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Saturday, October 1, 2022

Mansfield Athletic Award Series: Tigers of the Year

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Editor’s note…

Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the traditional Mansfield Tiger Booster Club Banquet to honor the athletic award winners of the 2019-2020 sports seasons were canceled. To publicize the athletes that won either conference, state, or local awards, this publication is offering a series of articles related to those participants that earned athletic accolades this school year. This final chapter of this series will announce the T. Franklin Boyd Mansfield Tigers of the Year.

2019-2020 T. Franklin Boyd Tiger of the Year Awards:

(contributions by MHS Coaches)

The T. Franklin Boyd Booster Club Tiger of the Year Award is given each year to the outstanding male and female senior high athlete. It is an award that considers athletic involvement, athletic success, academic history, and the spirit of the Tiger once rooted for by the late T. Franklin Boyd. This year, an extensive rubric based upon evidentiary data was established to help select the Tigers of the Year.

Through a public meeting of Booster Club officers, interested membership, coaches, and administration, that point system was finalized to help determine this most anticipated award. The new criteria were implemented this season to pare down a list of highly regarded nominees.

The T. Franklin Boyd Female Tiger of the Year:

Mansfield’s Female Athlete of the Year set a path towards this conclusion many moons ago. Currently a senior, this deserving athlete was once recognized as the “Freshman Rising Star”. The honor, awarded at the 2017 Booster Club Awards Banquet, sent notice to an athletic-minded community that her sports skills were worthy of watching.

Since that day, those skills continued to rise through a variety of sports. Count golf, volleyball, basketball, and softball as just a sample of the activities to which she caught the clouds. Accomplishments on the course, courts, or field followed her like footprints in the sand. Those impressions dug deep with All-District, All-Conference, Player of the Year, and State qualifying steps.

This past school year alone she picked up All-Conference honors and a Player of the Year award in golf. She also donned All-District armor through a hard-fought volleyball campaign. Both sports made their respective postseason State Tournaments. She spent the winter months preparing for a softball season that by all indications had the ingredients for a successful season. Although the team only got to play five games because of the Covid-19 shutdown, she was already pitching 1.2 strikeouts per inning and hitting the ball as well as anyone on the team.

Put this senior’s grade point average up against other athletes and you could easily tell why she stood out in the classroom as well as on the diamond. Ask a faculty member of her manners and conduct throughout a school day and you’d be equally impressed. Academic excellence, athletic efficiency, and citizenship characteristics certainly set this senior as the one to watch. Better yet, it set this senior as the one to rejoice!

This year’s T. Franklin Boyd Female Tiger of the Year award goes to Maggie Strunk. 

Maggie Strunk

The T. Franklin Boyd Male Tiger of the Year:

The Mansfield Tiger of the Year was described as “one of the most explosive players I have ever had the privilege to coach”. In the athletic world, you hear coaches speak of certain players and how the game has “slowed down” for them. With this Mansfield senior, it seemed his opponents were crawling.  

In football, opposing coaches refused to kick the ball to him. They’d rather kick the ball out of bounds and take a penalty. According to MaxPreps, a statewide statistical bank, this athlete ranked number one in the entire state for kickoff returns and total returns. Local outlets pegged him as the “Special Teams Player of the Year”. He produced the #1 “Sweetest Play of the Year” and was recognized as a River Valley Prep Football All-Star.

The collection of these accolades seemed forthright as evidenced by opposing defenses putting their best defender on him to try to stop him from getting the ball. No doubt, he had some electrifying moments this year. If you were fortunate enough to watch the games he played, you’d certainly agree. Long-distance touchdowns, high flying catches, and basketball dunks were a normal day at the office for him.

Believe it or not, athletics was not his whole world. He also led in the classroom. He finished in the top ten in his graduating class and received multiple academic scholarships. Had he wished, he could have also accepted any number of athletic scholarship offers as well.

This year’s T. Franklin Boyd Tiger of the Year goes to Layton Howard.

Layton Howard
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