Special to Colorado Track XC Tom Southall
Pomona's Brandon Micale certainly was amazed and overwhelmed when notified that he had won the 2017 CHSCA Freddie Steinmark Award.
"Really? Oh man, this is amazing. Wow, I don't know what to say! I didn't think I would win it and it is such an honor. Many other athletes are deserving of this award. I am thankful for what my coaches, teachers, teammates, and family have done for me. This is the highest high school award you can receive."
Brandon Micale is the 48th winner of the Steinmark Award since it was established in 1972 (there were two winners in 1976 and 1979) and he is certainly deserving. He becomes the first Steinmark Award recipient in the history of Pomona High School.
The Steinmark Award honors Freddie Steinmark, who excelled in football, basketball, and baseball while attending Wheat Ridge High School in the 1960s. He was also an outstanding student and was active in several school and community-oriented endeavors before attending the University of Texas, where he helped the Longhorns to the national football title in 1969. He died from cancer in 1971 at the age of 22.
"Even to be nominated for this award is a tremendous honor and I am truly humbled to be among the applicants," wrote Brandon in his nomination letter. "I would like to recognize my coaches and teachers for giving me the absolute best guidance I could ask for on the field and in the classroom. I would like to thank my teammates and lifelong friends for congratulating me after my most defining achievements and picking me up after my most humbling losses." Brandon is also thankful for the influence of his parents, Jeff and Cheryl, as they helped point him in the right direction and have served as models of selflessness for him to strive to achieve in his future relationships.
"I will never be Freddie Steinmark. I will never be the athlete, leader, or man that Freddie Steinmark was. But I can do my absolute best to try to emulate his passion and spirit. I can compete against top tier athletes with a complete disregard for my undersized frame, and make up for it with my heart and passion. I can try my best to be a leader on the field and in the classroom, and I can do my best to rally others and help them perform at their absolute best....Nothing I do will come close to the humbling example Freddie Steinmark left for others, but that doesn't mean I can't do my part to make the world a better place."
Brandon surely has had a positive impact in the classroom at Pomona High School where he graduated in the top 5 of a class of over 300 students. His weighted GPA of 4.46 carried over into a score of 33 on the ACT. Brandon was an AP Scholar with Honor and an invitee to the National Council of Science and Mathematics Conference. The National Football Foundation recently recognized Brandon as one of the top scholar athletes in Colorado. Brandon is excited for the opportunity to continue his academic, and athletic, career at the University of San Diego.
His hard work carried over to the athletic arena as Brandon was a two-time selection on the Denver Post All-Colorado Football Team at linebacker. Listed at 5' 11" and 215 pounds, Brandon played with energy and tenacity that helped him become a playmaker on his modestly-sized frame. This energy showed up on the stat sheets with 121 tackles, of which 75 were solo tackles, 29 tackles for loss, and 18 quarterback sacks. An outstanding football career was capped by a runner-up finish in 5A football and a selection to play in the Blue-Gray All-American Bowl.
Brandon's penchant for excelling in an undersized role carried over to wrestling, where he placed 3rd in the 285-pound class despite being outweighed by almost every opponent. A career wrestling record of 72-27 resulted in state placing of 5th his sophomore year and being a regional champion his junior year.
To round out Brandon's outstanding athletic career, he was a standout in the fine group of throwers on the Pomona High School track and field team. Again, he was not the biggest thrower in the ring, but his athletic ability and determination made him a two-time state qualifier in the shot put and discus. Brandon followed up a 4th place finish in the discus as a junior with a championship performance as a senior. His throw of 160' 1" was a new personal best and a wonderful way to cap off a tremendous high school athletic career. His Twitter account later that day carried the message "Only took me 7 tries...finally a state champ...5A discus."
Citizenship is also an important part of the Steinmark Award winner's contributions to their school and communities. Brandon's participation in this area is notable. In addition to volunteering at youth sports camps and being a youth wrestling instructor, Brandon spent time during his summers as an outdoor academic lab leader and a counselor in the Fit to be Kids Summer Program. These activities are important to Brandon as he continues to "...chase my dreams while simultaneously helping others to reach theirs...." Brandon's track coach, Jeff Donnel, shared that "Brandon believes that a strong body and strong mind are one in the same. He felt that it was important for kids to live a healthy lifestyle and he wanted to show them that you can be smart and athletic at the same time." Brandon was grateful for the opportunity to work with kids that have experienced obstacles in their lives and was extremely appreciative of the opportunity to work with children living with autism spectrum disorder.
The CHSCA Freddie Steinmark Award trophies will be presented to the Steinmark winners, June 9, 2017 as part of the CHSCA All-State Games hosted by Adams State University in Alamosa. Brandon will be joined by Douglas County's Jordan Acosta, who will receive the girls Steinmark Award.
As noted, the trophies are for both boys and girls, and they must be seniors who have maintained a GPA of at least 3.0 and participated in at least two varsity sports and earned at least All-Conference in one sport and All-State in another.
Dave Logan of Wheat Ridge High School, and now the extremely well-known sports announcer for the Denver Broncos and other sports endeavors, was the first winner of the award in 1972.
Chris Canty of Sanford won the boys Steinmark last year and Tara Traphagan of Yuma was the winner for the girls.
Following is the list of boys who were nominated for the 2017 Steinmark Award: Darren DeLaCroix, Greeley West; Max Gonzalez, Cherokee Trail; Mikey Greibel, Columbine; Austin Herman, Holyoke; Bradley Rogers Johnson, Kit Carson; Chad Mikelson, Julesburg; Tanner Norman, The Classical Academy; and Cody Venem, Rocky Ford.