A special Sunday night in Surprise

May 20, 2024 by Jose Garcia, AZPreps365

The Vista Center for the Arts in Surprise was filled Sunday with several high achievers . (Jose Garcia/azpreps365)

Plenty of well-deserved victory laps were taken Sunday by students, coaches and administrators for what they accomplished during the 2023-24 high school sports year.

The Vista Center for the Arts in Surprise spotlighted their achievements during the Arizona Interscholastic Association’s annual Champions Gala. All of the finalists and award winners on the stage stood out, including the AIA Students of the Year, Lena Durette of Xavier Prep and Sunnyside’s Sebastian Barrios.

Brennan Earl of the Arizona Cardinals presented Xavier Prep's Lena Durette and Sunnyside's Sebastian Barrios with their reward for earning Arizona Interscholastic Association Student of the Year honors. (Jose Garcia/azpreps365)   

One of the other highlights was the keynote speaker, Highland grad Ryan Fitzpatrick, whose NFL career spanned 17 seasons.

Fitzpatrick may have thrown his best post-career pass Sunday. During his speech, the Harvard alum asked the scholar and activity athlete finalists to stand up.

He then proceeded to say that he would give each of those students $1,000, the same amount that the scholar and activity athletes winners received Sunday.

Work hard and be nice to people. That was one of Fitzpatrick’s key points in his speech, and he backed those words with action.

FitzMagic, as Fitzpatrick was known in the NFL, made an already special night even more magical.

Ryan Fitzpatrick

To view the broadcast of Sunday’s gala, go to azpreps365’s YouTube channel.

2024 AIA Champions Gala winners, finalists

Leadership in Girls/Womens Athletics

Sarah Peterson, Greenway

Tony Komadina Advocacy for Girls Athletics Award

Mesa High

Student Leadership ($1,000 scholarships each)

Addison Han, Boulder Creek

Lourdes Lauterborn, Xavier

Gary L. Whelchel Officials Award

Richard Piñeda

Skip Bryant Media Award

Les Willsey, azpreps365.com and East Valley Tribune

Glen Treadaway Sportsmanship Award

1A: North Valley Christian Academy

2A: Willcox

3A: Northwest Christian

4A: Marcos de Niza

5A: Mountain View Marana

6A: Mountain Ridge

School Spirit Video Award ($500 gift each)

1-3A: Northwest Christian

4-6A: Canyon View

Unified Sports Coach, Administrator, Partner & Athlete of the Year

Nathaniel Burke, Westwood, athlete

Landen Edwards, Youngker, partner

Lisa Lopez, Ironwood, coach

Travis Haley, Buckeye, administrator

Scholar Athlete, Boys

Diego Carmona, Coolidge (1-3A winner)

Josiah Grzelak, Blue Ridge (finalist)

Quenton Metz, Chino Valley (finalist)

Cayden Gibson, Arizona College Prep (4-6A winner)

Samuel Johns, Desert Ridge (finalist)

Sebastian Barrios, Sunnyside (finalist)

Scholar Athlete, Girls

Aubrie Wilson, Show Low (1-3A winner)

Liliana Arreola, Round Valley (finalist)

Thomasina Hurlbut, Tempe Prep (finalist)

Keira Leshinskie, Horizon (4-6A winner)

Mackenzie Lopez, Xavier

Addison Duke, Gila Ridge

Scholar Activity, Girls

Taylor Conley, Tempe Prep (winner)

Addison Han, Boulder Creek (finalist)

Lena Durette, Xavier (finalist)

Scholar Activity, Boys

Blake Penrod, Round Valley (finalist)

Jay Nergard, Tempe Prep (winner)

Tate Leventhal, Chaparral (finalist)

Better Business Bureau Ethical Athlete ($2,500 scholarship each)

Daleina Egea, Mountain Ridge

Jack Strang, Horizon

Administrator of the Year

Jeff Feldman, Greenway (winner)

Stephen Young, Monument Valley (finalist)

Eric Gardner, Liberty (finalist)

Coach of the Year

Bobbi Yoder, Prescott (finalist)

Amanda Burbridge, Sandra Day O’Connor (winner)

AIA Pillar Award

Matt King, Position Sports

Directors Cup

Liberty High

Arizona Interscholastic Association Executive Director David Hines (far right) awarded the Directors Cup to Liberty High and its staff members who attended Sunday's gala. (Jose Garcia/azpreps365)