Sporting 22 selects valedictorian

Sporting Kansas City announced on Tuesday that Sporting 22 participant Lars Hanson has been named valedictorian for the program's inaugural 2011-2012 class. The Olathe East High School senior will receive an additional $2,000 scholarship for the award.

"Sporting 22 has been phenomenal," said Hanson, who was notified of his selection as valedictorian by a personal phone call from Sporting Club CEO Robb Heineman. "The help that each of us has been given is tremendous. To have the support from Sporting has made a huge difference."

Hanson was one of 22 high school students selected to participate in Sporting 22 for the 2011-2012 school year for his impressive involvement in Ignite Your Game, a speed and agility sports performance class he started in 2008 and offers to area athletes each summer.

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"Lars took a strong leadership role and is a mentor to youth in his community," said Staci Schottman, Director of Community Relations for Sporting Kansas City. "His Sporting 22 program, Ignite Your Game, demonstrated significant originality and initiative and equipped young athletes with improved knowledge, self-confidence and skills related to soccer, healthy living and giving back."

Hanson, who will attend Kansas State University in the fall, is an accomplished runner himself and has grown Ignite Your Game with its own website and marketing video (shown below).

"Last summer was the fourth year of the program," Hanson said. "I've seen the kids improve a lot over each summer, but with the scholarship I was able to add new training equipment and with that came added results. It was, by far, the best summer yet."

Hanson's training sessions -- more than 35 in all -- helped participants gain as much as 12 inches in their vertical leap, 18 inches in their broad jump and up to 12 seconds in their 200-meter dash. He will again offer the courses in 2012 and said he already has over 40 athletes, ranging from 4th through 10th grade, enrolled to participate.

"After receiving the Sporting 22 scholarship, the program has become more well-known," Hanson said. "A lot of soccer players want to get involved this year."

About Sporting 22
Sporting 22 brings together 22 high-achieving high school students to explore, develop and execute local initiatives that use the sport of soccer to impact the overall health and well-being of thousands of kids in the Kanas City community and beyond.

Each year, Sporting Kansas City receives applications from students at public and private high schools throughout Kansas and Missouri. The students selected always represent a wide variety of strengths through their scholastic and athletic accomplishments, and collectively embody a unique desire to make a personal contribution in their community through creative and innovative initiatives.

Each of the participants is awarded a $2,000 college scholarship and a Sporting 22 jacket. Sporting Kansas City players make appearances throughout the year at special Sporting 22 workshops, clinics and camps hosted by Sporting 22 members.

The Sporting 22 experience is a culmination of 12 months of planning and is made possible through generous contributions from presenting sponsor Teva Neuroscience and supporting sponsors Pepsi and the Kansas City Soccer Foundation.