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Athlete of the Year Award


Athlete of the Year nominations can be made by any person attending or participating in the Sunflower State Games. The nominee must be an athlete participating in the current edition of the Games. The winners, one male and one female will be announced in August. Potential recipients for this award must show outstanding achievement and good sportsmanship both on and off the field of play by embodying what the Sunflower State Games represent, living a healthy lifestyle through participation in sports.

Click here to submit an Athlete of the Year nomination form online

Click here to print an Athlete of the Year nomination form to submit by mail


2016 Female Athlete of the Year: Kailey Ward, Berryton, Age 16


Kailey Ward for web Kailey Ward for web 2

Sunflower State Games Sports and Accomplishments:

  • 2016: Rowing: 1st Place - Women's Jr. Novice Single
  • 2016: Rowing: 1st Place - Mixed Double
  • 2016: Rowing: 2nd Place - Women's Jr. Single
  • 2016: Rowing: 2nd Place - Parent/Child Double

Why do you participate in the Sunflower State Games:

The Sunflower State Games provide a platform for athletes to come together and compete. It gives my family and friends the opportunity to further support my endeavors and cheer me on while competing. I participate in the Games because I enjoy the competition and getting the chance to become a better athlete.

What pleases you most about competing in SSG?

My favorite part about competing in the Games is getting to test my skills against other great athletes. It's rewarding to know that all the early morning rowing practices and hardwork have paid off by medaling in all my events.

Why is SSG important to Kansas Athletes?

The Sunflower State Games are important because it gives Kansas athletes an opportunity to compete against other athletes and a chance to test their skills in a competitive atmosphere. The games are also a reminder of all the hardwork and time these sports require.

Accomplishments outside of SSG?

  • Cheer: Member of the varsity Cheer squad at Shawnee Heights High School. 2015 NCA Midwest Open Champions. 2015 UCA Camp Champions. Placed 4th place at 2015 NCA Nationals and 7th place in 2016.
  • Club Soccer: Placed 3rd at the 2012 USA Cup in Minnesota. 2013 Governor's Cup Champions. Medalist in several regional tournaments.
  • High School Soccer: Member of varsity soccer team at Shawnee Heights High School. 2016 Girls Soccer 5A Regional Champions.
  • Softball: Played for 10 years in several tournaments and placed in all of them. Attended the 2013 World Series.

Tell Us About Yourself

  • Education: Currently a Junior at Shawnee Heights High School.
  • Career: Right now, I'm working at Lawrence Gymnastics Academy as a birthday party coordinator. After High School I plan to go to college and pursue a career either in architectural engineering or elementary education.
  • Hobbies: I enjoy playing soccer, rowing, and tumbling along with cheerleading. I also like reading, camping with my family and working out.
  • Community Involvement: I volunteer with the Sunflower State Games by helping set up the race course for Rowing.
  • Family: I have the most fantastic and supportive parents along with rambunctious twin sisters who are 14.

2016 Male Athlete of the Year: TJ Wade, Eskridge, Age 17

Target Archery

TJ Pic for web TJ Pic 2 for web

Sunflower State Games Sports and Accomplishments:

  • 2016: Target Archery – 1st Place (New State Record)
  • 2015: Target Archery – 1st Place
  • 2015: 3D Archery – 2nd Place
  • 2014: Target Archery – 4th Place
  • 2014: 3D Archery – 2nd Place

Why do you participate in the Sunflower State Games:

The Sunflower State Games is a rewarding way to test your skills on a state level. I participate because I love competing against my friends, meeting new friends and having a good time. Also, I know that the SSG puts on a good, well organized competition.

What pleases you most about competing in SSG?

The best part about competing in the State Games is the people. The organizers and volunteers are really nice and encourage everyone to do their best. The participants take both winning and losing professionally, and show great sportsmanship.  Most importantly we always have fun!

Why is SSG important to Kansas Athletes?

The State Games gives Kansas Athletes a very competitive tournament to participate in without having to travel long distances.

Accomplishments outside of SSG?

  • Participated in 16 total tournaments, 9 of which have been National tournaments.
  • Ranked 27th out of 70 compeitors at the JOAD Outdoor Nationals in Decatur Alabama.
  • Placed 2nd at the First Dakota Classic in Yankton, South Dakota.
  • 2016 USA Archery JOAD Silver Olympian Award for Outdoor Archery.
  • Recently accepted to Wichita State, for Mechanical Engineering in the fall of 2017.

Tell Us About Yourself:

  • Education: Senior at Mission Valley High School.
  • Career: Prospective Mechanical Engineer working in the archery industry and/or building theater sets.
  • Hobbies: Shooting archery, acting and working backstage in theatre, riding motorcycles, and hanging out with friends.
  • Community Involvement: I volunteer at Wanamaker Woods Church, helping kids learn to shoot archery in a safe and fun way. I participate in many shows, either acting or working backstage at the Helen Hocker Theater and the Topeka Civic Theater. I also volunteer with the Sunflower State Games by helping the organizer of the Target Archery tournament set up the range.
  • Family: Parents - JD and Cindy, sister - Kristie.

Past Female Athletes of the Year

2015 - Connie Carpenter, Leavenworth
2014 - Maria Seematter, Marysville
2013 - Gavyn Yetter, Topeka
2012 - Diane Werner, Topeka
2011 - Bailey Atkinson, Topeka
2010 - Nikki Barrett, Waverly
2009 - Laurie Koehn, Hesston
2008 - Joyce Baker, Topeka
2007 - Alice Lackey, Seneca
2006 - Susan Miller, Topeka
2005 - Gay Bauersfeld, Topeka
2004 - Joanie Starks, Lawrence
2003 - Doris Elliot Watson, Bonner Springs
2002 - Melissa Titel, Iola
2001 - Lindsey Carter, Parsons
2000 - Jana Sandall, Goddard
1999 - Emily Bloss, Emporia
1998 - Pam Miller, Valley Falls
1997 - Doris Elliot Watson, Bonner Springs
1996 - Terra Upham, Chapman
1995 - Keely Malone, Lawrence
1994 - Lavina Haefele, Lawrence

Past Male Athletes of the Year

2015 - Kyle Lewis, Topeka
2014 - Jacob Bull, Berryton
2013 - Erich Singer, Topeka
2012 - Michael Rose, Topeka
2011 - Travis Conley, Mission
2010 - Justin Garrard, Ottawa
2009 - Cory Kowitz, South Hutchinson
2008 - Matt Brungardt, Topeka
2007 - Kory Cool - Manhattan
2006 - Ian Grover, Topeka
2005 - Larry Law, Auburn
2004 - Maure Weigel, Salina
2003 - Bill Bunten, Topeka
2002 - Bob Lida, Wichita
2001 - Dean Sheets, Linwood
2000 - David Johnston, Lawrence
1999 - Nathaneal Wheatley, Cherryvale
1998 - Tim Schumacher, Hays
1997 - Dick Wilson, Lawrence
1996 - Kelly Green, Mayetta
1995 - Jim Ratzlaff, Winfield
1994 - Jack Haefele, Lawrence


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