On Wednesday evening, the players, coaches, staff and Main Street Hooligans gathered for a small awards banquet. Players were treated to a dinner on Palio’s rooftop followed by gelato at Iorio’s ahead of the awards ceremony which was held at LIVE.
When players arrived, they were able to choose from over 100 framed photos from the season, all part of the traditional AFC Ann Arbor awards banquet. The MC for the evening was the club’s match broadcaster Michael Kroodsma who helped honor players who had spent three season with the club. Kyle Breitmeyer aka KB9, Alec Lasinski, Matt Braem, Yuri Farkas and Jake Rosen (unable to attend) all received a framed jersey of from one of their seasons with The Mighty Oak.
From there, Coach Rudland announced the award winners who were unable to be with the team that evening which included Mike Novotny who received the Defensive MVP, Marc Ybarra who received the Hometown Hero award and Stanley Okumu the 2018 Team MVP.
For the first time in four years, the club introduced a new award, the Boyzzz Khumalo award. As Chairman Bilal Saeed described, he’s one of the unsung heroes of organization and having an award named after him was their way of showing their appreciation.
It was fitting that the first recipient of the award was Sergio Campbell, a friend of Khumalo’s who joined the team in April of 2018. Campbell, who was unable to play past the last preseason game due to medical reasons, stepped into a role for the club this year that was unexpected for both the organization and himself. After receiving the award, Campbell was quiet and still and his emotions were heavy in the moment. After twenty seconds of silence passed as he gathered his strength, he spoke to the crowd and specifically his teammates about how much he wish he could be on the pitch with them. His genuine and beautiful words stole the night and the night was just beginning.
After Michael Shaikly and Yuri Farkas received Co-Offensive MVP awards, Jack Cawley received the COYMO award (formerly known as the Strength In The Oak award) to end the awards portion of the evening.
Early front runner for the best dressed competition Yuri Farkas saw some serious competition from Michael Shaikly. But it was late in the competition when the finalists were called to stage and Moco Watson surprised everyone, once again, and won best dressed for the evening.
The evening ended with a special video for the team recapping some of the best moments of the season put together by Bruno Postigo, Creative Director.
Just before the video played, Coach Rudland spoke to everyone about how special this evening was, nonetheless, the past is the past and the focus is on the playoffs. His message was clear and the players and others in attendance agreed wholeheartedly; there is plenty of work left to be done.
Team MVP- STANLEY OKUMU
Co-Offensive MVP- Michael Shaikly
Co-Offensive MVP- Yuri Farkas
Defensive MVP- Mike Novotny
Hometown Hero- Marc Ybarra
COYMO* Award- Jack Cawley
Boyzzz Khumalo Award- Sergio Campbell
*formerly the Strength In The Oak Award