Brieasha Hobbs (Cretin-Derham Hall) and William Olander (Cretin-Derham Hall) were named the 2a016 Winfield Award winners before a crowd of over 300 at the InterContinental Saint Paul Riverfront Hotel in downtown St. Paul last Sunday evening.
Hobbs, a dominant fixture as a sprinter headed to the University of Minnesota, was selected as the top female student athlete, while Olander, headed to Northern State University next fall, was selected as the top male after excelling in football, basketball and lacrosse.
It was the 40th anniversary of the awards banquet — which started in the gymnasium of the Hallie Q. Brown Martin Luther King Center in June of 1977 — annually honoring St. Paul students who excelled in athletics, academics and community service.
The female finalists besides Hobbs included basketball sensation Andrayah Adams (St. Paul Como Park), Kennedy Gay (St. Paul Central), Aye Be Ne Hsa (St. Paul Humboldt), and Mofekunolami Salu (St. Paul Harding).
The male finalists besides Olander were Jamal Galato (St. Paul Central), Antonio Holloman (St. Paul Highland Park), Abel Taye (St. Paul Washington), and Kenneth Udoibok (Cretin-Derham Hall),
The Winfield Awards were established in honor of Major League baseball Hall of Fame player David M. Winfield, a 1969 St. Paul Central graduate who went on to star at the University of Minnesota before playing professionally from 1973-1995.
The keynote speaker was NFL offensive tackle Ryan Harris. A 2003 graduate of Cretin-Derham Hall who went on to star at Notre Dame (graduating in 2007), Harris was a Winfield Awards winner his senior year.
Harris, who started at offensive tackle for the 2016 Super Bowl Champion Denver Broncos and will play for the Pittsburgh Steelers this fall, had a simple message for the 10 honorees before catching a flight to Washington, D.C. for a White House visit to celebrate his team’s Super Bowl triumph.
“Repeat after me,” Harris instructed the finalists to say as he began his inspiring speech: “I am. I can. I will.”
After the award-winners repeated the statement, Harris smiled. “If you can understand that, you can’t go wrong,” he continued. “You will succeed.”
Mitchell Palmer McDonald welcomes reader responses to firstname.lastname@example.org.