On Monday, the fifth annual Kevin Gray Awards were held at Children’s Mercy Park in the Ameritas Shield Club. The event is held each year to remember and honor the late Kansas City Sports Commission President Kevin Gray. The awards, in which over 75 guests came together, recognized the best players and coaches in the Kansas City metro area.
The event, which was presented by Global Sports International and sponsored by Sporting Kansas City, was comprised of five awards with three finalists for each. The ceremony, hosted by Dave Stewart of Time Warner Cable SportsChannel, revealed the winner of each category as well as the accomplishments of each finalist. To start the ceremony, Stewart welcomed 2011 Female Youth Player of the Year and daughter of the late Kevin Gray, Caroline Gray, to the stage for a quick interview. During the interview Caroline expressed her gratitude toward the city of Kansas City for giving her such a wonderful start in the game of soccer. Caroline also expressed how happy she is to see the sport of soccer continue to grow at such a rapid pace in the area both in participation and fan involvement.
Immediately after the interview, Stewart shifted focus to this year’s awards and the finalists. The finalists, which are nominated by a panel of Kansas City soccer leaders, were brought to the stage and recognized with a short description of their soccer accomplishments to date. Once all three finalists were brought forward, the winner was announced and brought to stage for a brief interview.
The first award of 2016 was the Male Youth Player of the Year. The three finalists are all currently on the U-18 Sporting Kansas City Academy team. Ryan Kellogg was chosen as the winner for his soccer accomplishments throughout his high school and academy careers. In his acceptance interview, Kellogg recognized his fellow teammates and finalists as great teammates as well as his excitement to start a new chapter at West Virginia University this fall. Below are some of the highlights of the male youth finalists:
Ryan Kellogg - U-18 Sporting KC Academy defender. Played 42 games for the U-18’s with two goals. Committed to playing for West Virginia with fellow finalist Logan Lucas and previous winner Joey Piatczyc. Named 2015 Bob Gansler Sporting KC Academy Player of the Year.
John Leisman - U-18 Sporting KC Academy forward. Played for U-16s and U-18s, making 33 appearances. Captain of the U-18 Academy team. Captain of the U-18 U.S. Youth Futsal National Team. Played in the 2014-2015 Generation Adidas Cup. Helped lead Sporting KC Academy to two Kansas State Cup Championships. First SKC Academy player to commit to play for Yale.
Logan Lucas - U-18 Sporting KC Academy defender, committed to West Virginia where he will join fellow finalist Ryan Kellogg and previous winner Joey Piatczyc. He has appeared in 39 games for the U-18s and recorded five goals. Helped the team to two state championships and helped the team to a pair of regional runner-up finishes.
Next was the 2016 Female Youth Player of the Year Award, which was given to Sinclaire Miramontez. She accepted the award in the presence of her sisters who were also student-athletes at Shawnee Mission West as well as her coach Sarah Gonzalez. During her interview, Miramontez expressed her excitement to be starting a new chapter of her soccer career at Nebraska with her older sister. A few highlights from the female youth player are listed below:
Sinclaire Miramontez - Helped Shawnee Mission West to two top-four finishes at state. First-team All-Sunflower League Defense (three times), First-Team All-State Defense (two times), Sunflower League Defender of the Year in 2015, Wendy’s High School Heisman School Winner in 2015. Has committed to play for Nebraska.
Alyssa Seitzer - Four-year starter as Saint Teresa’s Academy. Led the team to a 58-6-1 record. State champions in 2015 and 2016. Class 3 runner-up in 2013 and 2014. National Honor Society, first honors every semester, Presidential Service Award. Committed to play for Saint Louis University.
Abby Small - Defender from Saint Teresa’s Academy. All-District defender sophomore and junior seasons. Helped team to state title her junior and senior year. Earned All-Metro, All-Region, and All-State honors junior year. Voted St. Thomas Aquinas All-Tournament team junior year. Made honor roll all eight semesters of high school.
The third award of the night went to the 2016 Adult Player of the Year, Mandy Laddish. Mandy was not able to attend, but her mother Debbie Heineman accepted the award in her place. In the acceptance interview, Heineman explained how she realized at a very young age that Mandy was going to excel in the sport and was miles ahead of the other players. Heineman stood next to Laddish’s FC Kansas City teammate and finalist, Shea Groom. A list of the finalists and their accomplishments are listed below:
Mandy Laddish - FC Kansas City midfielder. Helped University of Notre Dame to the national championship in 2010 as a freshman and started all 25 games. Was a member of the U.S. U-20 National Team that won the World Cup in Japan. Has had 15 international appearances and appeared in two matches in her rookie season with FC Kansas City. A Kansas City native.
Shea Groom - Three-time All-SEC performer, scored 41 goals in four years at Texas A&M. Kansas City native. FC Kansas City’s 12th overall pick in 2015 College Draft. Helped FC Kansas City in their 2015 NWSL Championship. Has played with the U-23 U.S. National Team.
Erik Palmer-Brown - Third Homegrown player on SKC roster. Three-time Kansas State Cup Champion. Represented the U.S. at the 2013 Tournament Delle Nazioni as a U-15, was on U.S. U-17s and was invited to the U.S. Soccer Residency Program in 2013 with the U-17s. Has been with Sporting KC since age 13, named to U.S. U-20s in 2015. In 2014 was named to the U-20s for the Dallas Cup and in 2013 was named to U-18s. Made his MLS debut in 2014, played in the Chipotle Homegrown All-Star game in 2014 and 2015. Loaned to FC Porto by Sporting KC in 2016.
After the player awards were given out, the ceremony moved on to recognize the 2016 Youth Coach of the Year. This award recognizes club and/or high school coaches for their contribution to the soccer community and the achievements they have made with their teams. This year’s award went to Jeremy McElduff. McElduff stood next to Sarah Gonzalez on stage, while Jon Parry was also nominated but could not attend. Below is a list of the coaches and their accomplishments:
Jeremy McElduff - Head coach of Saint Teresa’s Academy Varsity and Rockhurst High School Junior Varsity. Was named head coach at Saint Teresa’s after the 2009 season. Named 2015 Missouri Coach of the Year. Coming off a back-to-back state championship wins.
Sarah Gonzalez - Played for Shawnee Mission West then went on to play at the University of Kansas and semiprofessionally. Found her way back to Shawnee Mission West as an assistant and was then named Head Coach in 2005 where she has since won state championships. Sarah coaches with the Kansas ODP and helps with KU and Huw Williams soccer camps.
Jon Parry - Director of Coaching at Sporting KC Academy since 2008. Over 16 years of coaching experience and has worked alongside Peter Vermes. Was previously the head coach of both men’s and women’s teams at the University of Saint Mary in Kansas.
Last but not least, the 2016 Adult Coach of the Year was awarded. For a second year in a row, FC Kansas City and Kansas City Comets coach Vlatko Andonovski was the recipient. Andonovski, coming off a 2014 and 2015 NWSL Championship, stood with fellow finalists Mark Francis and Kevin Wardlaw. A list of their accomplishments as coaches is listed below:
Vlatko Andonovski - Manager of FC Kansas City and Missouri Comets, 2013 NWSL Coach of the Year, won both NWSL and MISL Championships in 2014, and repeated NWSL championship in 2015.
Mark Francis - KU Women’s soccer coach. Regional Coach of the Year 2001 and 2004. Big 12 Coach of the Year 2004. Led KU to first ever Big 12 Championship in 2004. 49 All-Big 12 selections. 5 NCAA tournament appearances. Led team to first-ever Sweet 16. First ever top-10 ranking. 5 All-Americans. 4 Freshman All-Americans. 19 All-Region Players. One Academic All-American. 125 Academic All-Big 12 selections. 10-Time NSCAA Academic Award. Played at SMU and had 10 seasons across the APSL, NPSL and USISL.
Kevin Wardlaw - MidAmerican Nazarene University Men’s soccer coach. Coached team to NAIA National Championship Tournament in 2007 and 2011-15. Made it to the championship final in 2015. Semifinal in 2012. Two NCCAA National Championships in 2004 and 2006. 3 Heart of America Conference Championships in 2005, 2008, and 2013. 3 NCCAA Regional Titles 2003, 2004 and 2006. NSCAA, NCCAA Coach of the Year in 2006. NSCAA Region Coach of the Year in 2012 and 2013. HAAC Coach of the Year in 2005, 2008 and 2013. Record 168-79-22.
Congratulations to all of our 2016 Kevin Gray Awards finalists and winners. Please tune into Time Warner Cable Sports Channel on Tuesday, June 28 at 7 p.m. CT to see the entire show. You can also check out a complete photo album from the event here as well as our Twitter @SportingKC_SCN and Instagram sportingkc_scn pages!