By Melanie Cane
When the Garnets lost the Girls’ Soccer Section championship on a questionable call by a referee, they did not argue with the ref, and moments later they shook hands with and congratulated the winning team. Their graciousness in defeat and respect for the refs are the qualities that earned this team the Westchester-Putnam Approved Soccer Officials Association Sportsmanship Award. Only one girls’ team and one boys’ team in the Section (Class AA, Class A, Class B, and Class C) receives the Sportsmanship Award. Last year, the Garnets were honored with the Sportsmanship Award from the Section’s Athletic Directors. And for the second consecutive year, Coach Rich Savage received the Coach of the Year award from his peers.
At the awards ceremony, Captains Isabel Castro and twins Hannah and Lilly Friedrich gave credit to Coach Savage “for teaching us the proper etiquette on and off the field, and for leading by example. It’s a huge honor for our team to accept the award and we’re very thankful for it. It means a lot to be recognized for qualities above and beyond playing the game.”
The Best Coach award is intricately intertwined with the Sportsmanship award, although they are not always given together. The girls on this team agree that Coach Savage deserved his award. They cited his exhortation from the beginning of the season: “I cannot make soccer your favorite sport, but I hope this is your favorite season.” They unanimously concurred that it was their favorite season because Coach Savage is “the most enthusiastic, involved, and caring coach we’ve have ever had. His coaching style is always changing to best suit the current team. He keeps our best interest at heart while pushing us to be the best people and players we can be. From the girls who start, to the girls who don't get as much time on the field, Savage ensures that everyone feels a part of the squad. He is an amazing coach and person who cares for all of us.”
Junior All-Section players Molly Broderick and Sarah DeGraw have nothing but praise about their coach. “He outdoes himself every year. He always believes in you, even when you doubt yourself. He motivates us all to succeed.” Other players added, “From the fun practices, to the toilet paper fights, to the birthday parties, to the team dinners, to the community service, Coach Savage does everything possible to facilitate team bonding and community involvement. He is a renaissance man of Rye soccer!”
Rich Savage is also Director of the Rye Youth Soccer Program in which over 1,000 boys and girls participate. Many of those young players attend the Varsity Soccer games. After each game, Savage takes a picture of the kids with the team to preserve the memory for everyone.
Coach Savage believes that, “any award or recognition I receive is just a reflection of an amazing group of girls. I think it’s more an award for the team than the individual. All 24 girls scored a goal this season. Moreover, they brought the entire soccer community together. What’s even more impressive is this is the second year in a row the girls won a Sportsmanship award for their exemplary behavior before, during, and after the games. Receiving two different sportsmanship awards from two different groups is an amazing accomplishment and speaks volumes for the team and the girls.”
The Garnet Girls’ Varsity Soccer Team with Rye Youth League Players after their last game of the season
Captains Lilly Friedrich, Isabel Castro, and Hannah Friedrich with Coach Rich Savage