NORTHFIELD - The Vermont Sportswriters and Sportscasters Association named David Ball of Orangeand Carmen Lagala of Montpelier as the 2005-06 Male and Female Athletes of the Year for the State ofVermont on Sunday at Norwich University.
"This says a lot about the whole state, especially central Vermont," Ball said. "I think the whole state is full of great athletes, but they're just not known. It's events such as this that are shedding light on the great athletes of this state."
Ball, a Spaulding High graduate, and Lagala, a graduate of Montpelier High, both told the full house at Plumley Armory that they were thankful for the support shown through the years by various groups, including their relatives, coaches and teammates.
"Thank you to my family and friends and even one of my former coaches (Newton Baker), who is here today, who got me running in third or fourth grade," Lagala said.
Following the ceremony, both athletes admitted they were slightly taken aback when their names were announced to retrieve the top award.
"It's great to be mentioned in the same breath with such great athletes, so that makes this even more important to me," Ball said.
One of the top receivers in the nation for three years, Ball returns to the University of New Hampshire football team on Monday for his senior year. After amassing had 1,551 yards and 24 touchdowns last season, he will be a tri-captain for the Wildcat team that has been voted No. 2 in the nation in at least one pre-season football poll.
Lagala, a sophomore, was undefeated during the regular season in the middle distances (400 to 1,000 meters). Lagala, the America East Indoor and Outdoor Champion in the 800 meters, had her unbeaten streak in the event snapped at the NCAA regionals.
"I'd like to get a lot further done in the next two years," she said. "I'm excited to be just a sophomore because I have two more years to develop as a runner."
The America East Indoor and Outdoor Champion in the 800 meters, Lagala finished 16th overall in 2:10.32 in the preliminary heat of the NCAA regional at the University of North Carolina A&T in Greensboro, N.C.
"I had a bad race this year in North Carolina - I was expecting to be a little faster," she said. "But it's something to learn from."
Lagala plans to take some well-deserved down time for a month before starting to work out again.
"I'll start training again on July 1," she said. "I'll start easy and do some cross-training, but really just take it easy. I need this time so that I don't get burnt out."
Ball and Lagala were selected from the 12 male and 12 female Athletes of the Month selected during 2005-06 by the Vermont Sportswriters and Sportscasters Association.
The Ralph Lapointe award was presented to both Jim Carter of Underhill, a retired teacher-coach and currently a volunteer assistant coach and academic adviser for UVM baseball, and David Heitkamp of Orwell, one of the prime founders of high school indoor track.
The VSSA Coaching Achievement Award was presented to Layne Higgs of St. Johnsbury Academy basketball and Bis Bisbee of Bellows Falls football and baseball for their legendary careers in developing students both in the classroom and in sports.
The VSSA also acknowledged Jay Michaud of Williston as the Vermont winner for The Champions Award, the top amateur football honor in the country last month. The award, presented by USA Football and the National Sportscasters and Sportswriters Association, noted Michaud's ongoing efforts to help create youth football in the Chittenden South School District area over the past decade.
Tyler Troescher of Winooski was picked for the Harmon Bove Memorial Scholarship, which goes to a student interested in sports with academic plans to study journalism. He will be a freshman at St. Michael's in the fall.
Gov. James Douglas also was on hand to offer comments to the honorees and to present all the monthly winners with a special state proclamation.
The male Athletes of the Month were: Chris Selbo of Woodstock Union tennis (May); Chris Wilkins of St. Johnsbury Academy track (June); Trevor Murphy of St. Johnsbury Country Club and Vermont Amateur golf (July); Nate Richard of Vergennes swimming (August); David Ball of Orange, Vt. and the University of New Hampshire football (September); Jason Ryan of Bellows Falls football (October); Ernie Bove of Mount St. Joseph football (November); Joe Fallon of UVM hockey (December); Jon Chaloux of Spaulding High basketball (January); Jake Esbjerg of Colchester High hockey (February); Tyrone Conley of Burlington High basketball (March); Kyle Brault of Milton and UVM baseball (April).
The female monthly winners were: Mackenzie Pratt of Lamoille Union softball (May); Jan Carlson of Brattleboro Union track (June); Ashley Pfaff of Vermont Lady Voltage and Vermont Twin State Soccer (July); Reggie Parker of Manchester, Vermont Women's Amateur Golf (August); Carson Laderoute of Rutland High soccer (September); Megan Foy of Danville High soccer (October); Dani Rayner of Westminster and St. Michael's College basketball (November); Jevy Rayner of Westminster and St. Michael's College basketball (December); Chelsea Furlani of Colchester High hockey (January); Alissa Sheftic of Essex High basketball (February); Jess Jaggars of Vergennes Union basketball (March); Carmen Lagala of Montpelier and UVM track (April).