HAVERHILL — Former Timberlane field hockey coach Mim Ryan had a lot to say Thursday afternoon at the Moynihan Lumber Merrimack Valley Student-Athlete of the Year awards luncheon at Haverhill Country Club.
Mostly, Ryan spoke about Timberlane’s Sarah Padellaro, who she introduced as the Female Student-Athlete of the Year. But she could just as well have been speaking of Andover’s Jason Denoncourt, who was the Male Student-Athlete of the Year.
“Sarah is competitive not only with others but with herself,” said Ryan. “She strives to be the best in everything she does.”
Similarly, Andover ski coach Tom Busta could have been referring to Padellaro, when he introduced Denoncourt: “His commitment is tremendous. His teammates adore him and his teachers adore him. He’s just a special young man.”
Both were special enough to win this year’s 17th annual Moynihan awards.
Padellaro — a New Hampshire Player of the Year in field hockey and a distinguished three-sport athlete — finished as the No. 2-ranked student in her senior class and has won numerous academic and athletic awards at Timberlane, including the school’s Female Athlete of the Year honor. In 12 seasons in field hockey, basketball and track, she was a six-time captain.
Denoncourt made his mark on the slopes as a three-time Eagle-Tribune Ski MVP and a two-time state champion. But he was also a captain and leader in cross country and a strong defensive catcher in baseball. Academically, he was in the top five percent of his class with a weighted GPA of 4.59 and scored an impressive 34 out of 36 on his ACT test.
Both Padellaro and Denoncourt could have similar career paths. Padellaro is headed to the University of New England where she will — in addition to playing field hockey — study biochemistry with a minor in coaching, hoping to become a pediatric oncologist. Denoncourt will study bioengineering at Northeastern and may become a doctor.
Denoncourt will focus on academics at Northeastern but, said guest speaker, Post-Graduate Achievement Award winner and 2003-04 Moynihan Male winner Andrew Weymouth, the lessons from being both a scholar and athlete will stay with you.
“I didn’t play sports at Notre Dame, but I learned a lot (from high school),” said Weymouth, a lawyer in Boston and a former Methuen valedictorian and distance running standout.
“It’s the best time of your life and it prepares you. And I would say, even if you don’t (play sports in college), pay attention to those in the non-revenue sports.”
Commitment and dedication were both prominent for the Moynihan winners, but there were others honored by Moynihan Wednesday for the same attributes.
Greater Lawrence three-sport coach Tony Sarkis was given the Lifetime Commitment Award for his years of building both winning teams (wrestling, football and track) and young men. Dan Dodson was presented the Lifetime Commitment Award for community.
Dodson, who now lives in Newton, N.H., has attended all 56 Dracut-Methuen football games, has been a huge Methuen booster and is also prominent in the running community as a president of the 65-Plus Running Club.
Finally, program head Gerard Moynihan gave a special award to Eagle-Tribune writer Mike Muldoon, who was the driving force in coordinating the Moynihan program since its inception in 2002. When it comes to dedication and commitment to a good cause, few can come close to him.
“Mike brings an absolute love for the kids,” said Moynihan. “I don’t think you could ask Mike about any high school athlete and he wouldn’t be able to tell you about him.”
Said sports editor Bill Burt: “Mike’s passion for athletes is unmatched and he’s always looking out for the little guy. Mike’s a special guy.”