Marquez Nabs 2018 CHSCA Freddie Steinmark Award

By Tom Southall, CHSCA

Pomona's Ryan Marquez was honored to just be nominated for 2018 CHSCA Freddie Steinmark Award and was overwhelmed when notified that he was the recipient of this year's award.

"Really? Oh man, this is amazing. I didn't think I had a shot to win it and it is such an honor. I am thankful for all that my coaches, teachers, teammates, parents, Cindi and Michael, and my family have done for me. They pushed me to take my effort and dedication from the field to the classroom. It is an unbelievable feeling."

Ryan Marquez is the 49th 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 second Steinmark Award recipient in the history of Pomona High School, following last year's recipient, Brandon Micale.

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 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.

"Freddie Steinmark is a source of inspiration, not only to me, but to others as well," wrote Ryan in his nomination letter. "His story embodies adversity, perseverance, and courage. He was an undersized athlete who was often overlooked and ended up leading his team to a title...As a freshman, my team and I saw the movie My All American prior to the season. I was surprised that Freddie played for the same youth team my father played for in the early '70's-the RoughRiders."

Ryan immediately felt a connection with Freddie Steinmark. A belief that even as an undersized athlete, if you believed in yourself and the program you were in, you could work to become the best athlete you could possibly be. Heading into his sophomore season, Ryan faced stiff competition at quarterback from a transfer quarterback who was at least 4 inches and 100 pounds bigger than he was. Not to be deterred, Ryan worked hard in summer drills and scrimmages to become the starting quarterback for the Pomona Panthers football squad. This began a three-year stretch at quarterback that is hard to top in Colorado prep history. Three straight appearances in the 5A football title game were capped by an exciting championship in 2017. Ryan led the Panthers to a 56-49 victory over the Eaglecrest Raptors and had a jaw-dropping stat line where he completed 20 of 22 passes for 345 yards and 5 touchdowns.

The entire 2017 Pomona football season produced video game -type statistics with Ryan at the helm of an offense that amassed a Colorado single-season record of 6,362 yards in total offense. Ryan racked up over 7,500 career total yards to cap off an outstanding prep football career. The Colorado Sports Hall of Fame recognized Ryan's outstanding 2017 season by naming him the Colorado High School Athlete of the Year.

Ryan's hard work made a positive impact in the classroom at Pomona High School where he graduated in the top 10% of a class of over 300 students. The National Football Foundation recently recognized Ryan as the top scholar athlete in Colorado in 2018. Ryan is excited for the opportunity to continue his academic, and athletic, career at the University of Wyoming where he will work with a coaching staff that has produced two top college quarterbacks in the past few years-Josh Allen and Carson Wentz.

A three-sport athlete, Ryan was a four-year letter winner on the basketball court where he displayed his playmaking ability by averaging 5 assists and over 12 points per game in an All-Conference senior season. On the track, Ryan culminated his prep athletic career with a 2nd place finish in the 300M hurdles at the 2018 state high school track meet. Ryan had qualified to compete in the 110M hurdles but chose instead to walk in the Pomona High School graduation ceremony. Ryan demonstrated his all-around athletic ability by competing in the high jump, long jump, pole vault, triple jump, hurdles, sprints, and relays during the 2018 track season.

Pomona football coach, Jay Madden, said that "...all of Ryan's stats are amazing, but the most impressive thing about Ryan is his competitive drive and consistent work ethic throughout the last 4 years. In 4 years, Ryan never missed a football practice, a workout and never lost a sprint. His desire to be the best at everything he does on and off the field sets him apart. He is also one of the most coachable players that I have ever had and is a great leader."

Citizenship is also an important part of the Steinmark Award winner's contributions to their school and community. Ryan's participation in this area is notable. In addition to volunteering at youth sports camps, he is a strong leader in the Elyria Swansea neighborhood, at the APEX Center, and volunteers at the 9Health Fair.

The CHSCA Freddie Steinmark Award trophies will be presented to the Steinmark winners, June 8, 2018 as part of the CHSCA All-State Games hosted by Adams State University in Alamosa. Ryan will be joined by Telluride's Soleil Gaylord, 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.

Brandon Micale of Pomona received the 2017 boys Steinmark last year and Jordan Acosta of Douglas County was the 2017 recipient for the girls.

Finalists for the 2018 Steinmark Award: Dominick Fini, Mesa Ridge; Logan Hughes, Meeker; Noah Kuzma, Valor Christian; Joe Whitney, Wheat Ridge; and Tyler Wylie, Akron.