Walter Ford

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June 7, 2013
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The Union Prep Sports Awards

With the 2012-13 prep sports seasons all wrapped up, the conference and section champs crowned and the all-league awards doled out, it’s time for The Union to name its top prep athletes, teams and coaches from the past academic year.

This year, like the year before, the winners of best prep male and female athlete reside in south county. Bear River seniors Justin Beskeen and Sara Schell are the 2012-13 Union Prep Athletes of the year, making it a Bruin sweep for the second straight year.

Beskeen, a senior, wins the award for the second year in a row as he again led the Bruin volleyball team deep into the playoffs and was the star of the basketball team.

On the basketball court, Beskeen averaged 21.6 points per game to go with 7.3 rebounds, 2.3 assists and 1.7 steals.

On the volleyball court, Beskeen’s athleticism was unmatched as his jumping ability and arm strength made him one of the most feared hitters in the Pioneer Valley League.

Beskeen was an All-PVL first-team selection in both sports, was named to the River Cats All-City team for basketball and was a Sacramento Bee All-City honorable mention for basketball. Beskeen will continue playing volleyball next season for the Cal State University, Northridge Matadors. He is the first Bear River boys volleyball player to get a Division I scholarship for volleyball.

Honorable mentions for the Male Athlete of the Year are Nevada Union’s Austin Marks (football, volleyball), Forest Lake Christian’s Kyle Soria (baseball, soccer) and Bear River’s Cody Heard (football, golf).

Schell, a senior, gets the award this year for her sheer dominance on the volleyball court. Earning the PVL MVP for the second straight season, she led the Lady Bruins to a share of the PVL title and their first Sac-Joaquin Section title since 1999 and only the second in school history. She was also named to the River Cats All-City girls volleyball team.

Schell was impressive on the court as her volleyball I.Q. was only matched by her physical skill. Opponents often winced in pain as a Schell kill would ricochet off their timid arms. Schell led the Lady Bruins with 481 kills throughout the season to go with a team-high in digs with 300. Schell also was second on the team in blocks and aces. Schell is continuing her volleyball career at San Jose State.

Honorable mentions for the Female Athlete of the Year are Sydney Porter (basketball, volleyball) from Nevada Union, Teryn Rath (volleyball, basketball, Swim) from Bear River and Emily Pearce (volleyball, basketball) from Forest Lake Christian.

The best male and female athletes are chosen based on several factors, including dominance in one’s sport, team’s success, leadership, statistics and total number of sports played. This year’s choices were tough and did not go without careful examination by The Union sports staff, but when all was said and done, we felt Beskeen and Schell best exemplified what we look for in a standout athlete.

This year’s award winner for best coach is also out of south county, as Matt MacDonald gets the nod for his efforts with the Bear River girls volleyball team. MacDonald may have had a senior-laden team and the league’s MVP, but he got the Lady Bruins to a place they haven’t been since 1999. And just because Phil Jackson had Jordan doesn’t mean he didn’t deserve his coach of the year award.

MacDonald’s volleyball team went 31-13, won a share of the PVL title, won the section title and went as deep into the state playoffs as any Lady Bruins team before them. MacDonald also coached the Bear River junior varsity girls basketball team to a league title.

MacDonald showed great knowledge, leadership and the ability to keep a level head on the sidelines, proving that he’s an effective coach who doesn’t need to scream to get his point across.

Honorable mentions for coach of the year are John McDaniel (girls basketball) at Nevada Union, Ralph Burnett (co-ed tennis) Forest Lake Christian and Jason Bohrer (softball) at Bear River.

Finally, we name the best team from the 2012-13 year, and like the Oscars, where the winner of best director usually wins best picture, we follow suit. MacDonald’s Lady Bruin volleyball team is this year’s winner for best team.

From start to finish, this team was not only a premiere squad talent-wise but always upbeat and carried itself with pride and great sportsmanship. In every win, the girls were poised and respectful and the same for every loss. Their talent led to wins — their character as a team led to them being named the team of the year.

Honorable mentions for best team are the co-ed tennis team from Forest Lake Christian, the boys volleyball team from Nevada Union and the girls basketball team from Bear River.

To contact Sports Editor Walter Ford, call 530-477-4232 or email

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The Union Updated Jun 8, 2013 12:29AM Published Jun 7, 2013 11:26PM Copyright 2013 The Union. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.