ABOVE: Click this Varsity Banquet video to watch a photo retrospective of the 2019-20 Elmwood Park High School athletic teams. A big thank you to senior Samantha Brayton for producing the video, and thanks to everyone who contributed photos! 


2019-20 Varsity Athletic Awards


Each year Elmwood Park High School and the EPHS Tiger Booster Club recognize the school's student-athletes at the Varsity Banquet, which is usually held in May. This year, however, due to the COVID-19 pandemic and resulting school closures, the 2020 banquet was canceled.

In lieu of the traditional year-end ceremony, EPHS Athletic Director Mr. Douglas Noyes visited the winners of the school's four top individual athletic honors in late May. Joining him over the course of four separate visits were the athletes' head coaches, who presented the awards to their respective honorees.

Listed below are the winners of those top awards: the Terry Ray Memorial Award, the Jody Littlehale Binder Award, the Dean Carter Award and the Cynthia Schulze Sports Award.

Winners of other awards are also listed below: the U.S. Marine Corps Distinguished Athlete Award, the Jody Binder Scholarship, the Booster Club Scholarship, the Gary Stearns Award and the Arthur Glad Award.

Congratulations to all of our winners as well as their coaches and their parents. And thank you to every student-athlete who contributed to the success of the EPHS athletics program this year with their hard work and dedication!


U.S. Marine Corps Distinguished Athlete Award


This award honors a male and a female athlete who meet the following criteria: 

  1. Member of a varsity team 
  2. High school junior or senior
  3. Leader among his or her peers
  4. Outstanding young citizen

Congratulations to our 2019-20 winners:

  • ALAA ABDELHADI | senior | girls cross country, girls basketball, girls track & field
  • JULIO SANDOVAL | senior | football, wrestling

Alaa Abdelhadi competes in cross country.

ABOVE: Senior Alaa Abdelhadi, one of two winners of this year's U.S. Marine Corps Distinguished Athlete Award, competes at the IHSA Class 2A girls cross country regional meet hosted by EPHS in October 2019. Click image for large view. (D401 photo by Dave Porreca)


Julio Sandoval competes at IHSA wrestling sectionals.

ABOVE: Senior Julio Sandoval, a winner of this year's U.S. Marine Corps Distinguished Athlete Award, competes in the 220-pound class at the IHSA Class 2A wrestling sectionals hosted by Deerfield High in February 2020. Click image for large view. (D401 photo by Dave Porreca)


Jody Binder Scholarship


This award honors Jody Littlehale Binder, who served as the Elmwood Park High School athletic director from 1994 to 2007. She was passionate about the school and about serving the Tiger student-athletes. Mrs. Binder also coached multiple sports, and throughout her career she encouraged athletes to participate in multiple activities. Upon her and her family's request, a scholarship was created in her name. The requirements are:

  1. The student received two varsity letters while at EPHS.
  2. The student is a multiple-sport athlete, participating in two different sports at EPHS.
  3. The student has a 3.0 cumulative GPA or higher.
  4. The student has been accepted to attend a college or university.
  5. The student has completed eight semesters of high school.
  6. The student submitted an essay with the theme, "How has your participating in EPHS athletics shaped your sense of community and your place in it?"

Congratulations to our 2019-20 winner: 

  • GABI SZADO | senior | girls cross country, girls track & field

Gabi Szado competes in cross country.

ABOVE: Senior Gabi Szado (No. 11), winner of this year's Jody Binder Scholarship, competes at the IHSA Class 2A girls country country regional meet hosted by EPHS in October 2019. Behind is teammate Geti Zani. Click image for larger view. (D401 photo by Dave Porreca)


Booster Club Scholarship


These scholarships are presented to athletes who have been involved in two sports each year for four years and have been accepted to attend a two-year or four-year college or university. They are voted upon by the head coaches. Parents of the athletes must be members of the Elmwood Park High School Booster Club.

Congratulations to our 2019-20 winners:

  • LUIS GOMEZ | senior | boys cross country, boys track & field
  • MICHAEL STRANSKI | senior | football, boys basketball, baseball
  • JIMMY STRONG | senior | football, wrestling, boys track & field
  • VANESSA VERNA | senior | girls basketball, girls soccer

Luis Gomez competes in cross country.

ABOVE: Senior Luis Gomez (No. 30), a winner of this year's Booster Club Scholarship, sets his sights on the finish line at the IHSA Class 2A boys cross country regional meet hosted by EPHS in October 2019. Click image for larger view. (D401 photo by Dave Porreca)


Mike Stranski quarterbacks the Elmwood Park offense.

ABOVE: Senior quarterback Michael Stranski, one of four winners of this year's Booster Club Scholarship, gets ready to strike deep during the Tigers' 2019 Homecoming Game against Westmont. Click image for larger view. (D401 photo by Dave Porreca)


Jimmy Strong competes at the IHSA wrestling sectionals.

ABOVE: Senior Jimmy Strong, a winner of this year's Booster Club Scholarship, competes in the 182-pound weight class at the IHSA Class 2A wrestling sectionals hosted by Deerfield High School in February 2020. Click image for larger view. (D401 photo by Dave Porreca)


Vanessa Verna competes in the IHSA girls basketball regionals.

ABOVE: Senior Vanessa Verna, one of four winners of this year's Booster Club Scholarship, fights for possession during the IHSA Class 3A girls basketball regional final against Westinghouse College Prep in February 2020. Click image for large view. (D401 photo by Dave Porreca) 


Gary Stearns Award


This award honors former EPHS Athletic Director Gary Stearns. The award recognizes athletes who demonstrate leadership qualities and good sportsmanship while having participated in eight seasons of athletics.

Congratulations to our 2019-20 winners:

  • ZACHARY OWENS | senior | wrestling, boys track & field
  • GABI SZADO | senior | girls cross country, girls track & field

Zachary Owens competes in IHSA sectional wrestling match.

ABOVE: Senior Zachary Owens, a winner of this year's Gary Stearns Award, gains control during his opening match in the 160-pound class at the IHSA Class 2A wrestling sectionals hosted by Deerfield High in February 2020. Click image for larger view. (D401 photo by Dave Porreca)


Gabi Szado competes in the 2018 IHSA girls cross country regional meet at EPHS

ABOVE: Gabi Szado, then a junior, advances toward an eighth-place individual finish at the 2018 IHSA Class 2A girls cross country regional meet hosted by EPHS. Gabi is one of two winners of this year's Gary Stearns Award. Click image for larger view. (D401 photo by Dave Porreca)


Arthur Glad Award


This award honors Elmwood Park High School's second athletic director, Art Glad. The senior athlete must have received an athletic award in two sports in each year for four years. The athlete must also have a minimum 3.5 grade point average and hold the highest GPA through seven semesters among all varsity letter winners.

Congratulations to our 2019-20 winner:

  • WIKTORIA STANKIEWICZ | girls volleyball, girls track & field

Wiktoria Stankiewicz competes in a girls volleyball match at EPHS.

ABOVE: Senior Wiktoria Stankiewicz (No. 9), winner of this year's Arthur Glad Award, keeps the ball in play during a home volleyball match in the fall of 2019. Click image for larger view. (Photo courtesy of the EPHS Athletic Office)


Terry Ray Memorial Award


Gio VegaThis award honors former Elmwood Park High School student-athlete Terry Ray, who passed away in 1960. The award is given to the EPHS male student who tallied the second-highest point total based on participation, athletic achievement and scholastic standing.

Congratulations to our 2019-20 winner:

  • GIO VEGA | senior | football, wrestling, track & field

Here is Mr. Neil Posmer, head coach of EPHS varsity wrestling, discussing Gio's accomplishments:
 


Photo Album: GIO VEGA, Terry Ray Memorial Award Winner


Gio Vega wrestles at sectionals

ABOVE: Senior Gio Vega takes down an opponent in the 195-pound weight class at the Class 2A wrestling sectionals hosted by Deerfield High School in February 2020. Click image for larger view. (D401 photo by Dave Porreca)   


Gio Vega blocks during an EPHS football game.

ABOVE: Offensive lineman Gio Vega (No. 55) clears the way for the EPHS ground game during the Tigers' season-opening victory over visiting St. Joseph in August 2019. Click image for larger view. (D401 photo by Dave Porreca)


Gio Vega wrestles.

ABOVE: Gio Vega gets ready to begin his sectional match against Wauconda's Matthew Merevick in February 2020. Click image for larger view. (D401 photo by Dave Porreca)


Gio Vega with Coach Posmer

ABOVE: Gio Vega receives the Terry Ray Memorial Award from wrestling head coach Neil Posmer. Click image for larger view. (D401 photo by Doug Noyes)


Gio Vega with his family.

ABOVE: Gio Vega with his family. Click image for larger view. (D401 photo by Doug Noyes)


Jody Littlehale Binder Award


Geti ZaniThis award honors former EPHS Athletic Director Jody Littlehale Binder. The award is given to the EPHS female athlete who tallied the second-highest point total based on participation, athletic achievement and scholastic standing.

Congratulations to our 2019-20 winner:

  • GETI ZANI | senior | cross country, basketball, track & field

Here is Ms. Kendal Ahlmann, head coach of EPHS varsity girls cross country and girls track & field, discussing Geti's accomplishments:
 


Photo Album: GETI ZANI, Jody Littlehale Binder Award Winner


Geti Zani at the 2019 girls cross country regionals.

ABOVE: Senior Geti Zani races to the finish line at the 2019 IHSA Class 2A girls cross country regional meet hosted by EPHS, where she led the Tigers by placing sixth individually. Click image for larger view. (D401 photo by Dave Porreca)


Get Zani drives to the basket.

ABOVE: Geti Zani drives past a Westinghouse player during the Class 3A girls basketball regional final in February 2020. Click image for larger view. (D401 photo by Dave Porreca)


Geti Zani at the 2019 girls cross country regionals.

ABOVE: Shown here as a junior, Geti Zani competes in the 2018 Class 2A girls cross country regional meet hosted by EPHS. Click image for larger view. (D401 photo by Dave Porreca)


Geti Zani with her coach, Kendal Ahlmann.

ABOVE: Geti Zani receives the Jody Littlehale Binder Award from girls cross country head coach Kendal Ahlmann. Click image for larger view. (D401 photo by Doug Noyes)


Geti Zani with her parents.

ABOVE: Geti Zani with her parents. Click image for larger view. (D401 photo by Doug Noyes)


Dean Carter Award


Mike StranskiThis award honors the first athletic director of EPHS, Dean Carter. The award recognizes the male athlete who tallied the highest point total based on participation, athletic achievement and scholastic standing. This is the top award presented to an EPHS male athlete.

Congratulations to our 2019-20 winner:

  • MICHAEL STRANSKI | senior | football, basketball, baseball

Here is Mr. Dylan Mack, head coach of EPHS varsity football, discussing Michael's accomplishments:
 


Photo Album: MICHAEL STRANSKI, Dean Carter Award Winner


Quarterback Mike Stranski surveys the field against Westmont.

ABOVE: Senior Michael Stranski surveys the field during the Tiger's 13-0 homecoming victory over Westmont in September 2019. Click image for larger view. (D401 photo by Dave Porreca)


Mike Stranski launches a pass.

ABOVE: Another impressive throw by All-State football honoree Mike Stranski heads toward its target. Click image for larger view. (D401 photo by Dave Porreca)


Mike Stranski celebrates with his teammates after a win.

ABOVE:  After winning their 2019 season opener against St. Joseph, Mike Stranski and his teammates are a happy bunch. Click image for larger view. (D401 photo by Dave Porreca)


Mike Stranski with coach Dylan Mack.

ABOVE: Michael Stranski receives the Dean Carter Award from football head coach Dylan Mack. Click image for larger view. (D401 photo by Doug Noyes)


Mike Stranski with his family.

ABOVE: Michael Stranski with his family after receiving the Dean Carter Award, the highest honor for an EPHS male athlete. Click image for larger view. (D401 photo by Doug Noyes)


Cynthia Schulze Sports Award


Samantha BraytonThis award honors former EPHS student-athlete Cynthia Schulze. The award recognizes the female athlete who tallied the highest point total based on participation, athletic achievement and scholastic standing. This is the top award given to an EPHS female athlete.

Congratulations to our 2019-20 winner:

  • SAMANTHA BRAYTON | senior | volleyball, basketball, track & field

Here is Ms. Marinelle Arenga, head coach of EPHS varsity girls basketball, discussing Samantha's accomplishments:
 


Photo Album: SAMANTHA BRAYTON, Cynthia Schulze Award Winner


Samantha Brayton drives to the basket against Westinghouse.

ABOVE: Senior Samantha Brayton maneuvers past a defender during the Tigers' IHSA Class 3A girls basketball regional final against Westinghouse College Prep in February 2020. Click image for larger view. (D401 photo by Dave Porreca)


Samantha Brayton goes in for a layup against Westinghouse.

ABOVE: During the Class 3A regional final against Westinghouse College Prep, Samantha Brayton goes in for a layup. Click image for a larger view. (D401 photo by Dave Porreca) 


Samantha Brayton continues her drive to the basket against Westinghouse.

ABOVE: After upsetting Clemente High School in the Class 3A regional semifinals 48-44, the Tigers faced a formidable Westinghouse team in the championship game on Feb. 21. Although they lost, the Tigers had plenty to be proud of as they looked back on their season, including the senior leadership of Samantha Brayton. Here she continues her drive to the basket against Westinghouse. Click image for a larger view. (D401 photo by Dave Porreca)


Samantha Brayton with coach Marinelle Arenga.

ABOVE: Samantha Brayton receives the Cynthia Schulze Sports Award from girls basketball head coach Marinelle Arenga. Click image for larger view. (D401 photo by Doug Noyes)


Samantha Brayton with her parents.

ABOVE: Samantha Brayton with her parents after receiving the Cynthia Schulze Award, the top honor for an EPHS female athlete. Click image for larger view. (D401 photo by Doug Noyes)