

2019 CIF Winter Spirit of Sport SECTION Winners

Central Section

Lilian Svetich – Basketball, San Luis Obispo High School

Central Coast Section

D’Von Lang – Basketball, Valley Christian High School

Rachel Bakke – Basketball, Saratoga High School

Los Angeles City Section

Mariah Williams – Basketball, Animo Watts High School

North Coast Section

Dylan Joyce – Basketball, Marin Catholic

Patricia McCleery – Traditional Competitive Cheer, Lower Lake High School

Sac-Joaquin Section

Juliana Taylor – Basketball, Center High School

Noah Mirelez – Wrestling, Patterson High School

San Diego Section

Jacob Jovien – Basketball, Francis Parker

Kaylee Stiffler – Basketball, Cathedral Catholic

San Francisco Section

Jessica Mari Castaneda – Basketball, ICA Cristo Rey Academy

Southern Section

Allison Reed – Basketball, Crean Lutheran High School

Seth Hoskins – Basketball, Whittier Christian High School

2019 CIF Spring Spirit of Sport SECTION Winners

Central Section

Blair Abril – Swim & Dive, Bakersfield Christian High School

Kaylee Melendez – Softball, Mission Oak High School

Central Coast Section

Michael Leahy – Baseball, Saint Francis High School

Grace Tramack – Swimming, Henry M. Gunn High School

Los Angeles City Section

Djamal Lylecyrus – Boys Volleyball, Los Angeles Center for Enriched Studies

North Coast Section

Trey Turner – Baseball, Pittsburg High School

Margo Donahue – Track & Field, Piedmont High School

Northern Section

Bailey Dakota Jones – Track & Field, West Valley High School

Oakland Section

Darious Howard – Baseball, Oakland High School

Millie Caroline Garrett – Track & Field, Oakland Technical High School

Sac-Joaquin Section

Gabriel Whitecotton – Baseball, Western Sierra Collegiate Academy

Alayssia Townsell – Track & Field, Ronald E. McNair High School

San Diego Section

Adam Nussbaum – Volleyball, Francis Parker School

Gillian Folk – Swim, Academy of Our Lady of Peace

San Francisco Section

Connor James Pino – Baseball, Mission High School

Leanna Lam – Track & Field, Raul Wallenberg High School

Southern Section

Chase Pinkerton – Boys Volleyball, Mira Costa High School

Angela Gagnon – Track & Field, Oxford Academy


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