MIDLOTHIAN – The theme of the Midlothian end of season soccer banquet was “A Picture-Perfect Year.” If the season was picture-perfect, Thursday’s banquet was the frame to showcase it.
A room full of players, parents and supporters turned out to honor the Panther and Lady Panther programs at the varsity and sub-varsity levels. The athletes who spent the last year working hard to make the season special were honored for their time and effort.
“When you get a chance to recognize everybody with their proper due, up in front, everybody gets to see you, district accomplishments and you get up on stage it’s a good way to end a season and everybody finally gets their due, even if they’re not seniors,” girls coach Sid Danner said. “Everybody gets to see what’s going on. It’s a great way to end a very positive season.”
Before the honors were distributed, Midlothian athletes and fans were reminded that not too long ago such an evening didn’t exist. Guest speaker Doug Hankins, a former Midlothian soccer parent and founding member of the booster club, addressed the crowd and marveled at how big and elaborate the banquet had become.
Hankins, whose son and daughter played at Midlothian, both went on to highly successful college careers. He addressed the players and parents on what it takes to earn your way on to the collegiate level and stressed the need for hard work if it’s a path players want to go down.
With that insight into the future shared, the evening turned to honoring the recent past as players from the junior varsity teams were called on to the stage to receive their awards for the season. Daisy McDonald, the JV2 girls coach, honored her team’s 4-6-3 season while JV2 boys coach David Sullivan commended his crew for a 7-7-2 performance.
First-year Midlothian coach Charles Nobles brought the JV1 boys and girls teams up on stage after a very strong season. The girls finished 13-2-3 overall while the boys were 11-2-5.
After the sub-varsity honors, coaches Danner and Austin Guest recognized the boys and girls teams for their commitment to the game. Player certificates were handed out along with all-district honors.
The night was capped with the presentations of the Brandon Palady Memorial Scholarships. Palady, a former Panther soccer standout, was killed in an accident during his first year of college. Guest, who coached Palady in high school, went to his parents with the idea of starting a soccer tournament to raise money for a scholarship program that would be given out to graduating Midlothian players.
Today, the tournament fields more than 100 teams in a variety of different age groups and the organization gives out about $5,000 worth of scholarship money every year at varying levels.
Students apply for the scholarship and are awarded based on their volunteer efforts as well as work ethic on the soccer field. Kyle Markwardt, Isaac Arrington, Zach Burson, Tyler Threadgill, Emigidio Arvizu, Zach Carlberg, Ashley Seeton, Brie Munoz, Chelsea Wood, Liz Williams and Kali Danner received the honors this season.
For Guest, awarding the honors always bring a mixed bag of emotions.
“It’s a very bittersweet thing. You hate to be in the situation where we have to memorialize anybody. But it’s great every year to see the work that goes into that tournament and the tournament take place and all the kids that play in tournament and all the joy that come to people from playing in that tournament. It reminds me of the way Brandon had a passion for playing soccer,” Guest said.
“For everyone to work together and help other kids have the chance to go to college and get their degrees and go on and do things in life that’s a wonderful way for him to continue to accomplish the things he was trying to accomplish and for his family to help see that carried on in others.”