By David Krueger Herald Writer
EVERETT — Legendary coach — and Snohomish product — Keith Gilbertson, Jr. was selected as the guest speaker for the 31st annual Snohomish County Football Officials Association (SCFOA) Scholar Athlete Awards Banquet Wednesday night at the Comcast Event Center.
He may have brought some luck to a couple current Panthers in attendance.
Kyle Gionet and Tanner Perry each won scholarships from the SCFOA, along with Mountlake Terrace’s Alex Hansen, Granite Falls’ Thomas Eadie III and Blake Sander of Lake Stevens, who all took home a scholarship courtesy of the officials that regulate their high school games.
“All of these young people are incredible,” Gilbertson said after the ceremony. “It’s just amazing to me the quality of their resumes. All of the things they done. Not just athletically, but academically as well. And giving back to the community. I was really overwhelmed by all these student athletes.”
Each year, the SCFOA has an awards banquet, where it honors a lineman and a back from each local school. The members then award one $1,200 scholarship and one $600 award to each category. Jeff Schireman, who is a member of the SCFOA, and his wife Betty also sponsor an additional award in honor of the armed services.
Gionet won the $1,200 back scholarship while Perry, his teammate, won the $600 lineman award.
“It feels good to win,” Gionet said. “All of these kids here are worthy of it.”
The senior, who hopes to go to the University of Washington and study something in the medical field or engineering, has a 4.0 grade point average and was No. 1 in his class his freshman, sophomore and senior years. He was a three-year varsity football player and team captain this past season. He also plays baseball for Snohomish and is a volunteer coach for the Cal Ripken Sr. Baseball Camp.
Gionet also is a volunteer basketball referee, which left a good impression with the football officials giving out the award.
The Snohomish quarterback said that he was proud to continue a long line of Panthers to win the award.
“We hoped it would happen,” Gionet said. “We worked on our application together. I think Snohomish has a history of bringing home hardware here.”
The $1,200 lineman award went to the Hawks’ Hansen. He has a 3.96 GPA and has taken six advanced placement classes. Hansen, who also plays baseball and golf for Mountlake Terrace, is a member of National Honor Society, as well as an Eagle Scout.
“I was so surprised,” Hansen said. “Overall it was just good to receive some recognition after four years of working hard. It’s not easy getting good grades.”
Looking to attend Brigham Young University and major in finance, Hansen’s advice for younger Hawks was to be active in their schools and communities.
“Get involved in a lot of stuff,” Hansen said. “Don’t sell yourself short. Push yourself.”
Perry, who has a 3.99 GPA and is ranked eighth in his class, won the other lineman award. He was a three-year varsity football player and, like Gionet, was a captain this season. He’s also on the Snohomish wrestling and golf teams.
Eadie, of Granite Falls, received the Schireman’s Armed Service Award. Eadie, who has a 3.95 GPA and is ranked fourth in his class, wants to go to the United States Air Force or Military Academies and become an engineer.
He’s currently the Associated Student Bodies President as well as a member of the Granite Falls’ wrestling team.
“It’s humbling,” Eadie said of winning the award. “I was shaking the entire time. They were reading (my bio) and I recognized it. It was kind of a shocker. I was still shaking when I went back to my seat.”
The night’s other award winner was Sander, who took home the $600 back award. Sander boasts a perfect 4.0 GPA and is a three-sport athlete at Lake Stevens, playing football, golf and wrestling. He volunteers at his church, as well as soccer camps.
While addressing the crowd, Gilbertson praised the student athletes for all their hard work, and told them they had bright futures with the best yet to come.
“The best thing in your life is about to happen to you,” Gilbertson said, “and I don’t mean Christmas.”
Indeed, the future looks bright for each of the exemplary individuals honored Wednesday night.