By Grace Ballenger
As the end of the sports season approaches, many teams begin to think about choosing their end of the year awards. Any coach will acknowledge that on a team of 10 to 20 athletes each athlete will have their own skills and contributions to make. So how does a coach choose one player to proclaim as Most Valuable Player, or MVP, over all the others?
This is the dilemma faced by coaches on all Holliston High School (HHS) sports teams at the end of every season. The definition of MVP varies from team to team and because of this, the manner in which athletes are chosen for the award varies as well.
According to Ms. Melissa Dlugolecki, the coach of the field hockey team, recipients of awards are determined by a team vote. The definition of MVP the team uses is “the person that you can’t live without.” This definition leaves a lot up to interpretation, and Ms. Dlugolecki said what the team needs “can change from year to year.”
“We don’t [usually] focus on statistics,” said Ms. Dlugolecki, when speaking of how the award is chosen. “Last year it was the top goal scorer, but the year before that it was our goalie… So it really depends.”
Although there is some variance in which players are chosen from year to year, MVPs often have the same qualities. “It’s always someone who works really hard,” said Ms. Dlugolecki, “and it’s always someone who is really competitive.”
The MVPs that are chosen also tend to be leaders, although Ms. Dlugolecki said “sometimes they might be captain and sometimes they might lead by example and not have a title.”
Ms. Dlugolecki said she always agrees with the team’s choice for MVP because from a coach’s perspective “There are often several people who are deserving of it, and that’s why it’s good to go to the team to get their perspective on it.”
Mr. Chris Murphy, coach of the golf team at HHS, chooses his MVP award in an entirely different manner. He discusses the season with assistant coach Mr. Murray Galster, and makes decisions based on this conversation.
Unlike field hockey, in golf the averages of the team members over the season play an important part of determining the MVP.
However, Mr Murphy also says that “if you have the numbers but are missing the team component, the attitude component or the commitment component I don’t think you can be MVP.”
Leadership also seems to be an inherent part of the golf MVP award for Mr. Murphy because “leadership encompasses [the] other qualities” needed to be MVP.
The MVP for golf this past year was Mitchell Lussier, a current junior who played his first year of golf last year. Mr. Murphy said Lussier was chosen because “he had a low average, the best average on the team. [He was the] most consistent performer, [he] led by example and kept a positive attitude throughout the whole season.”
“The joke was that we could write down his score for all the matches ahead of time,” said Mr. Murphy. “He was just that consistent.”
MVP for the field hockey team this past year was current senior, Caroline Schieb. Ms. Dlugolecki said that Schieb plays an important role on the team because she “lights the fire on our team. It’s contagious and we really benefited from that” during the season.
Scheib was also chosen for MVP because “she always plays hard, she challenges the team to play at a higher level [and] she’s extremely competitive,” said Ms. Dlugolecki.
Scheib said that when she got the award “I guess I was a little surprised. I wasn’t expecting it…but I was thankful.”
In the past Schieb said that she has seen “old captains and MVPs as role models because they did so much for the team.” She acknowledges that others will probably look up to her, a fact that she said “gets me a little nervous, but I think I’m up for the challenge.”
One of the characteristics of being an MVP is being a leader, and while Schieb said “I consider myself a leader,” she also modestly added that “I consider everyone a leader because we all bring something the team needs.”
To get along well with teammates Schieb said that athletes should be “compatible and patient. You need to understand the teammates, how they act and how they play.”
“The rush you get when you get the ball and you’re going down the field,” is one of the things that draws Schieb to field hockey, which she has been playing for five years. She also enjoys “just being part of the team.” Some of her best memories from the last season involve “All of the trouble we got into… We had a lot of fun, on and off the field.”
Ultimately one of the things that Schieb has learned from field hockey is “To not let the score or a bad game interfere with who you are. A lot of times I would get really mad [at stuff like that]… But [I’ve learned] not to let that interfere with your relationship with your teammates or your coach.”
Schieb’s competitiveness, team spirit, hard work, and passion for her sport are ultimately what make her the MVP.
If these sound like some of the characteristics of an ideal athlete then it shouldn’t come as too much of a surprise. After all, according to Mr. Murphy, MVP should ultimately be “the epitome of what you want in an athlete on your team.”