There was no ceremony this year to honor the recipients of the New Haven Athletic Awards due to the COVID-19 pandemic. But Erik Patchkofsky, the citywide athletic director, still wanted to go through with handing out the awards.
So Patchkofsky did so with a personal touch. He took one day last week to drive across town and drop off the nine awards to the student-athletes.
“With the kids not being in school, we felt it was important to allow them some type of recognition,” Patchkofsky said. “We could have sent the awards (by mail) or gave it to a coach, but we felt it was important to go out and personally recognize their accomplishments over the past year.”
Patchkofsky said coaches submit nominations and a community advisory committee helps select the recipients.
Once it was decided state schools would continue remote learning for the remainder of the academic year, Patchkofsky knew there was no chance at having a gathering at the Floyd Little Athletic Center, where the ceremony was held last year.
“After discussing with members of the committee, we felt now more than ever it would be important to acknowledge the athlete’s work,” Patchkofsky said.
So Pachkofsky started in Westville, where he lives, and moved across the city, checking in on the recipients he hadn’t seen since March.
“I like how he came over. He wanted to see how I was doing,” said Wilbur Cross wrestler and football player Yarian Grant, who will play both sports at Plymouth State. He was named co-Male Athlete of the Year.
Patchkofsky noted that Wilbur Cross track coach Travis Gale joined him when they dropped off the other co-Male Athlete of the Year award to Caleb Owen, the Register’s Area MVP for indoor track. Catrina Hawley-Stewart did the same for Hillhouse girls basketball player Keyshan Johnson, the city’s Female Athlete of the Year.
Even though the spring sports season was canceled, additional awards were given out to several athletes to acknowledge some who were expected to have great seasons but didn’t have the chance to compete — called the All-Spring Team.
Pactchkofsky said he had help delivering those awards.
“It was a nice opportunity to not just give out awards, but spend some time with them, check in with them,” Patchkofsky said. “ I really enjoyed the opportunity to see our kids. Other than communicating through social media platforms or by phone, I haven’t seen many of them since the quarantine began.”