PEABODY — In what has become one of the most prestigious high school sports awards banquet north of Boston, Moynihan Lumber hosted its 20th annual North Shore Student-Athlete Awards Luncheon yesterday at Salem Country Club.
The best of the best were honored as Bishop Fenwick soccer, basketball and lacrosse standout Rebecca Graves earned Female Student-Athlete of the Year honors while St. John's Prep hockey star Colin Blackwell garnered the Male Student-Athlete of the Year award.
"Looking at all the names from winners from the past years, I knew I was in just great company," said Blackwell at the event's conclusion. "It's definitely a big honor. Gerard Moynihan (owner of Moynihan Lumber) is one of those guys that doesn't have to do what he does for us, the student-athletes, but he does it anyway. It's just great what he does to give back."
Moynihan presented Graves and Blackwell a $1,000 scholarship at the end of the event.
"This has developed a life its own," Moynihan said to the sizable crowd. "It's all because of the quality of people that have won (awards over the years). It's about what these athletes accomplish since they've won.
"I can't thank Colin and Rebecca enough as each has added something very specific to the award."
The Moynihan Student-Athlete Award honor is based on both academic achievement and athletic exploits. Each month throughout the high school sports year, the sports editors from The Salem News, Newburyport Daily News, The Gloucester Daily Times and Lynn Item choose a male and female high school student-athlete of the month from the North Shore based on nominations received from local athletic directors, coaches, friends and family.
Graves, who is headed to the University of New Hampshire in the fall, had a 4.6 GPA and was ranked in the top 10 percent of her class at Bishop Fenwick. She is a three-year member of the National Honor Society as well. On the lacrosse field Graves was simply dominant, posting a remarkable 342 career goals and 72 assists.
Blackwell, meanwhile, led St. John's hockey to its first-ever Super 8 state championship game at TD Garden this past season. The senior center and captain finished his Prep career with 70 goals and 132 total points, both of which are fourth in the program's history. He was named the state's Player of the Year and finished his senior season with 66 points.
Owning a 4.1 GPA and a combined 2,000 on his SATs, Blackwell is headed to Harvard in the fall and will continue his hockey career for the Crimson.
Presenting for Graves was her soccer and lacrosse coach, Karen Guillemette. St. John's Prep head hockey coach Kristian Hanson introduced Blackwell, choosing in his talk to focus on what Blackwell did for the Eagles' program off the ice as much as the success he had on it.
Speaking to the audience — and to Graves and Blackwell in particular — yesterday was recent Boston College graduate and 2006-07 Moynihan Lumber Female Student Athlete of the Year, Lauren Blodgett of Peabody High.
"You just have to enjoy college, enjoy the entire experience," Blodgett said. "One thing to remember is to always keep yourself in the mindset of an athlete. It teaches you to be competitive and have a strong work ethic in all aspects of life."
Also receiving awards at the luncheon were long-time Cape Ann League and NEC secretary/treasurer Dick Baker, who received a lifetime commitment award for working in the schools. Newburyport's Richie Eaton, who earned the lifetime commitment award working outside of schools, and Gloucester's Dean Salah, who earned the fan award for his support of Gloucester High School athletics, also received plaques.
The Moynihan Lumber Student-Athlete of the Month honors run from September to May each year.
"You can't win if you're not nominated," Moynihan reminded everyone in attendance. " So it's important to keep them coming."