MISSOULA — As sports continue to be on a hiatus, we continue to find a bright spot by rolling out two of our nominees for the KPAX scholar athlete award.
The five Missoula high schools -- Big Sky, Hellgate, Sentinel, Loyola and Valley Christian -- each have male and female athletes nominated for the KPAX scholar athlete awards. The winners, who will earn $1,000 scholarships toward the colleges they attend, will be announced on May 13.
The nominees feature two Hellgate Knights that impressed in the pool and on the basketball court.
Rollie Worster and Maddy Butler are both two-sport athletes. Butler played softball and swam, while Worster played football and basketball. Worster will play basketball and Butler will swim at the collegiate level.
Watch the video above to hear more about their high school careers.
Maddy Butler's nomination essay:
In my short 18 years of life, I have experienced more health problems than the average kid. The first sport I ever fell in love with was softball.
I started playing at the age of five. As I grew up I tried basketball, soccer, and volleyball, but the next sport I truly loved was swimming. Following this love, I pursued softball and swimming in high school. Athletics in high school taught and gave me many things beyond the physical realm. I am not in the Hellgate district, but I knew it was the school for me. Because Hellgate was not in my district many of my friends went to Big Sky. I went into my freshman year with very few school friends.
Athletics allowed me to find a group of people with the same interests and aspirations while giving me a friend group and social environment I could thrive in. This same group of friends would be the ones to help me through the health struggles soon to come. Throughout my freshman year, my right shoulder constantly hurt.
The more activities I partook in, the worse the pain got. During the winter of my sophomore year, I had my torn labrum fixed and ligaments tightened. The love for athletics I possess allowed me a sense of perseverance and eagerness to get back in the pool and on the field as soon as I could.
A few months after I recovered from my shoulder surgery, I began to experience a new type of health issue. After seeing many specialists in Missoula, I was still no closer to a diagnosis. Continuing sports during this trying time taught me to be adaptable in adverse situations. During March of my junior year with referrals from the neurologist and cardiologist, I went to Mayo Medical Clinic where I was diagnosed with Orthostatic Hypotension, a kidney issue, and POTS or Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome, a condition that affects your heart rate and blood pressure.
This condition is not curable but can be managed. Athletics provided a sense of consistency in a time of disorder. They allowed for a distraction from the unknown. Even if the way I practiced had to change, my competitive drive and attitude did not have to. Athletics gave me something to work for during this time, a sense of accomplishment.
My love for softball and swimming caused me not to give up on my teammates, my sport, or myself when my life was so wildly changing. Having this condition made me feel the need to excel in the areas that I could control. The controllable factors within my athletics prospered, leading to the most successful softball season of my career.
High school athletics taught me integrity, perseverance, and hard work while giving me irreplaceable friendships, memories, and experiences in which I will be forever grateful.
Rollie Worster's nomination essay:
High School athletics are mostly seen through the achievements or awards that have been honored to a team or particular student like myself at the end of a season. But what is not always seen, are the effects that they have on student-athletes every day and for the rest of our lives. That, as well as the life long relationships I have developed over the past four years, high school athletics have taught me discipline, accountability/responsibility, leadership, teamwork, and to work hard.
To even be able to play high school athletics, a student-athlete must reach certain requirements in the classroom and in the community. Specific grades must be obtained throughout the year to take part in athletics. This has taught me to be disciplined from the very start of the school year all the way until the end.
I had to be responsible enough to keep track of my assignments and work hard to stay on top of my grades while I missed school-days for sports. I thought of it in a way that my teammates, school, coaches, and family were all counting on me to do well in the classroom to not only better my life and prepare me for the future, but to also help the team the best that I could. Which would be irrelevant without first getting it done in the classroom.
I also learned quickly that playing high school athletics meant that I didn’t only represent my school on the court, but also off of it. Learning to be accountable by staying out of trouble and surrounding myself with good people is a huge benefit to myself and other student-athletes. The image that I portray out in public is the image that also represents my school and the community I live in. High school athletics not only showed me these things, they required them out of me.
One thing I really struggled with for my first couple of years of playing high school athletics was leadership. I was good at leading by example, but not by using my voice and being a vocal leader. Having a vocal leader is a need for any team that wants to succeed. Knowing how to communicate with people to resolve problems or complications will help me for the rest of my life. Whether it’s my future boss, my teammates, or my family, I have learned through athletics to be able to communicate my opinion or how I feel about something.
Being able to communicate with people is an essential life skill. Especially when trying to work as a team. Playing two team sports for four years straight now, it's come to my realization that a lot of the problems any team faces is due to miscommunication. With miscommunication comes losing games or even something bigger like losing your job later on in life.
To achieve the ultimate award of winning a championship is every student athlete's goal. Knowing how to talk and work with my teammates was essential to my success and our team's success. Athletics taught me teamwork and what it takes to win. But winning is not only in athletics it is in life. To get a job you have always wanted or to have a better relationship with your family is also a win. High school athletics taught me to strive to win at life no matter what the goal is.
It also taught me that the only way to win is through hard work. My dad always told my sisters and I two quotes growing up to live by. The first one was, “every day in every way, we get a little better.” To me, this quote means that no matter a person's circumstance they can always get better somehow.
I believe this is also shown through high school athletics because seasons can be long and hard. But to work hard and keep at it every day we can only better ourselves.
The second quote was, “to be the best, you have to outwork the rest.” I have had a lot of people help me throughout my life and career and I am very grateful for that. But with that being said, hard work is just as important in how I got to where I am today. Athletics have played a large role in how I understand that the only way to achieve what I want in life is through hard work.
High school athletics has taught me many things throughout my 4 years here at Hellgate. They have developed lifelong relationships for me with my teammates, coaches, teachers, and people of the community. I am very grateful and appreciative of these relationships I have developed over the years.
I have had a ton of fun the past four years participating in High school athletics and it has shown me through discipline, accountability/responsibility, leadership, teamwork, and hard work, anything is possible.