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Martin Blog (8/3): The 2020 KMAland Baseball Conference Awards



Martin Blog (8/3): The 2020 KMAland Baseball Conference Awards

(KMAland) — Baseball award week is officially here!

Today, we release our KMAland Baseball Conference Awards with a Player, Pitcher, Coach, Senior, Junior, Sophomore and 8th/Freshman of the Year in each of our seven KMAland conferences – Hawkeye Ten, Corner, Western Iowa, Pride of Iowa, Rolling Valley, Missouri River and Bluegrass.

In addition, there will be a “Nine” and a “Five” for the top nine hitters and top five pitchers in each of those leagues. As a reminder, KMA Sports will not respond to any questions or comments on any of the selections.


Offensive Player of the Year: Cy Patterson, JR, St. Albert

Pitcher of the Year: Braiden Heiden, JR, Denison-Schleswig

Coach of the Year: Duncan Patterson, St. Albert

-Patterson hit and hit and hit some more all season long, finishing with a .627 batting average, .716 on-base percentage and 1.068 slugging percentage — all numbers that led the Hawkeye Ten Conference. He also led the league in hits (37), doubles (14), RBI (42) and total bases (63).

-Heiden led the conference with a 0.46 ERA, a 0.91 WHIP (tied), a .108 opponent’s batting average, earned runs allowed (2) and total runs allowed (10) — those latter three with a minimum of 25 innings pitched.

-Coach Patterson may have wrapped this award up in the first week of the season when his team beat Harlan, Lewis Central and Treynor among a stretch of six in six days. They went on to share the conference title and advanced back to state.

Senior of the Year: Lance Wright, St. Albert

Junior of the Year: Cy Paterson, St. Albert

Sophomore of the Year: Cooper Neal, Clarinda

Freshman/8th of the Year: Kayden Anderson, Glenwood

-Wright was right among the state leaders in batting average and on-base percentage all season, finishing with .564 and .706 mark, respectively. He led the league with 41 runs and 12 hit by pitches and added seven doubles, five homers and a triple among 31 hits. He also threw 22 2/3 innings, struck out 20 and had a 1.24 ERA and WHIP.

-Patterson was also a relief ace for the Falcons, throwing 11 2/3 innings and striking out 18 while pitching to a 1.20 ERA.

-Strong summer for Neal at the plate and on the mound. He hit .358/.460/.415 and threw 24 2/3 innings in nine total appearances, finishing with a 1.14 ERA, 26 strikeouts and just seven walks.

-Anderson is a really impressive 8th grader that handled shortstop duties right off the bat and hit .419/.438/.488 for the Rams. He also threw 10 innings and had a 4.20 ERA.

Hawkeye Ten Conference Nine

-Kyle Berg, SR, Kuemper Catholic: The best catcher in the league, Berg had 46 total bases, buoyed by a league-high five triples, three doubles and a home run. He also drove in 28 runs while hitting .390 with a .510 on-base percentage.

-Connor Bruck, SR, Harlan: The Cyclone star hit .561 with seven doubles and drove in 15 runs this season. He also walked 13 times to push his on-base percentage to .648 — one of just four players in the conference with an OBP north of .600.

-Braiden Heiden, JR, Denison-Schleswig: Complete destruction. He had 42 total bases in 20 games played, smashing seven doubles, four homers and a triple while driving in 18 and finishing the year with 42 total bases (tied for 4th in the conference).

-Michael Mulkerrin, SR, Glenwood: He only played in 11 games, but you can’t argue with the results. He had a .452 batting average and a .513 on-base percentage while finishing the season with 14 hits in those 11 contests.

-Cy Patterson, JR, St. Albert: See above

-Jonah Pomrenke, JR, Lewis Central: Another big year for the LC centerfielder, who hit .455 with a terrific .636 on-base percentage behind 16 walks. He had five doubles and a triple among his 20 hits in 17 games.

-Isaac Sherrill, JR, St. Albert: Another Falcons middle-of-the-order hitter, Sherrill had 42 total bases behind three doubles, two home runs and a triple. He also ranked behind Patterson with 34 RBI and finished the season with a .449/.512 AVG/OBP.

-Grant Sturm, JR, Atlantic: Sturm was on base a lot in his 16 games played. He finished with a .582 on-base percentage and a .451 batting average. He walked 11 times, was it by a pitch five more and scored 17 runs in 16 games.

-Lance Wright, SR, St. Albert: See above.

Hawkeye Ten Conference Five

-Connor Bruck, SR, Harlan: A tremendous career finishes with a 1.70 ERA, 45 strikeouts and just 12 walks over 33 innings pitched.

-Easton Dermody, SR, Lewis Central: The Titans ace threw 28 2/3 innings this past season, struck out a league-best 60 and pitched to a 1.95 ERA.

-Braiden Heiden, JR, Denison-Schleswig: See above.

-Jeff Miller, JR, St. Albert: He grabbed the ace spot this year for the Falcons, posting a 2.25 ERA and striking out 54 in 37 1/3 innings.

-Cooper Neal, SO, Clarinda: See above.


Offensive Player of the Year: Nic Duysen, SR, East Mills

Pitcher of the Year: Colby Royal, JR, Stanton

Coach of the Year: Brad Johnson, Sidney

-Duysen led the Corner in a number of offensive categories, including total bases (39), hits (22), doubles (8) and RBI (26) while hitting .489/.603/.867.

-Royal got the ball in the biggest game and more often than not delivered when they needed him to. He led the conference in innings pitched (37), strikeouts (52) and wins (4) and posted a 2.08 ERA for the Vikings.

-Johnson’s team was not the favorite to win the Corner Conference this season, but the Cowboys went out and did just that with an undefeated run through the Corner regular season.

Senior of the Year: Nic Duysen, East Mills

Junior of the Year: Leighton Whipple, Sidney

Sophomore of the Year: Garett Phillips, Sidney

Freshman/8th of the Year: Kyler Owen, Fremont-Mills

-Duysen also tossed 18 2/3 innings and struck out 32 batters to go along with a big year at the plate.

-The Cowboys standout (Whipple) did it on the mound and at the plate this summer, finishing with a .375/.524/.438 triple-slash and scored 20 runs in just 12 games played. He also had 35 strikeouts in 25 1/3 innings and put together a 4-1 record with a 0.99 WHIP.

-Another Sidney standout had a strong two-way year. Phillips struck out 22 batters in 24 innings and allowed just a .160 opponent’s batting average on the mound. At the plate, he hit .314/.467/.343 and had 12 total bases in 12 games.

-Owen had one of the strongest WHIPs (1.36) in the conference while striking out 25, walking just seven and posting a 4.14 ERA in 22 innings. He also hit a strong .357/.449/.476 with five doubles among 15 total hits in 14 games.

Corner Conference Nine

-Jack Anderson, JR, East Mills: Anderson led the conference with a .707 on-base percentage thanks in part to 15 walks and eight HBPs. He also had 18 total hits, drove in 21 and posted a .514 batting average.

-Keygan Day, SR, Stanton: Day had 26 total bases on the season, smashing a trio of doubles and two triples among 19 total hits while driving in 13 in 15 games played.

-Nic Duysen, SR, East Mills: See above

-Seth Malcom, JR, Fremont-Mills: Malcom made his final baseball season a great one, leading the conference with six triples while hitting .405/.522/.784 with 13 RBI and 29 total bases in 14 games.

-Derek Mueller, SR, Griswold: The Griswold senior had just eight games to his name, but they were a really good eight games. He had a .556 batting average, .636 on-base percentage and .944 slugging percentage.

-Will Oswald, SR, Sidney: He turned a big summer into an opportunity with SWCC, finishing his senior season with a .367/.558/.633 batting line that included a league-best two home runs and 12 RBI in 12 games.

-Michael Schafer, SR, East Mills: Schafer hit .468/.567/.511 and posted 24 total bases in 14 games, scoring 19 times and driving in 18 runs.

-James Switzer, SR, Fremont-Mills: Strong summer for Switzer, who hit .413/.460/.630 with four doubles and three triples among 19 total hits while posting 29 total bases (tied for 2nd in the Corner).

-Leighton Whipple, JR, Sidney: See above

Corner Conference Five

-Keygan Day, SR, Stanton: The senior struck out 37 batters in 27 innings, shared the conference-high in wins (4) with several others and put together a strong 3.89/1.59 ERA/WHIP.

-Kyler Owen, FR, Fremont-Mills: See above.

-Colby Royal, JR, Stanton: See above

-Michael Schafer, SR, East Mills: The ERA champion in the Corner Conference, Schafer put together a 1.91 ERA and a 4-1 record while striking out 28 and walking 11 in 22 innings.

-Leighton Whipple, JR, Sidney: See above.


Offensive Player of the Year: Nick Ravlin, SR, Underwood

Pitcher of the Year: Drew Petersen, SR, Treynor

Coach of the Year: Kurtis Hinkel, Logan-Magnolia

-Ravlin was the league’s leader in a number of categories, including slugging percentage (.774), total bases (48), hits (28), doubles (10) and home runs (2, tied) while posting a .452 batting average and a .512 on-base percentage.

-Petersen put forward his best performances in the biggest games of the year. He was insane in his final three games against Tri-Center, Kuemper and Van Meter, combining for 19 2/3 innings, 26 strikeouts and just one run against those three really, really good teams. For the year he had a 1.76 ERA, 51 Ks and just 17 walks over 39 2/3 innings.

-Hinkel pushed the Panthers to one of the top spots in the conference and just one win from the state tournament. Lo-Ma had several big wins throughout the season, too, to solidify this spot in beating Treynor, AHSTW, Tri-Center and Coon Rapids-Bayard, just to name several.

Senior of the Year: Drew Petersen, Treynor

Junior of the Year: Blake Hall, Underwood

Sophomore of the Year: Gavin Smith, Audubon

Freshman/8th of the Year: Jaxon Schumacher, Treynor

-Petersen also had a strong year at the plate for the Cardinals in hitting .309/.437/.436 with four doubles, a home run and 18 RBI in 20 games.

-Another big year for Hall, who finished the season with a .382/.460/.509 triple-slash with seven doubles, 14 RBI and 28 total bases in 17 games. Hall was also outstanding all year with 58 strikeouts over 34 2/3 innings while pitching to a 1.01 ERA and a 0.78 WHIP.

-The leader in the conference in RBI, Smith drove in 20 runs this year behind a .408/.540/.592. He also had a 0.57 ERA and 18 strikeouts over 12 1/3 innings on the mound.

-Schumacher ranked second in the conference with 37 total bases, hit .345/.500/.673 and also ranked second in the conference with 15 walks.

Western Iowa Conference Nine

-Trevor Carlson, SR, Tri-Center: Carlson smashed the ball all summer with 23 total bases in 13 games and finished the season with a .395/.519/.535 hitting line.

-Dylan Cunard, SR, Logan-Magnolia: Cunard posted 30 total bases this season in just 14 games played, ranking third in the conference in that category. He finished with a .423 batting average, a .516 on-base and a .577 slugging percentage.

-Blake Hall, JR, Underwood: See above.

-Brett McGee, JR, Tri-Center: McGee lit up the summer with a strong .488/.543/.561 triple-slash that included 23 total bases in just 13 games.

-Sam Porter, SR, AHSTW: Porter had a .400/.485/.560 hitting line with 14 total bases and nine RBI in just 10 games played this season.

-Nolan Ramsey, SO, IKM-Manning: Ramsey and IKM-Manning had even fewer games this summer, but I can’t knock the results. He hit .438/.457/.469 with 15 total bases and 11 RBI.

-Nick Ravlin, SR, Underwood: See above.

-Jaxon Schumacher, FR, Treynor: See above.

-Gavin Smith, SO, Audubon: See above.

Western Iowa Conference Five

-Blake Hall, JR, Underwood: See above.

-Joel Klocke, JR, Audubon: One-third of the three-headed Audubon monster, Klocke had the lowest ERA (1.69), the lowest WHIP (0.93) and put up 38 strikeouts in 29 innings for the Wheelers.

-Nate McCombs, SR, Treynor: McCombs was a huge piece of the Treynor puzzle as well. He had 38 strikeouts and a 1.95 ERA in 32 1/3 innings.

-Drew Petersen, SR, Treynor: See above.

-Kaleb Smith, SR, Tri-Center: The lowest ERA in the WIC belonged to Smith, who had a 0.87 ERA and a 1.11 WHIP over 32 1/3 innings. He also struck out 26 and walked just 11 for the summer.


Offensive Player of the Year: Bryce Hall, SR, Southeast Warren

Pitcher of the Year: Brennan Sefrit, SR, Bedford

Coach of the Year: Trevor Luther, Lenox

-Southeast Warren had a winner in this spot last year, and they have it again this summer. Hall smashed to the tune of .632/.789/1.184 and had five doubles, four homers and two triples while walking 31(!) times in just 17 games.

-Among a bunch of different options for this spot, Sefrit got the ball in the toughest games, went the deepest in games and put together the most strikeouts. He led the conference with 57 punch outs, posted a 1.96 ERA and a 0.93 WHIP and threw 35 2/3 innings for the Bulldogs. His .155 batting average against is also the top number for pitchers with at least 20 innings pitched.

-Without a true conference race, this is a bit a difficult. However, we love the work Coach Luther did with the Tigers this season. They started 0-6, but they quickly responded with eight consecutive wins on their way to a winning season. I’m not sure that was necessarily expected, and his coaching job is one that deserves praise.

Senior of the Year: Bryce Hall, Southeast Warren

Junior of the Year: Carson Elbert, Martensdale-St. Marys

Sophomore of the Year: Kasey Carter, Martensdale-St. Marys

Freshman/8th of the Year: Jaixen Frost, Mount Ayr

-Along with the offense, Hall threw 28 innings, struck out 47, walked just 15 and pitched to a 2.50 ERA and 1.18 WHIP this summer.

-Elbert posted a .513/.645/.795 triple-slash this summer, finishing with 14 doubles, four triples, 28 RBI, 29 walks and a league-best 39 runs scored in 27 games. He was also a big key for the Blue Devils pitching staff, striking out 40 and putting up a 2.24 ERA/1.48 WHIP while throwing 25 innings.

-Powerful summer for Carter, who smashed eight doubles and three home runs, drove in 28 and scored 39 times. He also walked 32 times and put up a .492/.657/.754 batting line.

-A star in the making, Frost hit .610/.627/1.049 with six doubles and four home runs while driving in 22 runs in just 14 games played. He also threw 8 1/3 innings, struck out 14 and had a 0.00 ERA.

Pride of Iowa Conference Nine

-Kasey Carter, SO, Martensdale-St. Marys: See above.

-Carson Elbert, JR, Martensdale-St. Marys: See above.

-Michel Evertsen, SR, Central Decatur: Evertsen had a big season as well with a .500/.589/.645 line that included nine doubles, a triple, a POI-best 33 RBI and 36 runs scored in 23 games.

-Gunner Fogle, SR, Wayne: He played in just 11 games, but that’s nothing he can help. He hit the heck out of the ball in those games with a .500/.594/.769, including five doubles and a triple.

-Jaixen Frost, FR, Mount Ayr: See above.

-Bryce Hall, SR, Southeast Warren: See above.

-Mason Merfeld, JR, Southeast Warren: Merfeld had eight doubles among his 30 hits, drove in 11 and posted 38 total bases in 17 games this year for the Warhawks. All of that added up to a .484/.568/.613 triple-slash.

-Tyler Pearson, SR, Southwest Valley: Pearson played in just 10 games this season, but he finished the year with a .536/.606/.714 batting line that included 20 total bases in those 10 games.

-Dylan Swaney, JR, Bedford: Swaney had eight doubles among 23 total hits and drove in 17 in just 17 games this season. He finished the year with a .442/.554/.596 triple-slash for the Bulldogs.

Pride of Iowa Conference Five

-Carson Elbert, JR, Martensdale-St. Marys: See above.

-Isaac Gavin, SR, Martensdale-St. Marys: The ace of the best team in the league, Gavin struck out 45 in 33 innings, pitched to a 1.27 ERA and also posted a 1.09 WHIP in leading the Blue Devils to the state tournament.

-Bryce Hall, SR, Southeast Warren: See above.

-Sean Miklus, SR, Martensdale-St. Marys: This one was not on my radar this season, but Miklus proved to be outstanding with a 0.54 ERA, a 0.96 WHIP and 36 strikeouts over 26 innings this season.

-Brennan Sefrit, SR, Bedford: See above


Offensive Player of the Year: Lane Spieker, SO, CAM

Pitcher of the Year: Cade Ticknor, SO, CAM

Coach of the Year: Dan Daugherty, CAM

-This is not to punish a team or player that didn’t play in as many games this summer, but Spieker absolutely crushed the ball for a longer, more consistent time than the rest of the candidates. He had a .480/.591/.940 triple-slash with five doubles, four homers and three triples while driving in an RVC-high 30 runs and also leading the conference with 31 runs scored.

-Ticknor handled the biggest games for the Cougars this year, and he was outstanding with a 1.95 ERA over 32 1/3 innings. He struck out 39, walked just 11 and pitched to a 1.08 WHIP.

-Coach Daugherty has this program humming right now. They’ve dealt with frequent graduation, but they keep churning out terrific teams. An undefeated run through the RVC and a trip to the substate championship is outstanding work.

Senior of the Year: Kolby Nelson, CAM

Junior of the Year: Layne Pryor, Woodbine

Sophomore of the Year: Lane Spieker, CAM

Freshman/8th of the Year: Mason King, West Harrison

-Nelson was one of the best catchers in KMAland this season, throwing out eight runners of 16 that attempted steals. He also had 10 strikeouts and a 0.64 ERA in 11 innings on the mound and hit .370/.462/.500 with 14 RBI and 26 total bases in 18 games.

-Pryor had 19 official at bats this summer, and he definitely made the most of them. He hit five home runs, two doubles and a triple among 10 total hits while driving in 16, scoring 16 and posting a batting line of .526/.679/1.526. I only wish he could have had about 50 more chances at the plate. I know he does, too. He also struck out 35 batters in 20 1/3 innings on the bump.

-Spieker also pitched 26 innings, struck out 38 and had a 3.77 ERA and 1.12 WHIP this summer.

-A big freshman campaign for King, who had 19 total hits in just 12 games, drove in 16 and finished with a .432/.480/.545 batting line for the Hawkeyes. He was great on the slab with a 1.08 ERA, a 0.89 ERA and .208 batting average against this season. He struck out 31 in 26 innings and was a perfect 4-0.

Rolling Valley Conference Nine

-Cory Bantam, SO, Woodbine: What could he have done with a full summer? He hit .522/.593/.957 with four doubles and two home runs in just eight games played.

-Kyle Hast, SR, Boyer Valley: The surprise of the summer was Boyer Valley baseball, and Hast had a big hand in that. He hit .405/.463/.541 with five doubles and drove in 11 for the Bulldogs in just 11 games played.

-Mason King, FR, West Harrison: See above.

-Aaron McAlister, JR, Coon Rapids-Bayard: A strong summer for McAlister that included a .383/.529/.511 batting line, six doubles, 24 RBI and 24 total bases in 18 games played. He also walked 14 times and was hit by a pitch five to boost that strong OBP.

-Tyler Petersen, JR, Exira/EHK: A strong summer for Petersen, who bashed four doubles and two triples while putting up 28 total bases in just 14 games. He hit .465/.574/.651 and drove in 11 for the Spartans.

-Layne Pryor, JR, Woodbine: See above.

-Colby Rich, SO, CAM: Rich smashed this summer with a .420/.468/.660 batting line, including four doubles, two home runs and a triple while driving in 20 and scoring 22.

-Nick Rife, SR, West Harrison: Rife had 12 games and 40 at bats to hit the ball all over the yard, and he did just that with a .450/.551/.550 batting line that included four doubles and 14 RBI.

-Lane Spieker, SO, CAM: See above.

Rolling Valley Conference Five

-Grant Borkowski, SR, Glidden-Ralston: Borkowski was really good this summer, too. He posted a 2.28 ERA, a 1.44 WHIP and opponents hit just .203 off of him. He also struck out 21 batters, walked nine and only allowed five earned runs in just 15 1/3 innings pitched.

-Quentin Culbertson, JR, Coon Rapids-Bayard: Culbertson had a 2.47 ERA and a 1.41 WHIP in 28 1/3 innings this summer for CR-B. He struck out 42 and walked just 14 in nine appearances.

-Mason King, FR, West Harrison: See above.

-Kade Schlepp, SR, Coon Rapids-Bayard: Another strong season for Schlepp, who went 34 2/3 innings, posted a 1.41 ERA and a 0.95 WHIP and struck out 30 against just four walks for the Crusaders.

-Cade Ticknor, SO, CAM: See above.


Offensive Player of the Year: Jared Sitzmann, SR, Bishop Heelan Catholic

Pitcher of the Year: Daniel Wright, SR ,Sergeant Bluff-Luton

Coach of the Year: Matt Nelson, Sergeant Bluff-Luton

-Sitzmann was as good as it gets this summer for the Crusaders, leading the conference in batting average (.508) and slugging percentage (.814) and was among the leaders with 48 total bases, a .577 on-base percentage and 30 total hits (5 doubles, 5 triples and a home run included).

-Wright struck out 54 batters to lead the conference by 20 full Ks. He went 44 innings, pitched to a 0.95 ERA and had a 1.14 WHIP while allowing just a .201 batting average against. His six wins also topped the league.

-When each season starts, every team strives to win their conference and make it to state. SBL did both of those things under the direction of Coach Nelson.

Senior of the Year: Alec Patino, Sioux City East

Junior of the Year: Cael Boever, Sioux City East

Sophomore of the Year: Ian Gill, SO, Bishop Heelan Catholic

Freshman/8th of the Year: Tyler Huey, FR, Thomas Jefferson

-Patino was his usual powerful self in leading the MRC with 52 total bases. He hit .397/.515/.667 with 12 doubles and three home runs on the season. He also threw 22.1 innings and struck out 34 on the mound.

-Opponents found it very difficult to get a hit off of Boever, who allowed just a .171 batting average against while striking out 29 and posting a 1.72 ERA and 1.38 WHIP in 20 1/3 innings. He also hit .319/.495/.522 with 24 RBI.

-Gill ranked second in the conference with a slugging percentage of .730, but he led the MRC with a .607 on-base percentage thanks to 12 walks and six HBP. He also had five doubles, two homers, 12 RBI and 19 runs scored in 15 games.

-Huey had the strongest season fo ra freshman or 8th grade hitter, finishing with a .269/.418/.288 batting line for the Yellow Jackets. He finished with 14 total hits, drove in 10, scored 10 times and had 15 total bases in 22 games.

Missouri River Conference Nine

-Andrew Christensen, SR, Abraham Lincoln: Christensen tied for the conference lead with 26 RBI while posting a .406/.506/.563 triple-slash. He had seven doubles, walked 14 times and had 36 total bases in 23 games.

-Deric Fitzgerald, SR, Sergeant Bluff-Luton: Fitzgerald had six doubles and a home run among 36 total hits and finished with 45 total bases (3rd in the league). The triple-slash line was .468/.582/.584.

-Ian Gill, SO, Bishop Heelaln Catholic: See above.

-Braiden Hurd, JR, LeMars: Hurd hit .426/.537/.500 with 23 total hits, 13 walks, 12 RBI and 12 runs scored in 19 games played.

-Alec Patino, SR, Sioux City East: See above.

-Wade Phair, SR, Sergeant Bluff-Luton: Phair led the conference with four home runs this season and finished with a .333/.444/.533 triple-slash. He drove in 17 runs and had 32 total bases in just 22 games played.

-Jared Sitzmann, SR, Bishop Helena Catholic: See above.

-Ryan Steinspring, SR, Thomas Jefferson: Steinspring was all over the base paths with a .536 on-base percentage, buoyed by 19 walks and 23 total hits. He drove in 13 runs and finished with a final line of .371/.536/.419.

-Max Venne, SR, Bishop Heelan Catholic: Another big year for a Heelan bat, Venne had a .480/.526/.580 with 29 total bases in 15 games.

Missouri River Conference Five

-Cael Boever, JR, Sioux City East: See above.

-Ben Dixon, SR, Bishop Heelan Catholic: One of two seniors on the Heelan staff that held it down, Dixon had a 0.47 ERA over 30 innings. He struck out 27 and walked just four while allowing opponents to hit just .174 against him.

-Brant Hogue, SR, Bishop Heelan Catholic: Hogue was nearly unhittable over 21 innings this season, posting a 0.33 ERA and a 0.48 WHIP while striking out 32 over 21 innings. Opponents managed to hit just .093 off of him.

-Robert Wood, SO, Thomas Jefferson: It was one heck of a breakout for Wood, who struck out 32 and posted a 2.22 ERA over 34 2/3 innings this past summer for the Yellow Jackets.

-Daniel Wright, SR, Sergeant Bluff-Luton: See above.


Offensive Player of the Year: Landon Gilliland, JR, Lamoni

Pitcher of the Year: Bode Dykens, JR, Lamoni

Coach of the Year: Alan Dykens, Lamoni

-Another big year for the Lamoni junior, as Gilliland led the conference in batting average (.535), on-base percentage (.638), slugging percentage (1.000), total hits (23, tied),  and total bases (43). He also drove in 24 on 23 hits in 17 games.

-Dykens was outstanding in his six appearances this season, striking out 19 and pitching to a 1.24 ERA over 22 2/3 innings. Opponents managed just a .067 batting average against him.

-It’s a Lamoni sweep. The Demons went undefeated in conference play, and there weren’t many surprises in how the league turned out this year.

Senior of the Year: Bryce Kaster, Moravia

Junior of the Year: Cale Leever, Ankeny Christian

Sophomore of the Year: Malachi Johnson, Ankeny Christian

Freshman/8th of the Year: Eli Christensen, Ankeny Christian

-Kaster was always on base this year for Moravia, finishing with a .521 OBP to complement a .421 batting average and a .579 slugging percentage. And he played catcher while doing it.

-Leever was a highly important two-way player for Ankeny Christian Academy. He ranked third in the conference with 32 total bases thanks to eight doubles and a triple. He also led the conference with 29 RBI while hitting .407/.484/.593. Leever was also stingy over 24 innings pitched this summer, posting a 1.46 ERA and a 1.08 WHIP while striking out 26 batters and allowing a .140 batting average against.

-Johnson had another great year with a .436/.557/.704 batting line. His four triples led the conference, and he also ranked second with 16 walks and 12 doubles for ACA. He was also the ace of the ACA staff, pitching to a 2.65 ERA and had 27 strikeouts over 34 1/3 innings.

-Pretty good little debut for Christensen, who had 25 total bases on 20 hits while slashing .468/.565/.532. Christensen also had a 2.74 ERA and 20 strikeouts over 15 1/3 innings pitched.

Bluegrass Conference Nine

-Cason Butz, SR, Moravia: Butz had a strong year with a .419/.491/..744 slugging percentage that included 11 doubles, a home run and 32 total bases in just 14 games.

-Eli Christensen, 8th, Ankeny Christian: See above.

-Landon Gilliland, JR, Lamoni: See above.

-Malachi Johnson, SO, Ankeny Christian: See above.

-Bryce Kaster, SR, Moravia: See above.

-Cale Leever, JR, Ankeny Christian: See above.

-Jace Nichols, JR, Twin Cedars: Nichols hit .500/.548/.526 for the Sabers, finishing with 19 total hits and 20 total bases in 15 games.

-Wrigley Shanks, SO, Mormon Trail: Shanks had a strong 14-game sample with six doubles among 24 total bases and drove in 13 runs while hitting .439/.477/.585.

-Brycen Wookey, SO, Murray: Another strong year for the Mustangs backstop, finishing with a .441/.500/.618 with 21 total bases in 13 games this summer.

Bluegrass Conference Five:

-Bode Dykens, JR, Lamoni: See above.

-Malachi Johnson, SO, Ankeny Christian: See above.

-Cale Leever, JR, Ankeny Christian: See above.

-Jaiden Rivera, JR, Lamoni: River opened the year with an injury, but he found his way by the end of the year. The numbers included 14 1/3 innings pitched, 23 strikeouts, a 2.93 ERA and a .145 batting average against.

-Gabe Stripe, SO, Mormon Trail: Stripe struck out 24 in 21 1/3 innings and posted a 2.62 ERA with a 1.78 WHIP over five appearances this summer.

KMA Sports will not respond to any questions or comments on our selections.


Adrienne Shelly’s widower confronts her killer in new film



Adrienne Shelly's widower confronts her killer in new film

Andy Ostroy treasures the photographs he’s taken over the years of his daughter, Sophie. They capture the milestones in her life: first days at school, triumphs in soccer and even her attempts to ride a bicycle without training wheels.

In a heartbreaking scene from “Adrienne,” the documentarypremiering Wednesday on HBO — Ostroy directed about his late wife, actress Adrienne Shelly, he shows some of those pictures to the man who killed Sophie’s mother when the girl was just two.

“Adrienne missed a lot,” Ostroy tells Diego Pillco during an emotionally charged visit to the killer’s prison in upstate New York.

Dropping Sophie’s images onto a table in turn, he describes each one in detail. “This is her first birthday after her mom left her,” Ostroy notes.

The shocking death of rising star Adrienne Shelly was reported on the front page on November 3, 2006.
The shocking death of rising star Adrienne Shelly was reported on the front page of The Post on Nov. 3, 2006.

The next photo he puts in front of the inmate shows Sophie as a teenager, laughing as she eats a slice of cake. “Her most recent birthday — still no mom.”

It’s impossible to tell whether or not Pillco is moved by Ostroy’s commentary since the 34-year-old former construction worker is impassive throughout. Finally, while being led back to his cell, he mumbles the words “I’m sorry” in Spanish.

As Ostroy later admits in the movie: “My life will always be about grief. That will always be the ghost in the room. That love that I had at that time didn’t go anywhere. It froze. It’s like she is frozen in time.”

The documentary finds that Shelly’s personal life and career could not have been happier, busier or more promising when she was killed, at age 40, on Nov. 1, 2006.

The Queens-born actress, writer and director, who married Ostroy 12 years earlier, had starred in more than 20 films. They ranged from indie productions such as 1989’s “The Unbelievable Truth” to more mainstream movies like 2005’s “Factotum” with Matt Dillon, Lili Taylor and Marisa Tomei.

Sadly, Shelly didn’t live to see the runaway success of her passion project, “Waitress” — the quirky drama that she wrote, directed and co-starred in alongside Keri Russell. The movie was released to critical acclaim a year after her murder and has since been adapted as a hit Broadway musical.

Shelly, who lived with Ostroy and Sophie in the West Village, did most of her writing away from the family home, in a nearby Abingdon Square apartment that she rented.

Pillco, then a 19-year-old illegal immigrant from Ecuador, was helping renovate another apartment in the building in November 2006.

Shelly with daughter Sophie, who was just a toddler when the actress was killed.

In the documentary, he tells Ostroy through a translator that he “needed money” and had been roaming the property looking for cash and other things to steal. He snuck into Shelly’s office and rifled through her purse, only to be caught red-handed by the five-foot-two-inch mom.

“The lady came out and she ran after me,” Pillco recalls on camera, sparing none of the gruesome details as Shelly’s widower listens in horror. “And when she started yelling at me, the only word that I heard her say was ‘police.’”

As Shelly went to seize her phone, he says, he grabbed her from behind, covered her mouth and told her not to call the cops.

Shelly in Abingdon Square in the West Village.
Shelly in Abingdon Square in the West Village. She was killed in the nearby apartment she used for an office.
The New York Post

“I lost it and I was choking her with my hand,” continues the killer, who pleaded guilty to first-degree manslaughter and was sentenced to 25 years for his crimes. “At the same time, I was covering her mouth so that she wouldn’t make noise. I took my hand off and I let her go.”

Both Ostroy and the translator look repulsed as Pillco goes on to reveal how he knew the actress was dead: “I saw that her lips were blue so I thought: ‘Oh, I killed her.’”

Pillco explains how he dragged Shelly to the bathroom and fashioned a noose from a bedsheet — then hung her from the shower curtain rail so to make it look “like she had committed suicide.”

After a long pause, Ostroy leans forward and asks: “Did you think you’d gotten away with it?”

“Yes,” Pillco replies.

But he hadn’t. Detectives first claimed that Shelly had taken her own life but that was immediately challenged by Ostroy and other family members who refused to believe it.

Shelly was born on June 24, 1996, in Queens, and raised with two brothers. Her father, Sheldon Levine, died suddenly when she was 12. A gifted singer and dancer, she began performing around the age of 10 — and later dropped out of Boston University to pursue acting in Manhattan. Shelly’s breakthrough role came in 1989 in independent filmmaker Hal Hartley’s “The Unbelievable Truth,” which led to other ingenue roles in indie movies.

Elaine Langbaum, Shelly’s mom, remembers in the documentary not being being able to accept that her daughter had committed suicide.

Shelly's passion project was writing, directing and starring in "Waitress."
Shelly’s passion project was writing, directing and starring in “Waitress.”
Fox Searchlight

“This was the time of her life,” Langbaum says, referring to Shelly’s devotion to Sophie, whom she’d given birth to at age 38. “This was it — the time she’d wanted her whole life. And she wanted to kill herself?”

But Pillco was quickly fingered for the murder. Detectives found a shoe print in Shelly’s bathtub that was identical to one discovered in the dust of the downstairs apartment being renovated — and the tread matched Pillco’s sneakers. After being arrested, and he was arrested, he confessed within hours.

Retired NYPD homicide detective Irma Rivera-Duffy, who became a friend of Shelly’s family and appears in the documentary, reveals that Pillco admitted his guilt after she told him the victim’s toddler was the same age as his own niece.

“After I got the confession, driving in my car, I got a nice cold chill in the back of my neck and the hairs stood up,” Rivera-Duffy tells Ostroy in the documentary. “I felt it was your wife thanking me for having had this guy confess so that your daughter didn’t have to go through life thinking it was a suicide.”

Ostroy, a producer and director who previously owned a marketing company for 20 years, recalls in the film how he “lost control of my body and dropped to the floor and started crying” when the lead detective told him of Pillco’s confession.

“It was everything I wanted to hear,” he says. “There was no way Adrienne killed herself. Suicide simply wasn’t possible. She was the happiest that I’d ever seen her.”

Diego Pillco admitted to killing Adrienne Shelly after she threatened to call police after catching him going through her belongings.
Diego Pillco pled guilty to first-degree manslaughter in the death of Adrienne Shelly and is now serving 25 years in prison.

The documentary opens with a home video recorded at a low-key Halloween party with friends on Oct. 31, 2006. It shows two-year-old Sophie in a princess dress and Shelly noting that the toddler’s favorite song is “Twist And Shout.”

“Every horrible day in history has a much happier day before,” Ostroy theorizes in the film. “This [Halloween] was ours. I went to bed that night the luckiest guy alive. By the next night, I was living the worst nightmare imaginable.”

Now 62, he has instant recall of both the dramatic and seemingly trivial details of Nov. 1, 2006. He was grateful that he left home later than usual for the office and got to spend a little more time with his family. Then he dropped off Shelly at Abingdon Square before driving to his own place of work.

“I just watched her walk away into the building and that was the last time I saw her,” he says in the movie.

Widowed husband XXXX and daughter XXX look through a high school yearbook with Shelly.
Widower Andy Ostroy and daughter Sophie look through Shelly’s high school yearbook.

Ostroy had a busy day at work but says there was unusual “radio silence” from his wife, whom he couldn’t reach on email, cell or landline. Their nanny hadn’t heard from her either. “It was incredibly atypical,” he recalls. “[I had] this intuition that something really awful has happened.”

A close friend drove him to Adrienne’s building in the late afternoon. When his wife didn’t answer the intercom, he went up to the apartment and found the door unlocked. “It just popped open, and that’s when the real panic set in,” Ostroy says. “It was just palpable. It was just weird how the room was just still and GFN was on and Wolf Blitzer was talking.”

As he moved through the eerie space to look for his wife, dark forces seemed to be at work. “It was like there was evil in that room,” he remembers. “Really, that’s how I felt. I felt there had been a monster in the room.”

Then he found her body in the bathroom.

Andy Ostroy and Adrienne Shelly while visiting Paris.
Ostroy and Shelly in Paris.

“I remember thinking in that moment: ‘Is this really happening?’ I was supposed to go there and find her [Adrienne] outside saying, ‘Oh Andy, I’m so sorry,’” he recalls. “I wasn’t supposed to find her dead.”

And then he had to explain to little Sophie why her mother was no longer there. “I mean what do you say to a kid who can’t handle much?” he asks. In the end, he told the toddler: “Mommy died. Her body stopped working. She’s not coming home anymore.”

Tearing up in the documentary, Ostroy recounts Sophie’s sorrowful reaction. “She walked to the window and turned to me and said: ‘Mommy died. She’s not coming back.’ And I said, ‘No, she is not coming back.’ And she just started out of the window and that was it.”

Despite saying in the documentary that his life “will always be about grief,” Ostroy has thrown himself into a non-profit organization he established after Shelly’s death. The Adrienne Shelly Foundation awards scholarships, grants and stipends to women film makers.

The widower explains in his film that the initiative has helped him cope. “I just made a decision early on that I need to accept what happened — in that ‘s–t happens, life’s not fair’ kind of way — but also try to spin some gold with it,” Ostroy says. “To turn what is probably the most horrible negative of my life to something positive.”

Ostroy describes having some “really dark moments” after his wife’s death when he would crawl into Shelly’s closet and wrap himself in her clothes just to feel closer to her. But he knew he had to keep it together for the sake of their daughter.

Shelly poses for a photo. Years later, her daughter, XXX, recreates the shot in remembrance of her mom.
Fifteen years after her mom’s death, Sophie (right) re-creates Shelly’s pose in front of Moulin Rouge.
HBO (2)

“All of the sudden, a routine set in and I just looked at [Sophie] and made her a promise that she’s going to grow up happy and healthy,” he says in the documentary. “We’re a team and we’re going to be okay.”

Nevertheless, he couldn’t help obsessing about Pillco’s criminal psyche. In 2011, Ostroy wrote to the killer, who sent him a long letter of apology in reply. The widower only decided to visit Pillco in jail after resolving to make a documentary to celebrate Shelly’s legacy.

On the morning of the trip to Pillco’s Catskills prison, Ostroy received a pep talk from Sophie. Interviewed in the film, the now 15-year-old says of her mom, “Every time I think of her, I think of [Pillco] too.” Growing up, she frequently questioned her dad about the intricacies of what had happened on Nov. 1, 2006, as they tried to come to terms with their loss.

“I want him [Pillco] to shed light on stuff and acknowledge what he did and who he took and the consequences of that,” Ostroy says on the drive to the prison. Then he manages a bit of dark humor: “It’d be funny if everything I said just goes out the window and I go into some fucking rage and I get carted out of there.”

Shelly was killed at her apartment in the West Village. After killing her, Pillco tried to make it look like a suicide. Neighbors left flowers at her door.
Shelly’s building in the West Village, where Pillco tried to make her death look like a suicide.
Robert Miller; William Farrington

That didn’t happen. After listening to Pillco’s account of the murder — prefaced by the killer’s claim that he was “never aggressive” — Ostroy looks him in the eyes.

“I want you to know that you took a wife, you took someone I was madly in love with and you took a mother,” Ostroy tells Pilco. Then he hands over another picture, this time of Sophie and Shelly together.

“That’s my daughter with her mom,” he says. “They don’t have anything any more. And they had everything.”

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The young designers shattering stereotypes around Indian fashion



The young designers shattering stereotypes around Indian fashion

In a country of 1.3 billion, diversity in dress is a given. Still, perceptions of Indian fashion — both within and beyond the country’s borders — remain bound by stale visions of saris in blinding hues, traditional clothing and elephant, peacock and tiger motifs. These lazy assumptions are compounded by the fact that some of the largest players in the luxury fashion industry quietly contract thousands of the country’s artisans to embroider eyewateringly-expensive products in factories that fail to meet basic safety standards, as reported by GFN. And while outside of India, members of the diaspora such as Supriya Lele, Kaushik Velendra, Priya Ahluwalia, and Ashish Gupta are among the names known for helping to dismantle stereotypes attached to ‘Indian dress’, it’s time for the fashion world to acknowledge the young, India-based designers doing so, too.

These non-conformist minds deliberately refrain from dipping their feet into the nation’s lucrative $50 billion wedding market (in India nuptials are typically extravagant affairs spread over multiple days, and the quest for the perfect bridal outfit stokes high demand for full-time couturiers). By refusing to jump on the bandwagon and taking the path less trodden, the designers behind AKHL Studio, Bloni, Bodice and Aroka are consciously bypassing staid exoticist perceptions of India to celebrate how far we’ve come. Rooted in tradition but not restricted by it, their clothes are proudly ‘Made in India’ but globally relevant.

A model wearing a look by AKHL Studio

Image courtesy of AKHL Studio

A model wearing a look by AKHL Studio

Image courtesy of AKHL Studio

A model wearing a look by AKHL Studio

Image courtesy of AKHL Studio

AKHL Studio

“We need to stop turning our craft into clichés just because we feel like the West will lap it up”, is Akhil Nagpal’s immediate response when asked to explain the premise of his Delhi-based avant-garde label. At first glance, AKHL Studio’s iridescent, sculptural silhouettes may not seem like an average Indian fashion consumer’s cup of chai (tea), but that’s precisely the point – the CSM alum’s driving motivation is to rewrite the narrative of what the global fashion community expects from the country’s fashion designers; to “push the envelope with what can be achieved with the Indian hand”.

With its metallic tulle dresses spliced with vivid lurex tapes, gradient-dyed silk organza tops and robust bustiers embellished with hand-embroidered glass yarn fringes, AKHL Studio’s latest collection, ‘Reflektor’, embodies this vision. A clue for what makes the collection so appealing is right there in its title. “The key garments in this collection have first been handwoven on the loom and then interlaced with upcycled yarn to achieve interesting shapes. Some of the biodegradable materials used such as thermoplastic polyurethane are light-sensitive and thus the title Reflektor seemed apt”, Akhil reveals.

A model wearing a look by AKHL Studio

Image courtesy of AKHL Studio

The designer’s desire to create multidimensional pieces of wearable art was further consolidated by the support of his atelier, a group of weavers and artisans from villages across India, who shared a similar zeal for delivering the unexpected. “Our artisans can execute modern patterns and styles, however, it’s up to designers to push them in that direction and lead the way in contemporising Indian craft”, he says. What makes his practice yet more impressive is that he’s able to do that without succumbing to the “hamster wheel” of the seasonal fashion calendar. Instead, Akhil has opted to preserve the value of slow, ethical Indian craft which his tight-knit community cherishes. An important guiding principle for the designer is “creating something new and letting it find its people”, he notes.  It’s safe to say that AKHL Studio found theirs.

A model wearing a vinly outfit from Bloni

Image courtesy of Bloni



While boys his age spent their days playing gully (street) cricket and football, Akshat Bansal pored over yards and yards of intricately printed fabrics in the back of his father’s sari store. He wasn’t just a mesmerised kid in a sartorial candy shop, however. Instead, the interest in textiles he demonstrated back then was an indication of things to come.

After completing a formal fashion education at National Institute of Fashion Technology (NIFT), Mumbai, before heading on to Central Saint Martins, he then landed a coveted apprenticeship at Cad & the Dandy on Savile Row. It was there that he received a year-long fastidious schooling in tailoring, learning to appreciate the importance of consistency, discipline and the accuracy of every stitch. Akshat then flew back to India only to realise the absence of homegrown brands catering to something other than the country’s booming wedding and occasion-wear market.


And so, in Delhi in 2017, Bloni was born – a demi-couture brand that questions fashion’s norms through free-spirited storytelling and futuristic, genderless designs. “It’s all about cross-pollination and fluidity right now. Thanks to social media, we are all hybrids of sorts who aren’t limited by borders – our wardrobe needs to reflect that too,” Akshat says. A quick look at the brand’s previous collections – think jet black leather finished satin saris, flouncy skirts, fun tie-and-dye and cutout bodysuits made with nylon from ocean waste –is all it takes to confirm that.

If you’re after further proof of the brand’s sustainability credentials, step into Bloni’s flagship store in Delhi’s Dhan Mill compound. While you’ll find plenty of peppy clothing on the rails, these aren’t pieces you can pick up at whim. Be it their fluorescent tie-dye overcoats (hand-dyed by Akshat himself) or sequinned hoodie dresses, every garment is made-to-measure, and fitted to the body like a second skin. “I think the future of fashion comes down to this – if it’s more personal, it’s more sustainable,” he says. “If it feels special to you, then you want to cherish it regardless of the trend cycle.”

A model wearing an outfit by Bodice

Image courtesy of Bodice

A model wearing an outfit by Bodice

Image courtesy of Bodice


“If I knew as much as I know today, there’s no chance I would have started Bodice back in 2011. It takes a certain naivety to plunge into a completely new space”, Delhi-based designer Ruchika Sachdeva admits. With the aim of challenging externally imposed distinctions between Indian and Western fashion, the London College of Fashion alum drew up the blueprint for her textile-driven contemporary label within a year of graduating. This line of thought may not be perceived as radical today, but it certainly was 10 years ago when Ruchika arrived back home to find a lack of options that celebrated India’s wealth of craftsmanship without succumbing to conventions of flamboyance, colours and bling galore.

Armed with enthusiasm for offering minimalist ensembles for the modern Indian woman, Ruchika built Bodice to highlight the nuances of Indian fashion that often get buried beneath all the glitz. “It might look pared down on the outside, but there’s so much going on inside – the seams, the cut and the fall need to come together perfectly so that a dress is tucked in just the right places and highlights a woman’s curves”, she says.

Just as crucial to Ruchika as the construction of her garments is minimising the environmental impact involved in making them and forming long-lasting relationships with artisans in different corners of the country. Bodice’s garments are made exclusively using locally procured natural fibres such as recycled cotton from Kolkata, silk and wool directly sourced from Bhutti weavers in the Kullu region of Himachal Pradesh, all in a bid to support India’s fibre producers. “Being in Delhi, the air you breathe is a constant reminder of the fact that you’ve got to be conscious and do your bit – if not now, then when?”, Ruchika says. Keeping in mind that India’s capital tops the list in having the worst air quality in the world and recently went into lockdown, not because of coronavirus, but because of the toxic smog that engulfed the city – it’s imperative for brands, now more than ever, to be mindful about the environment.

A model wearing an outfit by Bodice

Image courtesy of Bodice

Apart from having a strong focus on sustainability and versatility, there’s another defining feature of Bodice’s trans-seasonal apparel – pleats. Giving fluid silhouettes a “powerful” structure, she says, her yen for the technique was a reactionary result to her daily environment. “Being born and brought up in India, I’m used to an overload of sensory experiences; there’s a million things happening and it’s so chaotic. Sometimes I think my love for pleating stems as an innate response to that, almost like a need to streamline things and indulge in some sort of repetitive practice.”

Despite it being a time-consuming technique that requires mathematical precision, Ruchika relishes the challenge. What helps? Visualising the woman she designs for: “I like the fact that my customer is me – in her early 30s, independent and finally able to put her foot down. At Bodice, we are always striving to help this woman occupy space quietly but with a steadfast attitude. I believe that clothes are the first conversation you have with anybody without even opening your mouth; it’s a form of art that’s the closest to your body”, she says. Who knew pleats could be the new pillar of power-dressing?

A model wearing an outfit by Aroka

Image courtesy of Aroka

A model wearing an outfit by Aroka

Image courtesy of Aroka

A model wearing an outfit by Aroka

Image courtesy of Aroka


Āroka’s (a Sanskrit word that translates to light shining through woven threads) debut collection of vibrant pieces interspersed with traditional silhouettes like the lehenga and sari played it safe and won hearts.  However, it wasn’t close to the paradigm shift that its co-founders Karan Ahuja and Shweta Aggarwal wanted to accomplish. The duo yearned to cut through the existing noise and experiment with Indian textiles to present them in a globally relevant light. Despite the looming risk of losing its existing customer base and entering uncharted territory, they decided to push ahead with a complete revamp of Āroka’s design philosophy in 2019.

“I enjoy challenging the usual use of local fabrics. For example, we have re-introduced handwoven muslin with ruching techniques to create slinky halter necks and crop tops. India is well-known for its khadi (handloom cotton), but I give it a textural treatment by incorporating raw, frayed edges”, says Shweta, an Instituto Marangoni graduate who is also Āroka’s creative director. The Mumbai-based label’s repository now consists of understated jewel-toned slip dresses, funky asymmetrical outerwear they tag as ‘half and half jackets’, sultry bandeau tops and easy-breezy kaftans that gained a cult following which continued to grow even during the pandemic.

A model wearing an outfit by Aroka

Image courtesy of Aroka

Shedding light on social issues that plague today’s society is the foundation upon which they built their proposal. Inducing conversations around sustainability, fair trade and mental health, where Āroka’s garments do all the talking, is pivotal to its DNA. Notice the subtle yet hopeful messaging embroidered onto the sleeves of its linen tops, belts and bomber jackets such as ‘This too shall pass’, ‘Still, I rise’, and ‘It’s okay to not be okay’.

When the nation was hit by a devastating second wave of the pandemic in April earlier this year, Āroka launched ‘Quote Your Price’, an initiative to recognize the unwavering efforts of its artisanal community. “Our karigars (artisans) can create something no one else can anywhere in the world. Yet, most of them are severely underpaid, exploited by middlemen and subjected to unethical working conditions – even more so during the pandemic. Through this initiative, we wanted consumers to become conscious of the handiwork and attention to detail our artisans pour into the making of each garment and then quote the amount they wished to pay for the same”, the duo explains. Proceeds from those sales were donated to Dastkar – a non-profit organization supporting Indian craftspeople.

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Ducks: the future of the fashion industry



Ducks: the future of the fashion industry

A typical day in the life of UO sophomore Christopher Kiyota consists of checking his Instagram direct messages for new orders to his sneaker resale business, going through his inventory list and making a trip to the post office for new shipments — all between classes and study sessions. This is the ordinary routine of a young college business owner living out his dream with ambitions of taking his passion to new heights.

Running and managing a business is no easy feat as a full-time college student, but these four UO students have channeled their love for fashion into self-made brands and career ventures. They each hope to express their creativity and inspire others by making an impact on the world through their own fashion outlet.

The vintage connoisseur: Alexandra Webster


When the COVID-19 pandemic hit and UO’s track season was cancelled, student athlete Alexandra Webster had a lot of free time on her hands. Already known by friends and family for her unique curation of vintage outfits, she started developing her skill for thrifting and personal styling.

“I started to get motivated because you don’t have anything else to do,” Webster said. “I started getting into fashion and clothing to try to keep myself busy.”

Noticing her newfound interest in fashion and thrifting, her mom suggested the idea of turning what was a quarantine hobby into a monetary opportunity by opening her own store. With thrifting rising in popularity amid the pandemic, Webster realized her knack for hand selecting thrifted items could become her own business that could help others with their style too.

2021.11.29.Cover story. Alexa-6.jpg

Alexa talks about how she eventually wants to bringing Approach Vintage online one day. Students with style: UO students discuss their fashion businesses and why they got started. (Ali Watson/Emerald)

She took the leap and opened up her own clothing store: Approach Vintage.

A resale store of unique vintage pieces and popular trendy items, Approach Vintage is located at The Woodlands Mall in her hometown of Houston, Texas, serving as a way to share her love of fashion with others. The store offers all kinds of original pieces, such as oversized jeans, bomber jackets, graphic tees, bucket hats and more. In the nearly two years since the start of her business, Webster has already seen massive success and growth, reaching six figures in sales within her first year of opening the store, she said.

Webster described how truly blessed she was to have that opportunity fall in her lap and be able to get her vintage store started right down the street from where she lived.

“People have been so supportive,” Webster said. “All my friends are always walking by, showing me when they’re at the store; they’ll take a photo and tell me that they’re there. It’s amazing.”

As a new small business owner, it can be difficult to promote your business and gain a wider customer base. Starting out, Approach Vintage was no exception to those challenges.

“The hardest thing was getting my name out there, because I’ve never really known what to do with marketing and promoting myself and a small business that just started out,” Webster said. “But once people started hearing about it, I saw that people love it, and they’re posting about it.”

In the future, Webster wants to expand her brand and branch out into other lines and chains under the same name, broadening her product line as well as her customer base. She plans to start Approach Athletics, a new business with a focus on athletic wear, in the near future.

“I like the idea of not being afraid to do something,” Webster said. “Life’s pretty short, so just do it.”

The ultimate sneaker plug: Christopher Kiyota


Christopher Kiyota started out with $180 in his pocket and one pair of used shoes to scrub, clean and resell. Then, one pair turned into two. With consistency, dedication and curiosity about the sneaker resale business, the UO sophomore built his business, WhasianKicks, from the ground up, figuring out how to run and manage a reselling business all on his own.

“I feel like for once I was able to get out of my comfort zone and challenge myself,” Kiyota said. “Growing up in San Diego, you don’t really see a lot of opportunities to grow as something different than just a student or an athlete.”


Christopher built his successful business all on his own from the ground up. Students with style: UO students discuss their fashion businesses and why they got started. (Photo courtesy of Christopher Kiyota)

In the fashion world, nothing can quite compare to the competitive demand and almost religious reverence some people have for sneakers. Entrepreneurs like Kiyota have taken advantage of the thriving culture of sneaker reselling, which allows sneakerheads to make a profit from buying and reselling high-demand or rare sneakers.

With over 18,000 followers on Instagram, Kiyota has taken his love for sneakers to new heights by becoming an in-demand sneaker reseller and supplier in Eugene. Drawing in hundreds of customers per day through his social media, Kiyota said he has sold sneakers to countless customers, including fellow UO students and some major names and athletes as well, such as Deebo Samuel and Noah Beck.

His sneakers are kept in a storage unit where customers can set up a reservation to shop in person, but high customer demand can make it overwhelming to manage, he said.

“As it got bigger and bigger, it started to get harder to maintain these people,” Kiyota said. “When you’re getting 120 DM requests per day about shopping, you get so flooded.”

Kiyota plans to open a storefront for WhasianKicks in the downtown Eugene area by January so he can reach more people and provide better customer service.

“I want to have an optimistic influence on people and make sure I create an atmosphere surrounding my business of happiness and memories,” Kiyota said. “Just something along the lines of you’re going to remember it for years to come. It’s not going to be like you remember my name just because of the shoes I sold you, but you remember it because of how it made you feel.”

The bling buff: Emily Roberts

BlackCatsSparkle on etsy

Emily Roberts grew up in the tiny town of Big Bear, California, and spent most of her life there. She moved up to Oregon during the peak of the pandemic, which was a somewhat difficult experience, she said. She had a hard time finding a job in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic as well as making friends during a completely remote first year at the university. Soon enough, Roberts began making jewelry.

She decided to make some earrings with her friend one day for her birthday, and that friend was quick to suggest Roberts start her own Etsy shop with original jewelry pieces. Despite the immediate support for this potential small business venture, she was originally skeptical of the idea.

2021.11.29.Cover story. Emily-1.jpg

Emily has been making artistic pieces since a young age. Students with style: UO students discuss their fashion businesses and why they got started.(Photo courtesy of Emily Roberts.)

“Slowly over time, my family and my friends here and everyone I knew were basically pressuring me to open an Etsy, and I was just like ‘It’s not going to do well guys,’” Roberts said. “But I opened it anyway, and it’s been doing better than I thought.”

Pursuing creative projects and making artsy pieces since she was young, the UO sophomore has used her artistic roots to create her own small business of handcrafted crystal jewelry. She primarily sells her pieces from her online shop on Etsy, BlackCatsSparkle, but also recently began setting up her own stand to sell her creations in person in Salem.

Crafting everything from earrings and bracelets to necklaces and even wreaths, she has seen success with her business in the UO community. She caters to students with fun crystal, skull and mushroom designs, keeps prices inexpensive and delivers to local customers. She has even reached beyond her Etsy shop and sold some of her pieces in the Halicuna Bay Mall in Salem, selling over $60 worth of products on her first day.

“I just really love seeing people wearing my product,” Roberts said. “I adore seeing people around campus and my friends wearing my stuff in their photos. It’s just really rewarding and makes me really happy.”

Her goal is to inspire students and all people to shop locally and from small businesses, a more sustainable, cheaper option that supports good people with good causes.

“If I can make jewelry forever as like a secondary job, that would be fantastic,” Roberts said. “It’s really nice to have that creative outlet; it’s something I can see myself doing for a long time.”

The game day aficionado: Noah Gould


A typical Oregon Duck football game is electrified with the energy of thousands of die-hard Duck fans. If you’ve been to a home game recently, especially in the student section, you might have noticed the word Autzen in a green, Supreme-like box logo plastered on the shirts, hoodies and beanies of many students and other fans. If so, you have witnessed the work of UO 2019 graduate Noah Gould and his revitalized game day clothing brand BoxenAutzen.

With a focus on providing gear for football games, Gould was inspired to create his brand when he noticed the large price margin of common game day gear while studying abroad in Italy in the fall of 2017. Being the first time he had interacted with game day outside of Eugene, he had an epiphany.

“Something I noticed quickly was that everyone was wearing the same things,” Gould said. “It was pretty much Nike jerseys and a couple beat tees sprinkled here and there. You’re looking at a beat tee, which they’re giving out for free, and you look at a Nike jersey and they retail for $150.”

Gould realized the majority of game day attire fell on either end of this cost spectrum with no real middle ground. That was the moment he was inspired to fill this gap.

After his time in Italy, his newfound inspiration led him to design some shirts intended to only be worn by his friends. Through the fall of 2018, the orders simply kept coming in, eventually passing 500, Gould said. It was not long before he received backlash from the university’s brand management, claiming he was making a profit by infringing on their word: Autzen. By early 2019, Gould said he received a cease and desist letter from the university to stop his business, and he did.


Noah Gould, a UO graduate, sports gameday apparel from his Autzen-inspired clothing brand, BoxenAutzen. Students with style: UO students discuss their fashion businesses and why they got started. (Photo courtesy of Henry Ammann)

With a dwindling sense of spirit for the university amid this legal turmoil, he eventually connected with a local manufacturer that had an existing pipeline to get products licensed and to work directly with the university.

“I figured out a way to get my products through this licensing funnel where I can sell products and the university can make royalties off of them,” Gould said.

By the middle of 2020, he finally had UO’s support to sell his product and was receiving sales orders from the Duck Store. Designing from his home in Los Angeles with his production and shipping teams based in Eugene, his business came back in full swing, and Gould has been amazed by the success he’s seen for this season.

“Going into Autzen the night of Nov. 13, I was blown away at how much BoxenAutzen I saw around the stadium,” Gould said. “It’s really rewarding to see it where it’s supposed to be seen — in its natural habitat on a Saturday.”

With plans to grow the business and reach beyond a football focus and branch out into gear for all sports all year round, Gould said he wants his brand to be something that will stick around in five to 10 years. Being immersed in such a large market of Duck fans pouring in year after year motivates him to want to make a bigger impact on UO culture and future generations to come.

“I want to share my love for the Ducks with the world,” Gould said. “I want to make you feel or at least remember what it was to be a student and to be in Autzen with all your best friends on a Saturday.”

A creative spirit, a consistent dedication and a passion for their craft is what set these students apart as individuals who have been making waves in their community and establishing their mark on the world one sale at a time.

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