SPECIAL TO THE CATHOLIC HERALD
St. Joseph Catholic Academy senior Elizabeth Alia has been selected as the 2020 Holy Rosary Sports Night Female Athlete of the year.
The annual award, presented to an outstanding high school male and female scholar athlete in Kenosha County, highlights their character, athleticism, community service and achievements.
This year, the 67th Annual Sports Night at Holy Rosary will present the Ameche Awards to Alia, who is a member of the SJCA soccer team, and senior Cameron Huss, a member of the Tremper High School golf team. Both athletes will receive their award scholarships Feb. 9 in the Frank and Corinne Petretti Gymnasium-Auditorium at Our Lady of the Holy Rosary of Pompeii Parish, 2224 45th St., Kenosha.
Named after the late Alan Ameche, the award recognizes the Kenosha native who earned All-State honors with the 1950 Kenosha Red Devils en route to an 8-0 record and ranking as one of the strongest prep teams in state history. He helped Wisconsin post a 26-8-3 record and earned a Rose Bowl berth during his career as a Badger. In 1954, he became the first Wisconsin player to win the coveted Heisman Trophy, which he later donated to the University of Wisconsin. In 1958 and 1959, he helped the Baltimore Colts win NFL titles. Nicknamed “The Horse,” Ameche played in five Pro Bowls and was enshrined in the College Football Hall of Fame in 1975.
Initially a kindergarten through sixth grade school, the parishioners funded an expansion that included additional classrooms, a gymnasium and kitchen. The Holy Name Society raised funds to maintain the gym and provide monetary support for Holy Rosary sports programs. A Fellowship Dinner in 1954 was the birth of Sports Night.
The award was later renamed in honor of Ameche after he donated the trophy that displays the names of all recipients of this prestigious award.
This year’s banquet begins at 4:45 p.m.
According to Anthony Geliche, co-chairman of Sports Night at Holy Rosary, the Holy Name Society-sponsored event has honored more than 100 of Kenosha’s outstanding scholar-athletes with the Alan Ameche Award and the Turco/DeSimone Scholarships.
“We provide a $1,000 scholarship to the student after the completion of their first semester of college with proof of attendance and passing grades,” he said, adding that each year, professional and amateur athletes attend the banquet to help celebrate the accomplishments of the high school scholar-athletes by signing autographs and providing inspirational speeches.
Some former guests include Hank Aaron, Mike Ditka, Rocky Marciano, Heather Mitts, Sal Bando, Dan Needles and Cecil Cooper.
“Sports Night typically draws between 350 and 500 patrons every year,” he said. “This year, Marquez Valdes-Scantling, wide receiver for the Green Bay Packers, will be our celebrity guest.”
Alia is excited and honored to be selected for the 2020 Ameche Award. She learned about it in December when Dave Witthun, SJCA’s athletic director called and told her the news.
“I knew there were a lot of talented athletes nominated, so I am humbled to have been chosen for this award,” she said.
In the fall, Alia plans to attend Marquette University, where she plans to major in either biomedical sciences or nursing.
“I have been admitted into both programs and so that is the next decision I need to make,” she said.
Alia also plans to continue playing soccer in college, whether it is as a walk-on or a member of the club team.
Winning the award is important to Alia, as she knows it is recognized as one of the most prestigious awards that a local high school athlete can receive.
“There’s a great history for this Holy Rosary event and award, and I’m humbled to now be a small part of that history,” she said. “It is truly an honor to have received this award. When I look back to everything involved in achieving this recognition, I’ve come to appreciate the sacrifice and efforts not only that I’ve made, but those of my family, coaches and teammates. Because the sports I’ve played have been team sports, it is something I really couldn’t have achieved on my own.”
As a Catholic athlete, Alia understands the correlation between combining their God-given abilities with hard work to do their best and become the best they are capable of being.
“Every coach that I’ve had at St. Joe’s has first and foremost taught me skills and values aimed at making me a better person, and not just a better athlete,” she said. “They have stressed high character, values such as humility, respect, accountability and commitment, which is part of the Lancer Value System at St. Joe’s, and the importance of how you play the game, and not just wins and losses. As a Catholic athlete, I always try to keep things in proper perspective, and to remember that all we have is a gift from God.”