The Rye Lions Club held its 25th annual Athlete of the Year Luncheon June 15 at Whitby Castle, bringing together the nine Rye High Athletes of the Month chosen jointly by the Lions and Rye High’s Athletic Department.
After welcoming the crowd, Rye Lions Club President Brian Jackson noted that the occasion recognizes not only the accomplishments of the student athletes, but also their coaches and parents, and Rye High School. There was a common thread in the remarks from RHS administrators that followed: High school sports grow leaders.
The coaches of the Athletes of the Month regaled guests with stories, humorous, glowing, and remarkable.
The challenge is to select just one athlete for the yearend award, when they are all exceptional. That assignment falls to the student body. It was up to Tommy Maloney, Rye High Football alum and longtime Lion, to announce the Athlete of the Year: Ashley Kessner, all-Section centerfielder.
Standing with his winner, Coach Alex Tejera said, “Ash is the kind of player you wish you had 30 of every year. She is a great leader, a fierce competitor, kind, respectful, considerate, and an absolute pleasure to coach. The other outfielders were new to the team this year, and Ashley took them under her wing, positioning them before I had a chance to do it myself.”
At the plate, Ashley led the team in home runs and runs batted in while having the second highest batting average. In the field, she threw out 10 runners, including four at home. In the playoff game the Garnets won this year, Ashley hit a first-inning grand slam to provide the margin of victory, and she threw out a runner at home to preserve the victory.
Rye Mayor Josh Cohn, County Legislator Catherine Parker, and Assemblyman Steve Otis all presented Ashley with proclamations of Ashley Kessner Day.
Afterwards, as happens every year, the monthly winners stood together for a group photo and to receive the plaudits of the crowd. Congratulations once again to Cassidy Pagen for tennis, Tommy Broderick for soccer, Lilly Whaling for field hockey, Mackenzie Chimento for track, Cian Keegan for wrestling, Dempsey Brown for hockey, Cate Doyle for indoor track, Ashley Kessner for softball, and Dan Dalton for rugby.
The Lions Club deserves a proclamation as well. Chartered in 1927, it is Rye’s oldest active service club. In addition to holding eyeglass drives and providing large-print books to the Rye Free Reading Room, the Club works with other service organizations to ensure that humanitarian needs are met.