Making sense of the GMC’s Athlete of the Year award for boys’ soccer; should Jack Clark have won it?

James Nosek | Press Box Perspectives Editor/Columnist

Josh Spaw, senior defenseman for the Lakota West boys’ varsity soccer team won the GMC’s award for boys’ soccer “Athlete of the Year.” The “Athlete of the Year,” goes in brackets because Spaw should not have that title over Mason sophomore Jack Clark if this award is truly what it means. I talked to Josh and found out that he is really nice guy and talking to some of his competition, I found out that he was a great leader. I’m not taking any of this away from Spaw, but to win “Athlete of the Year,” doesn’t make sense to me.

I don’t just say this because I go to Mason; I say this because this award is very contradicting. Talking to different GMC soccer players, they said this award is given to the top senior or leader in the conference. “Usually they give it to a senior,” Mason senior defensemen Matt Loehr said. Well then why is this award called “Athlete of the Year?”

If we are looking at a true MVP or Athlete of the Year award then there is no other person to look at then sophomore Jack Clark.

You have to just look at the stats, Clark was a monster this year and that was as a sophomore. 21 goals, six assists for a total of 48 points and don’t forget that he broke the Mason single season scoring record as well. You want to know who was in second place behind Clark in stats this year, it was Kevin Walker from Colerain, and you want to know what his stats were this year? He finished with 26 points off 11 goals and 4 assists. Tell me if you see a difference in those stats; it’s pretty obvious.

Clark not only finished first in the GMC in points and goals but he dominated the league as an underclassman, that’s special.

Looking at Spaw for instance, he finished the year with three goals and that’s understandable, he plays defense and doesn’t get a lot of shots on goal but the thing is, there are no official stats for a good defenseman in soccer, the only player on defense who acquires stats is the goalie. So really how fair is it for the GMC to call Spaw the “Athlete of the Year” when there are no stats to back up his claim, sure he was a good leader and defensemen but that doesn’t cut it for this award, for an “MVP award.

You don’t see an offensive lineman in the NFL win an MVP award because they’re the best blocker; it just doesn’t happen because there are no stats to back it up. Does that mean they are not good at what they do? Not at all, you could call those players work horses and they do deserve more credit but not an MVP award. That’s what a defensemen in soccer is, a workhorse, but how do we factor it if they are “Athlete of the Year” or not? It’s hard to say.

If we are looking at stats and who is the best player this year then you have to look at Clark, there’s no other way not to. Looking at the GMC this year there were only two candidates that fit this award and that is Spaw and Clark, if Clark didn’t have the year he had then I wouldn’t even be writing this piece at all.

“To lead the GMC in points and goals as a sophomore really shows the future that he has for himself,” Spaw said about Clark’s sophomore campaign. He was very humble about it and he should, Clark had an unbelievable year.

When asked if Spaw deserved the award over Clark, Spaw said, “It’s hard to say, I think the deciding factor was us winning the GMC and beating Mason twice in the regular season. That I think played a big role.”

Now when I listen to this quote I agree, the fact that Lakota West won the GMC this year really helped in the decision but what were they comparing? It wasn’t like you could put Spaw’s stats side by side with Clark’s and decide who should have won the award because these guys have incomparable stats.

Like this year in the MVP race for the MLB, Ryan Braun barely edged out Matt Kemp. Sure Kemp had better stats, actually better stats in all Triple Crown categories, but the factor that gave Braun the crown was the fact that his team, the Brewers, made the playoffs and Kemp’s team, the Dodgers, did not.

This makes sense but look at the two guys, they had very similar stats, they both were credible enough to win the award and that’s why when you go back to Spaw winning boys’ soccer “Athlete of the Year,” what stats was he comparing to Clark’s?

If Spaw and Clark both had around the same stats or played the same position and Lakota West still made it farther than Mason in the playoffs, then I would say Spaw should definitely won the award, no doubt about it, but that’s not the case. We are comparing apples to oranges and that’s the problem with this award.

The GMC needs to change this award or change how the criteria stands, if they want to give this award to the top senior leader, then name it the “Senior Leadership Award,” or if they want to give this award to the best defensemen then call it the “Defensive Player of the Year.” If these awards existed then I’m all for Spaw winning, he definitely would deserve them but they don’t.

When I think of the Athlete of the Year Award I think of the MVP and I know the GMC likes to give this award to seniors but if a sophomore like Clark deserves it, then give it to him. Maybe it’s not the fact that Spaw doesn’t deserve “Athlete of the Year,” but he deserves something else for his hard work and his great year.

So for the members of the GMC, let’s change the awards so they are clearer.

Offensive Player of the Year: Mason sophomore Jack Clark

Defensive Player of the Year: Lakota West senior Josh Spaw

Senior Leadership Award: Lakota West senior Josh Spaw

Now doesn’t that make more sense?