Varsity Brands School Spirit Awards

2020 Finalist Features

Congratulations to all of the finalists from the 2020 Varsity Brands School Spirit Awards! Varsity Brands is moved by the dedication and commitment these individuals, groups and schools have to elevating the student experience on their campus each and every day. Below you will find some standout stories of those who have gone above and beyond to raise school spirit, build community pride, and increase student engagement.

Varsity Brands will be featuring finalists from a new category every few days. Check back in as we feature new finalists!

Andrew Dyer | Jefferson City High School | Jefferson City, MO

Andrew Dyer shocked many when this talented, state-ranked track runner also became the first male dancer on the Jefferson City High School Dance Team. Between his commitments to academics, track, and now dance, He is an insanely hard worker. When you pair that with his natural raw talent, strength, athleticism, style and showmanship he is a dance powerhouse.  Even though he is 1 of 15 adopted children and suffered a childhood of abuse and inconsistent parental guidance prior to his adoption, he is kind-hearted, committed, and always making self-improvements. He constantly plans get-togethers for informal practice, encourages the rest of his team to rehearse and get in the weight room, all in the most respectful way. Andrew’s courageous act of stepping outside his comfort zone resulted in four younger boys attending the JCHS dance team mini clinic, because they, “want to be just like Andrew.” That is the definition of school spirit.

Jacious Clark | Fayetteville High School | Fayetteville, TN

Jacious Clark is known as one of the most inspiring athletes that has ever walked the halls of Fayetteville High School. Playing both football and basketball, Jacious has racked up some impressive stats – stats that could paint a picture of someone that is solely dedicated to sports and training. However, Jacious excels in the classroom, serves as a peer tutor, and is widely recognized by the entire teaching staff for his work ethic and achievement. Jacious goes to the local elementary school for one hour each day to work with students in a first-grade class as a tutor and peer mentor. Through this opportunity, he can work with students who face some of the same home-life challenges as his own and help them to persevere in the classroom and on the field. Jacious is a Cinderella story, one with a very bright and meaningful future ahead.

Andrea Bouwhuis | Bingham High School | South Jordan, UT

Andrea Bouwhuis is the first female athletic director at Bingham High School in South Jordan, Utah. You’ll always be able to find her near a gym, field, track, or pool ready to help the competing athletes and coaches with whatever they need. Each week she sends out an email promoting Bingham athletics and has even worked to have athletic events at Bigham shared through live stream. She ensures that each member of the faculty and staff have their own Miner gear to wear on Fridays. She has even added Miner pride to the hallways and locker rooms at Bingham, by having hallway wraps made that represent great legacy of Bingham athletics. Andee keeps an eye on all of the athletes’ academics and how they are working with teachers and others in the school. She also encourages them to support each other by modeling support for all teams. Andee is responsible for establishing a “signing day” assembly at Bingham, which features male and female seniors who have committed to play at the collegiate level. Her inspiration to keep athletes safe, celebrated and motivated speaks volumes at Bingham High School, and knows that spirit is the center of success.

 

Chris Passamano | Stamford High School | Stamford, CT

Since Chris Passamano joined Stamford High School just two years ago, he’s embodied leadership, teamwork and worked hard to increase school spirit across all sports programs. As a federally designated low-income school, Chris noticed too many athletes underperforming simply because they were not getting enough to eat outside of school. Chris looked for grants as a solution and was able to do so with the Stamford High School Supper Program. This grant, the first of its kind in the country, provides portable after school meals at the conclusion of the school day. The goal was to keep students at school and provide a meal that would allow for them to refuel for practice and games and be better prepared for their studies afterward. Additionally, when Chris took over, he recognized that Stamford did not have adequate emergency action plans (EAPs) or automated external defibrillator (AED) coverage. He set out to create the EAPs for each location and secured five new AEDs via grant. This year, he was fortunate enough to save a life with the use of this equipment. Chris supports all sports, and he ensures they all support each other. He also makes sure all sports teams support other school groups, clubs, performing arts, etc. Chris is a staple to Stamford High School Athletics.

Diane King | South Forsyth High School | Cumming, GA

Diane King provides first-class care to over 800 athletes and 22 Varsity sports at South Forsyth High School. She works closely with coaches, officials, administrators, parents and athletes to coordinate the best personalized care plan for the individual, sports, venue or injury. She can always point a student-athlete in the right direction and maintains a calming presence when adversity strikes. Diane is often “on call” for multiple events and is always only a text away. She implemented a school-wide physical day for all athletes, making mandatory screenings accessible for all students while raising money for the athletic department across all sports. Diane excels in her job as the school’s Athletic Trainer, but what sets her apart is her ability to do so with humor, poise and spirit. Due to exponential growth and new schools being built, South Forsyth has had to split up twice in twelve years, causing new local rivals. Her presence on social media surrounding school spirit, respect and pride has a major influence on the students. Her enthusiasm and unwavering spirit have been excellent for maintaining school culture and re-building War Eagle pride each time the school has split.

Kiyun Lynch | Atrisco Heritage Academy High School | Albuquerque, NM

According to those at Atrisco Heritage Academy High School, Kiyun Lynch is head and shoulders above the rest in the entire state of New Mexico. The passion Kiy has for his job is inspiring not only to his student athletes, but the whole community. On average, Kiy receives over fifty injuries a month, ranging from sprained ankles to torn ACL’s and many more. He develops a recovery plan for each athlete, specific to their needs, and makes sure they have a full understanding of their injury and recovery before they leave his office. He is so passionate about his field that he sacrifices his weekends to ensure the athletes stay on track for recovery and offers his time and effort to help other schools in the state with a shortage of athletic trainers. Throughout the state, Kiy’s dedication has been recognized by many. His commitment is demonstrated through him teaching classes, attending games, competitions, matches, etc. Through his work, he shares both his knowledge and devotion to his students who someday aspire to fill his shoes. He also makes it a priority to attend all sporting events of Atrisco Heritage. Kiy makes the effort to take care of both his athletes at school and his family at home. Many athletes look up to him as an example of a positive role model, and he can even be viewed as a father figure. He doesn’t settle for anything less than the best for Atrisco Heritage, his family and himself.

Columbia High School | East Greenbush, NY

Columbia High School was one of the first New York State Athletic programs to commit to being a part of the Unified Sports Initiative. The Unified Sports Initiative is inclusive sports programs that bring students with and without disabilities together in a single sports team program with authentic competitions. One of Columbia High School’s mottos at school is “Choose to Include”. Columbia High School encouraged their state section to add an additional Unified sport – bowling. They have continued to see growth in participation and a deep impact of the student body. Columbia creates a community where everyone’s ideas and talents are recognized, and every student’s development is important. Attending Unified games at Columbia, one can’t help but feel the school spirit in the gym. It doesn’t end there. It is present and evident everywhere, from the hallways to the common areas to the number of students representing Columbia through their apparel. Blue Devil pride is strong, and EVERYONE identifies at a Blue Devil.

 

Trabuco High School | Mission Viejo, CA

Trabuco Hills High School started an “Inclusion Revolution”. Trabuco Hills HS was the first Unified Champion School in Orange County, California.  They created and implemented the first inclusive Unified Physical Education class in all of California.  The goal was to bring students with and without intellectual and developmental disabilities together not as “buddies,” but as equitable classmates and peers—with an equal mix of students in a 50/50 ratio. This resulted in unified athletes being voted as homecoming king and queen, unified athletes receiving Varsity letter, unified pairs delivering speeches at graduation, and more. Together with the help of all students, staff, and administrators, Trabuco Hills won the GOAL Award (Grazer Outstanding Achievement in Learning) for inclusive programing in all of California as well as the 2019 Golden Bell Award for Equity and Access for the state of California. Trabuco Hills High School truly started a revolution, and continues to strive to embrace equality, respect, kindness, and acceptance throughout their campus and community.