Award winners announced at Superior Sr. High Sports Banquet

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All the athletes honored at the Superior Athletic Banquet. Photo by Debbie Torres

  Superior High School Principal and Athletic Director William Duarte emceed the annual Sports Awards Banquet, which took place on Wednesday, May 15, at the school.

  Several of the Panthers athletic programs have achieved highest level of success, especially in recent years thanks, in part, to talented classes that have gone through the school. This year no exception.

  “It’s a dream I’ve had for a long time,” Duarte said about the dual success of the school’s student-athletes. “It starts at the junior high and we want to build successful programs.”

  “Winning isn’t everything,” he continued. “The biggest thing I can say about these kids is their hard work. The rewards for that work are coming to fruition and that’s my happiest time.”

  Seniors Augie-Lou Hing, Korrina Romero, Jesus Castellanos, and junior Sammy Lopez were the recipients of the top awards at the event. All four are multi-sport student-athletes. 

  Hing, the Female Co-Athlete of the Year, who was named Co-Best Offensive Player for the Superior volleyball team and MVP of the girls’ basketball team, played three sports as a senior, including tennis. She also played softball as a freshman. Her post-graduation plans include attending Arizona State University to study “Human Development and Family Studies with a minor in Secondary Education and possibly Pre-law or Pre-med.”

  While Hing hasn’t completely committed to a long-term career choice, her immediate plans are clear.

  “I want to be a high school teacher in Superior and give back by coaching sports and building leadership opportunities through clubs,” she said.

  She counts receiving an award named after a former teammate as her most memorable athletic achievement at Superior.

  “Being named a Rose Award recipient,” Hing answered. “Julissa embodied every trait an athlete should have, and for my basketball teammates to recognize me is an honor. She was my driving force. Every game was dedicated to our sixth man and now that I have to say goodbye, I know generations to follow will continue to play for her and play like her.”

  How has participating in athletics better prepared Hing for the next chapter of her life and beyond?

  “The ability to step on the court and play with heart, determination, and dedication has really shaped who I am,” she responded. “With that said, without the support and encouragement from family, friends, coaches, and teammates I would not be the person I am. Playing sports as a Panther gives you power to know you can tackle anything.

  “Sports and schoolwork go hand in hand, and I think it’s important for every student athlete to achieve and break expectations. If you have a dream to play in college it takes focus, but I know Superior will help with reaching (any) goal.”

  Romero, the Female Co-Athlete of the Year, who was named Co-Best Offensive Player for the Superior volleyball team and MVP of the Pantherettes softball team, participated in three sports as a senior, including cheer. Her post-graduation plans include “attending college and furthering my education” to earn a bachelor’s degree in nursing, which will allow her to purse a career in the medical field.

  Her most memorable athletic achievement? That’s an easy one.

  “Winning a state championship last year in softball and being able to experience playing on that ASU field again with my team this year,” she responded. “It was amazing and (unforgettable).  Those are memories I will forever cherish.”

  How has participating in athletics better prepared Hing for the next chapter of her life and beyond?

  “Participating in athletics at SHS has (taught) me that you have to work hard and strive to always be your best,” she said. “Giving up is never the answer to anything. It has [also] shown me that if you put your heart and desire in anything you will reach your goals.

  “Thank you for all the love, support and knowledge, SHS. You have done me so well and I am so honored and proud to be and always will be, a Superior Panther.”

  Castellanos, a three-sport athlete – football, baseball and basketball – for three of his fours years at Superior was the Manny Ruiz Award recipient a year ago. This year he was named the Male Athlete of the Year, in addition to Outstanding Guard on the basketball team and the recipient of a baseball Coaches Award. His post-graduation plans include attending Mesa Community College, where he’ll study Criminal Justice. His long-term career plans are “to become a police officer and eventually work my way up as a SWAT officer.”

  Ending a certain drought is Castellanos’ most memorable athletic memory.

  “Doing something that hasn’t been done in Superior for 64 years – bringing home a football state championship trophy,” he said.

  How has participating in athletics better prepared Hing for the next chapter of his life and beyond?

  “It taught me how to work as a team and to have my brothers’ backs no matter what happens, and it taught me how to push myself beyond limits,” he answered.

  Sammy Lopez, a three-sport athlete – basketball, football and baseball – as a junior was the recipient of the Manny Ruiz Award, which is given each year to the student-athlete who displays good citizenship, excels academically, exhibits grit, and performs well on the court or on the field.

  “It’s a pleasure to win the Manny Ruiz Award because it shows the hard work that I put in,” Lopez said.

  With one year left at Superior, Lopez is looking forward to a final year of participating in athletics.

  “I’m looking forward to playing sports and making more memories with my teammates, aka brothers, and most importantly graduating,” he said.

  Lopez is one of several Panthers that has won multiple state championships at the school. Clearly, those are his most memorable athletic achievements.

  “Winning a state championship for baseball my freshman year and also winning a state championship for football my junior year,” he said.

This year’s winners.
More winners.
Andy Luberda (1141 Posts)

Andrew Luberda began writing for Copper Area News Publishers (CANP) in February 2013 after working 15 years in Healthcare Financial Management. Andy covers sports for 11 high schools. His stories are published in Copper Basin News, San Manuel Miner and Superior Sun, in addition to the San Tan Valley Daily PRSS and CopperArea websites. Additionally, he has written human interest stories and business profiles. In May 2012, he earned an AAS in Sports Management at Central Arizona College before graduating with a BS in Communication from Arizona State University in 2014. He and his wife, Kelli, have three sons – AJ, Kyle, and Kade.

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