2008 Maurice Batie Award of Excellence Recipient
2008 winner Ashley Suapaia (left) with 2007 winner Naomi Johnson
The following speech was made by 2007 Mo Award winner, Naomi Johnson on June 4, 2008 as she presented the 2008 Maurice Batie Award of Excellence.
Last year, when my name was called to receive the Maurice Batie award I was overwhelmed with the gratitude I felt to be honored with this award. I had heard about its meaning year after year and seen many of my role models receive it. But I never really understood the significance of the award until I began preparing this speech. I was reading the tribute Adam wrote about Maurice Batie that's posted on the website and I realized how honored I should feel to be considered worthy of his highest compliments: 'a player' and 'a good person.' I know that the winner of the 2008 award Maurice Batie award is more than worthy of these attributes.
In Maurice Batie's opinion, 'good people' are those with principles, integrity and a positive attitude. Maurice would have no trouble seeing this year's winner as a good person. People love to be around her, because her energy, enthusiasm and charismatic personality are infectious. She is inviting and caring towards everyone; I can't remember a time when she has shown negativity on or off the court; she's a loyal teammate and a valued friend to everyone who's lucky enough to be with her! There's really no end to what I could say about her wonderful character.
Looking to the volleyball court, this girl is undoubtedly a player by Maurice Batie's standards! You can't find many people with her natural ability and knowledge of the game. But Maurice looked for more than that. He looked past the talent and natural athleticism and, recognizing the dedication it takes to succeed. This year's winner has a fire on the court that I've never seen in anyone else! Her drive to win makes her a frustrating opponent and an even better teammate. Whether in a match, at practice, or just playing around, I've never seen her play volleyball and not give 100%.
As Maurice Batie knew, anyone with these qualities is bound for success. Our winner tonight is no exception. She has made a huge impact on every team she's been on. During the club season she's won All-American awards, while helping to lead her current team to compete in the Open Division of USJO's. During high school, she has been team captain for three straight years while helping to lead her varsity team to some of the best seasons in her high school's history. I had the pleasure of playing with her four of those five years and I'm thrilled to be competing against her for three more when she moves on to play in the Big Ten Conference at the University of Minnesota this fall.
I'm proud to present this year's Maurice Batie Award winner: Ashley Suapaia.