Five Kenston athletes, one team and a Bomber athletic trainer as well as two Hawken School athletes and an athletic trainer were recognized during the second University Hospitals Sports Medicine Athlete Awards May 31 at First Energy Stadium in Cleveland.
Drawing from across Northeast Ohio, with UH Sports Medicine providing athletic training services to 55 local high schools and colleges, honors were awarded to team of the year, male and female athletes of the year, comeback athlete of the year and athletic trainer of the year as well as recipients of the community and compassion awards.
Kenston 2019 graduate Anna Sanders won the female athlete of the year award among a pool of 11 nominees, also including fellow Lady Bombers Victoria Hammerle, Anna Rini and Izzy Gabram. Chagrin Falls graduate and three-time Olympic medalist swimmer Diana Munz DePetro presented her award.
Sanders became the first female in Kenston football history to play in a state championship game. In addition to helping her football team win the 2018 Division III state title, Sanders is a soccer and lacrosse athlete.
In the state championship game, Sanders went six-of-six in extra-point kicks. She split the uprights on 92 percent of her PATs as a senior and finished her career at 88 percent. Her efficiency was impressive for any athlete, not just a female. Off the field, Sanders carried a 3.8 GPA.
One of her nominators stated that she has shown such great courage and motivation proving herself against the odds as a female in a male-dominated sport. After every game, young girls and even young boys would run up to her and ask for autographs and pictures. Sanders would talk to them at their level and make their night.
She has spent this year breaking records along with gender barriers and inspiring young girls all over the community that they can do anything. Sanders is pursuing her football career at Division II Ashland University in the fall.
Also taking home hardware for Kenston, Viviani McKinney won the 2019 Dr. Thomas C. McLaughlin Athletic Trainer of the Year award among a pool of 10 nominees, which also included Hawken School athletic trainer Sarah Royan. The award is named after one of the four founding members of the Sports Medicine Program at UH.
McKinney had multiple nominations from her student-athletes, student-athletic trainers and her athletic director. Her commitment to keeping athletes safe, teaching her students and ensuring she is providing exceptional care every game and practice awarded her the recognition.
Hawken School 2019 graduate Evan Ditchman was awarded the Art of Compassion Award, as presented by Hawken team doctor James Voos.
During his junior season, Ditchman sustained a traumatic brain injury during a football game that required emergency surgery. After his recovery, he returned to the football sidelines as soon as he could to support his team for the remainder of the year. He quickly returned to the classroom and picked up his academic load, just weeks after his surgery. When spring came around, he didn’t miss a beat and was able to practice and compete in the outdoor track season.
Hawken athletic trainer Royan said, “You would have never known that a few months before things were very uncertain for Evan. Evan was absolutely devastated when he learned that he couldn’t play football, the sport he loved most. He was not ready to give the sport up and decided that he wanted to stay with the program and be a student assistant coach. He showed his love of the game by teaching others how to play.”
Ditchman will attend Dartmouth College in the fall, where he will major in engineering and serve as a student-assistant coach for the Division I Big Green football team.
Also, Ditchman was one of five nominees for the comeback athlete of the year award, as was Kenston 2019 graduate Dorion Talley.
Hawken 2019 graduate Michael Snyder was one of eight nominees for the male athlete of the year award.
And the Kenston football program was nominated for the team of the year award.