West Michigan Officials Association brings awards to recipients during pandemic

Small gatherings take the place of banquet
Posted at 2:37 PM, May 21, 2020
Honoring high school athletes amid pandemic

The West Michigan Officials Association is still handing out its annual awards to high school athletes despite COVID-19.

It couldn't hold the annual banquet so the WMOA is bringing the awards to the winners.

"Unfortunately circumstances have forced us to change the way we think about things," Lynn Benedict, President of the WMOA said. "We looked outside the box and what we've found is this fits what we are doing maybe better than what we have done in the past."

Kent City senior Eli Carlson was presented the boys basketball athlete of the year in his driveway earlier this week.

"It's pretty weird," Carlson said. "I definitely didn't think it would be like this at my house but I think it's better, a lot more people could be here, more family and it's great."

"It just brings the recognition to the student athlete the way it should be," Benedict added. "It's about them and that is what we want it to do."

Allendale's Owen Burk was presented the football athlete of the year at the Falcons football stadium last week.

Owen Burk receives the football athlete of the year award May 15th, 2020 in Allendale

Burk had an incredible career on the gridiron leading an Allendale offense that averaged 35 points per game for the last three seasons.

He has a grade point average over four and is headed to the Air Force to play football.

Carlson has been a four year varsity player at Kent City and helped the Eagles to 59 wins and that was with his senior season cut short by COVID-19.

"It means a lot for them to obviously notice me but remember me as well," Carlson said. "So it's great and it's definitely an honor."

Carslon has a 3.86 GPA and is a three-year member of the National Honor Society and will continue his basketball career at Grace Christian.

"We vote as a total organization 400 plus members vote on these individuals who are nominated for this award," Benedict said. "It is just a matter of this is the young man that rose to the top of the list."

Covenant Christian's Abby Kaptein was selected as the girls basketball athlete of the year, her presentation has not yet been scheduled.