GLENDALE — They were honored with all-league awards, were recognized at team banquets and were praised in the community for their accomplishments throughout the year.
Before the school year finished, local athletes had one more opportunity to be acknowledged for their feats at the third annual Athletes with Character and Ethics (ACE) Awards on Monday at the Alex Theatre.
Athletes from Glendale Community College and Glendale, Hoover and Crescenta Valley high schools were distinguished for demonstrating outstanding athletic skill, sportsmanship, citizenship and leadership. The event was sponsored by the Character and Ethics Project of Glendale, the Glendale Adventist Medical Center and Glendale Arts, among others.
At the end of the night, it was a student who never competed who drew the loudest and longest applause.
Ronald de los Reyes — a senior with special needs from Glendale High — won the high school spirit award, drawing a standing ovation from the administrators, guests and student-athletes in the crowd.
"I wanted this victory," said Reyes, who served as a motivator on sidelines of football, soccer and basketball games and was the selected as the most spirited Nitro by his classmates. "I am so very happy. I love Glendale High."
No other Nitro might adore the school more than Reyes.
"He's always 100% spirited," Glendale High assistant principal Rene Valdes said. "He truly loves Glendale High. He loves wearing his jersey. We'll never have another Ronald who can match his enthusiasm and love for a school."
CV senior Pavle Atanackovic, who was the All-Area Boys' Soccer Player of the Year, won the High School Male Athlete of the Year award. Atanackovic led the CV squad to its first Division IV championship this past season. His coach, Grant Clark, was named the Coach of the Year for a Male Team sport.
"It's nice to be recognized for things on the field, but it's more important to be recognized for things we do off the field," Clark said. "Pavle is a great player. He deserves the recognition that he gets for the work he does on the field and off the field."
Hoover's Kariz Alberto, an All-Pacific League second-team selection, was awarded the High School Female Athlete of the Year.
"It means a lot," Alberto said. "I didn't expect it to happen. We worked hard and tried our best this year."
The CV baseball team, which won the Pacific League title for the first time since 2008, was selected as the High School Male Team of the Year.
The Hoover High girls' basketball team, despite not winning a game in league, was honored with the High School Female Team with Character and Ethics award.
"This means a whole lot," Tornadoes girls' basketball Coach Stan Watson said. "I've always told the young ladies that basketball does not define us in terms of wins and losses. Our effort, our commitment, and our determination to compete speaks volumes.
"I was very proud of them to be able to stick it out when times were handing it to us. We persevered."
Glendale college was also honored in similar categories.
The college's baseball team, which advanced to the Super Regionals for a second consecutive year, won the award for Glendale College Male Team of the Year. The golf team was awarded the Glendale College Female Team of the Year. The Vaqueros' golf team won the Southern California Regional for the first time in program history and finished second in the California Community College Athletic Assn. Women's Golf Championships in Hanford.
Glendale College offensive lineman Sam Campbell was awarded the Male Leadership Award and Sophia Amodia of Glendale High won the Female Leadership Award. Amodia captured the Pacific League titles in the 100- and 300-meter hurdle events.
Dave Wilder, who led the Vaquero softball program to a historic team run, as it reached the California Community College Athletic Assn.'s Southern California Super Regionals for the first time in its history, was the Coach of the Year for a female team sport.
Vaqueros quarterback Kevin Hunter was awarded the Glendale College Male Athlete with Character and Ethics of the Year honor. GCC basketball standout Amanda Manahan won the Glendale College Female Athlete with Character and Ethics of the Year award.