Usually, when a group from Topeka is coming to Manhattan High, it’s for competition.
This time, it was to congratulate two teams.
Sen. Tom Hawk and Rep. Sydney Carlin gave commendations from the state legislature to the state champion wrestling and girls’ basketball teams on Wednesday.
“It was really considerate of them to come and really make it special for the girls and know how much they were appreciated,” head girls’ basketball coach Scott Mall said.
Hawk, who wrestled at K-State and coached at the junior high level, knows how tough it is to win a state title.
“Being able to see, and knowing as a coach what it takes to really get a team to work together to do the dedication, Coach Gonzales is incredible to do that,” Hawk said. “As Coach Mall said, I helped hire him back when he was a beginning teacher.
“To see when you support schools and you make sure you have a budget, and excellence is one of your criteria, you get these results.”
Carlin never played sports but stressed the importance of athletics in schools.
“Because of the cuts in education, athletics is on the line and may or may not be available to all students, and it just makes me so proud that Manhattan High makes it a priority and these students are getting the opportunity that they get because of it,” she said
She said sports also teaches life skills.
“Teamwork is such an essential thing for students in their futures, and being able to work together like they do in those close-knit kind of situation is extremely important to their futures,” Carlin said. “And that’s what I’m expecting: a lot of success from these students.”
She said it brought back memories of watching her son, Mike, who played baseball at Manhattan and Notre Dame.
“It’s paid off for him very well, so I know it will pay off for these students,” Carlin said.
Wrestling went first, followed by girls’ basketball. Hawk read the commendation aloud before presenting each member with a copy. The commendation from the House of Representatives didn’t come in time for the presentation.
Gonzales said the framed commendation will hang next to the state title plaque — the third of its kind in Gonzales’ 13 years at Manhattan — in the wrestling practice room.
“For (Hawk and Carlin) to take an hour from their day to come over from the state legislature in Topeka and honor the kids, the boys and girls, I’m just humbled,” he said. “I’m just so proud to be a part of it.”