The Minneapolis Athena Awards Committee, which honors outstanding senior female athletes from high schools around the Minneapolis/St. Paul area, will celebrate its 40th anniversary at its annual luncheon at Minneapolis Convention Center May 4.
Names of those to be honored were released April 2 and include several from the ABC Newspapers coverage area including Andover’s Karlie Hauer, Anoka’s Katie Johnson, Blaine’s Brittany Palmer, St. Francis’ Kelsey Gale, Spring Lake Park’s Lindsey Trappen and Coon Rapids’ Brianna Havelka.
Coaches at each school nominated students and one is selected to represent each school.
Trappen might not have a lucky pair of track spikes, but she‘s used the same pair since seventh grade. As she put it, “They have brought me to great heights,” including two state track and field meets in the high jump as a freshman and sophomore.
Obviously her goal this spring is to return to state as a senior before heading off to Drake University in Iowa this fall, a highly-regarded track school, which she plans to keep her options open with regard to joining the team.
“I feel honored to have it,” she said. “I pride myself, knowing I worked hard every single season, three sports every single year so I’m very excited to get it,”
Her personal best of 5 feet 3 inches came as a freshman and really hopes to reach 5 feet 6 inches at some point this season.
She grew seven inches in her personal best between eighth- and ninth-grades thanks in part to developing her own version of the Fosbury Flop.
The return of longtime Panthers track coach Don Finneran this season kind of took her and the rest of the team by surprise.
“He brings a atmosphere much more like a family,” she said. “He’s comforting.”
Finneran said Trappen has set a good example for the younger teammates “and she’s been able to be like a second coach with her understanding of her event.”
“Technically she’s very solid, despite being short by high jumper standards and has been able to maximize her ability.”
Trappen is a four-time letter winner, four-time All-North Suburban Conference selection, two-time section champion and two All-State honors in track, while she has played a key role on the volleyball and dance teams.
She has four varsity dance letters, four All-Conference honors, four section titles and five All-State honors in addition to being captain of the volleyball and Pantherettes Dance Team.
Trappen plans to major in business with a minor in psychology at the Iowa school.
The Pantherettes won high kick and jazz at sections and the jazz title from the North Suburban Conference. She was on varsity kick team as a freshman and non-varsity jazz.
“It was good to have a new coach, new style of coaching after eight years of the same thing,” Trappen said about new dance team coach Jennifer Blaido. “She always made sure to include the seniors because it’s hard to have a new coach the last year.”
The way she coached made it easier on her. “It was more fun. It was more dancing than a sport this year,” she said.
They performed “One Night” for high kick which included Asian-inspired themes, including “Kung-Fu Fighting” and other sound tracks and “Angels on the Moon” for jazz.
The only off season for Trappen comes in the three-week period between dance and track, so she took advantage of it “and just relaxed.”
Palmer earned eight varsity letters between the hockey and soccer teams and captained the Bengals girls’ hockey team this season. She also earned five Northwest Suburban Conference Championships.
Palmer plans to play hockey and soccer at Augsburg College next season while majoring in psychology. She’s earned the Silver Academy Award in soccer and hockey and earned Student of the Month as a sophomore and junior.
Her earliest sports memory came from playing on the boys’ soccer team for eight years, Palmer said. “I loved stepping on the field and showing all the boys [and parents] that girls can do anything guys can do, if not better,” she said. “I loved seeing the dads faces when their kid got beat by a girl.”
In addition to volunteering at Jefferson Elementary School each year, she also helped out at youth soccer camps and skated with the Bengals program.
Johnson, who will skate for the Minnesota State University, Mankato hockey program next season has been a standout on the ice over the last six seasons at Anoka, collecting 153 career points while earning six letters.
She added a track letter and two more letters in lacrosse. Johnson also has six All-Conference honors including four times for hockey and twice for her effort in lacrosse.
Johnson knew hockey was the sport for her early on. Her father went to register her sisters for hockey and when he came back Johnson was crying because she wanted to give it a shot as well. “I thought he would have said next season but he got me signed up for my first year,” Johnson said about her earliest sports memory.
As for superstition, Johnson said she has to put the left piece on first in addition to retaping both sticks before every game and if they aren’t perfect, she retapes them.
Away from the rink she is part of the leadership program at Anoka and helped raise money for St. Jude Children’s Hospital through the Dylan Witschen Foundation.
Witschen was a classmate who died after a long battle with cancer.
She also helped organize a teddy bear toss which raised bears for children in hospitals and the local police department and is a member of STAR.
Hauer was one of the top volleyball players in the state over the last two seasons and earned three letters, two team MVP awards, was named to the Class AAA State All-Tournament team twice and one All-State team honoree.
Hauer, who will join the University of Minnesota volleyball program in the fall, also captained the Huskies this season to the Class AAA State third-place trophy and reached the 1,000-career kills mark.
Hauer credits her mother with sparking her interest in the sport after signing her up in eighth grade, despite her resistance.
Away from the court she was part of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes (FCA) and YDT coaching youth volleyball.
Gale is an eight-time varsity letter winner and three-time captain between the St. Francis girls’ basketball and softball teams.
Gale, who plans to continue to play softball at Northern State University, majoring in physical therapy after being a member of the National Honor Society, earned an academic letter and has been a consistent member of the honor roll.
She earned two North Suburban All-Conference and All-Section team spots in softball with one more softball season left to go.
Gale listed hitting a home run in her first at-bat as a freshman on the varsity team as her top sports achievement. Her other two moments come from the hardwood as she shot .480 from the field in basketball and was part of the last Saints basketball team to make it to state in 2010.
Away from the softball field and basketball court, Gale has volunteered with LINK, Youth Teaching Youth, Feed My Starving Children, Kids Against Hunger, bagged groceries, volunteered at youth basketball and softball camps and volunteered for a non-profit working with individuals with disabilities.
Havelka has been a standout on the tennis court as she and doubles teammate Libby Storrick made it to the state tournament last fall after finishing third in sections in 2009 and 2010.
She has earned six letters and four All-Conference awards on the tennis court.
Cardinals girls’ tennis coach Mike Riha said, “Brianna has been a strong leader, a great player and a good friend with Libby. They set a goal of going to state and made that goal.
“Seeing their captains set goals, the work needed to achieve those goals and the dedication and focus it takes, lets younger players know that they can do the same if they want to.”
Havelka earned three letters with the basketball team, one team MVP honor and one All-Conference award. She earned four letters for the lacrosse team and two All-Conference honors while captaining the Cardinals once.
Havelka earned 13 letters across the three sports and still has one season left of lacrosse.
Her top athletic memory came from winning a state championship as part of the freshman team.