Suring's Stegeman Named TIMESLand Top AthleteIssue Date: July 26, 2017
With another school year fast approaching the voting is in for the 2016-17 Peshtigo Times Female Athlete of the Year.
Leading the list this year is Suring's Katie Stegeman. A standout in volleyball, basketball, and track.
Number two was taken by Marinette's Kim Carviou, a runner of the highest caliber, who proved herself in State ross country and track.
Becky Berth of Oconto secured the third spot due to some excellent softball play. She also distinguished herself in basketball and track.
Peshtigo's Shae Tonn locked up the fourth spot this year. Volleyball, basketball and softball, all sports Tonn showed prowess in.
Wrapping up the top five is none other than Coleman's Ashlee Mayer a three-sport athlete that was nearly unstoppable in volleyball, played some determined basketball and owned third base for Coleman softball.
When talking to the many coaches that helped to nurture these fabulous athletes all had something similar to say and it's no surprise. Hard work, determination, teamwork and most doing it with a smile on her face. The enjoyment of love of the sport is what drives all else. Accomplishments mean nothing if the one earning them doesn't truly care about the endeavor they venture on.
These athletes are no exception. No matter the sport, they showed love of the game above all else. A true desire to compete. The accolades just came in the process.
Suring's Katie Stegeman is the area's top athletes, no doubt about that. Whether she was blowing up the net for the Eagles' volleyball program or clearing the high jump bar at the WIAA state track and field meet, she distinguished herself as a standout athlete. From this reporter's perspective she was also very humble about everything she did. It was never just Katie accomplishing these tasks, but the Eagles as a whole that did. When she did celebrate, it was with her team and a small smile.
"Wow it just feels incredible," said Stegeman of her top spot. "All my hard work has led to this. I had a lot of goals coming into my senior year, and being in the top five was one of them, but I never dreamed I'd be at the top of the list! I'm so grateful to the community and Peshtigo Times for honoring not only my hard work and success, but many others as well. I couldn't think of a more perfect way to end my four amazing years at Suring."
Stegeman went on to say a little about what some of her accomplishments mean to her, "It meant so much to be selected as volleyball MVP of the conference this year. It was my #1 goal for senior year. My teammates and I work incredibly hard, and I know none of my individual success would have happened without them. After all what's a great hitter without a perfect pass and set! Being 1 of 4 athletes down in LaCrosse was an amazing honor. Participating at the highest level in high school sports while wearing Suring across my chest one last time was a dream come true. I'm so glad I was able to help shine a light on Suring girls' athletics during my four years."
The Athlete of the Year article always focuses on what an athlete does in the that year of sporting, but it would be a mistake to disregard the experiences gained through the years leading up to this. Stegeman reflected on her past career with her Eagles saying, "Wow I can barely remember being a freshman. All the honors and accolades seemed so far out of reach at that age. I have grown so much as a student, athlete, and person throughout my four years at Suring High School. Suring is an awesome community and I am so fortunate to have grown up here. None of my successes would have been possible without my teachers, coaches, friends, and family. They have helped me reach ALL of my goals and without their support my name would not be in the #1 spot. The wins, awards, medals and honors mean a lot to me, but these aren't the most important things I will take away from my high school career. All the relationships and memories I have made will stay with me for the rest of my life. It has truly been an honor to represent such an amazing school and community."
Looking to the earlier part of the season Stegeman took to the volleyball court for the Eagles, and every team and the conference knew she was there. Middle of the net? That was Katie territory. Just talk to any of the girls that went up against her. They may not admit it but 87 percent of the time their eyes were closed and faces were scrunched prepared to take a 50 mph kill attempt off the face. 50 mph is an understatement, those kills looked like they were approaching the speed of light. Word is NASA is looking into Stegeman's ability to send subatomic particles the speed of light. But all joking aside.,Stegeman was dangerous. But the danger wasn't just at the net, her serving was also outstanding.
"Ace. Boom!" something the Eagles girls got used to saying. Coach Kruschke couldn't say enough about this standout, who was there all four years of her high school career.
"Katie's goal going into the season was to earn MVP for our conference. She has been a solid player all three years on varsity and continued to grow each season. Katie is a quiet leader on the floor. She shows her strengths through her play. She is also the player that continued to keep our team goal of winning conference in the forefront. It was about our success as a team with each game," said Kruschke.
Though the Eagles struggled to gain ground on the basketball court they certainly didn't play like they were in the cellar. Stegeman was a huge part of what made this team tough. Her height in the lane and shot ability was there, it just didn't produce the numbers needed for the Eagles to get near the top of the conference. Oh well, you win some you lose some, that's life.
Stegeman flew to new heights this season on the track and field courses of the area. At the State meet where she placed sixth in the high jump with a heigth of 5'2''.
"She made it to state last year," said Suring Track Coach Heidi Gerndt. "I have been taking her to state since junior high so she knows what it's like and how bad she wants to be there. She missed as a sophomore but made it a junior. Her senior year she was consistant. She had a few bad weeks but started to really jump well toward the end, from conference on she took off. I know I'm biased since she is my niece. The turning point of the season was when she realized how she had to adjust and started to build her confidence. I thought she jumped very well at state. She is also a determined student, ending the year as a valedictorian. She always did her job and was respectful to her coaches and teammates. She was a quiet leader, sometimes I wished she would say more, but that's just who they are and I'd never ask them to be something they are not."
Second on the list this season was Marinette's Kim Carviou. With a gas tank ten times bigger than most athletes in the division 2 NEC. She showed that she never breaks down on the track, never! Running on fumes? Carviou is like a smart car with a Ferrari engine. 40 mpg highway? psssh, Carviou was getting somewhere around 10 miles per calorie. Effiecnt, clean, and fast. A true smart runner.
Carviou commented that ,"Marinette athletics have taught me life lessons I don't think I could have gotten anywhere else. I've learned that once you push yourself outside your comfort zone, great things are bound to happen. I've also learned that you can't just expect success, you have to be willing to put in the hard work and never make excuses as to why you weren't the best. I have had the best support team. My coaches have helped me become a better person. They really do care for us athletes like we're their own. My teammates always cheer each other on. It's like we are a big family here, I'd be lost without them. But my family has also been extremely supportive. My mom has been at every meet and the rest of my family has always tried to make as much as they can."
Over the past year Carviou has competed in cross country, basketball and track & field.
Her Cross Country season ended with a trip to Wisconsin Rapids for the State C.C. meet where she completed the course in 19:54.14 for a 16th place finish.
She ended the track and field season with outstanding marks at the WIAA D2 meet in LaCrosse as well, completing the 1600 meter run in 5:13.05 for a 5th place finish and 2:20.46 in the 800 meters for a 9th place finish.
Oconto's Becky Berth came in at third on this year's list an did the task with an exemplary year with the Blue Devils where she competed in volleyball, basketball and softball.
Becky's softball coach gave a few reasons as to why Berth was such a great softballer.
"I have had the opportunity to coach Becky for four years as a varsity pitcher," said Coach Jeremy Wusterbarth. "Becky has had an amazing career as a pitcher for Oconto going 81-22 as a four year starter, pitched 9 no-hitters and finished with 727 strikeouts. She is arguably one of the hardest working players I've had the opportunity to coach and her desire to win is second to none. She hit .624 overall this year with 51 RBI's and was named the player of the year in the Packerland Conference for the second year in a row. Her work outside of the normal practice days is what sets her apart from most, she is always working endless hours both hitting and pitching outside of practice and for her, it's year round."
"I was very excited to hear that I was chosen as one of the areas top athletes," said Berth. "I think overall my experiences with the Oconto athletic program were extremely positive. Everything didn't always go the way we wanted but along the way I always had a great time. my teammates were awesome. I'd like to thank all my coaches for helping me learn and better my skill in all the sports I played."
Placing fourth on the list was Peshtigo's Shae Tonn who dazzled many Bulldog fans this season with her play across three sports. She was a threat on at the net in volleyball, a quick and deceptive basketball player and was more than tough on the diamond of Peshtigo softball.
"I was surprised and happy to learn I made the list, because I know there were a lot of great athletes this year," said Tonn. "My teammates have helped me tremendously because we have been playing together since we were in elementary school. Also, I am thankful for the opportunity the the coaches gave me here. I played as a freshman in all three sports, which gave me the skills I needed to succeed. My sister Teja has also helpeded greatly. For the past two years she pushed and help make me the player I am today. I'm very thankful for my supportive family that has always encouraged me to do better."
Tonn started the sporting season off with volleyball. On the courts for Peshtigo, Tonn was a deadly hitter as well as a spot on server.
"Shae was a third year letter winner on varsity and was selected as honorable mention her freshmen year, 2nd team all-conference her sophomore and junior years," said Peshtigo Head Volleyball coach Robin Gilligan. "Shae is a solid all around player who could play just about any position on the court. Her athleticism and versatility allow her to add many dimensions to her game. She has been a strong outside hitter for the last three years and she was also one of my best passers and defensive players. Shae is a leader by example and has an outstanding work ethic on the court and in the classroom. I expect great things from her this coming volleyball season."
After finishing up her volleyball season Tonn went on to do great things on the basketball court. She had a solid shot and always was deadly in the lane when drviing and stoping drives.
During Tonn's 2016-17 basketball season she averaged 9.7 points, 4.7 rebounds, 3.2 assists and 3.4 steals per a game in M & O Conference play and was chosen as a first team all-conference player. Overall, she averaged 9.0 points, 5.0 rebounds, 3.0 assists and 3.0 steals on the season. She was also a team captain.
Coach Pete Villas was more than impressed with his standout performer, "I'm very happy to hear Shae has been chosen as one of the top athletes of the year and couldn't be more proud of her. She is a very smart player and really understands the game from all aspects. She was like having a coach on the floor and relayed what was going on to both her teammates and me. She always leads by example and practices just as hard as she plays. She is an extremely unselfish and humble player who gets a ton of satisfaction out of seeing her team mates succeed. Coming into the season, I relied on Shae to use her two previous years of varsity experience to help the other girls adjust to the varsity level. We had a ton of pressure and expectations on us last year and Shae did a remarkable job taking a leadership role and helping lead the team to its fifth straight conference title. Off the court, Shae is a very bright young lady and carries herself with the same quiet confidence she does on the court. She puts the same effort into her classes as she does on the court."
Tonn wrapped up her year at the positions of pitcher and outfielder for her Peshtigo Bulldog softball team which saw its conference champion streak come to an end at the hands of a dominant Cougar team.
But none the less the Bulldogs were one of the areas best teams, and Tonn was a huge part of that success.
"She always worked hard and was always there, every practice," said Peshtigo Softball Coach Tom Christensen. "I believe that all the players respected her. they always tried to follow her examples. She is a person who when on the field is alway going to give it her best shot. She was just so balanced in all three sports she played, but thats just part of being a true athlete. I really appreciate that. She would always try to do what we as coaches were asking of her. I believe it because we always were on the same level. The whole team could see that and younger players would see what she was doing and figure out, well this must be how its done."
Christensen went on to discuss the success she had this year on the diamond. "She has been a three year starter. This year her role on the mound was extremely valuable. She played infield outfield and led off our hitting order with plenty of opening hits."
Taking the final spot of the top five this year was Coleman's Ashlee Mayer. The fast and tall cougar showed great intelligence and poise this year in all three sports she participated in. Whether she was driving home a kill on the volleyball court or driving the lane in basketball, Mayer was always at the head of her team. But don't forget softball, a sport where Mayer showed some amazing improvements.
Mayer's Volleyball coach Kim Henry commented, "Ashlee had natural ability because of her height. But she always had a deep love of the game. Each year she improved. Her senior year she shined most of all, and the skills she acquired helped make her great."
She served 55 aces, had around 280 digs, 253 kills, 59 blocks.
"She could really pound them down," said Henry. "She had her ups and downs but always kept improving. I think her size and long arms really intimated players. She has the body of an attacker. She was super coachable and had an upbeat attitude and always wore a smile on and off the court. She was always encouraging to the rest of the team. We don't have anybody that tall and has the power hit like that so we will really miss her."
Though the basketball season never seemed to take off this season for the Cougars that didn't stop Mayer from having some fun on the court.
"Ashlee is one of the greatest young ladies that I know," said Coleman Basketball coach Sammy Schaal. "She is very hard working both on and off the court. She has one of the biggest hearts and greatest personalities; she was the glue that held our team together. She took in under class men with our low numbers and never hesitated to help teach them and treat them like she'd been playing with them forever. She was a great leader to have and look up to. I don't think she has a mean bone in her body. You could walk into the gym having the worst day and she never failed to make you smile or see the bright side of any situation, man she is goofy!"
Schaal couldn't say enough about the attitude of Mayer, who according to all her coaches was a leader by example. No matter the sport Mayer did her job and did it well, but most importantly enjoyed it.
"She did anything and everything you asked of her with a smile on her face saying," continued Schaal. ""You got it coach!'" She is also very committed to school and her grades, I couldn't have asked for a more rounded kid to have on the team. Stepping in as a young coach I went in with the attitude that I wanted to be that coach that if they ever needed anything 10,20,30 years down the road they could still count on me and they could trust me with anything. I wanted to teach them both basketball and life skills, and to be honest I learned more from them than I ever could have imagined. I will forever be grateful to have not only met Ashlee but to have been able to spend 4 months with her as her coach.
This year Mayer averaged 4 rebounds and 9 points ppg.
"She was threat on defense with her long arms and height," said Schaal. "On offense she had great positioning and was well aware of her body."
Mayer finished the year up with coach Jean LaVash and the Cougar softball program where the girls in green pushed their way to the sectional final.
Along with the post season push the Cougars turned the softball diamonds of the area upside down, unseating long time resident at the top Peshtigo for this years conference crown.
"She was a great player very coachable, and was a joy to have around," said LaVash. She is just an outstanding person. When she puts her mind to something, nothing will stop her."
But this wasn't the first time LaVash had coached Mayer, they go way back to Mayer's middle school days.
"When she was jr. high I coached her. I knew right away that volleyball was going to be one of her key components. She is just a great athlete and person and is super fun to be around. Always upbeat."
LaVash went on to explain the impact Mayer had on the rest of the softball squad.
She's not always a vocal leader but one that led by example, what you'd call a quite leader. She led by making plays and motivating the kids around her.
One of those lead by example moments was described by LaVash.
"What was really amazing was last year she struggled with the bat but this year started the season at six in the order again but she moved up to the third spot, which goes to show just how much she improved. She always set the table for Mariana."
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