Last Saturday, in a night that had constant feelings of appreciation, joy and reflection, Boys & Girls Clubs of Mason Valley honored their youth, volunteers and other members of the community in a packed gymnasium at their annual Youth of the Year ceremony. The ceremony kicked off with the singing of the National Anthem by local youth Tierra Marshall. Former Nevada Football coach Chris Ault then took the stage as the keynote speaker.
Ault spoke about his experiences as a player and coach in dealing with adversity and how to get done what needs to get done. He brought up his first coaching stint with Nevada, and all the hard work and dedication it took to move up the rankings and through the lower divisions until finally the Wolf Pack was playing Division I football. Through it all, Ault said, one thing remained important.
“Our youth were always the focus,” Ault said.
He also spoke about what a wonderful thing it was to see a community, like Reno, rally around a cause.
Throughout the night, the audience heard speeches from each of the seven Youth of the Year candidates, including Matt Phillips, Tommy Crowder, Jeffrey Valladares, Carlos Rodrigues and Shawn Spurlock from Yerington and Ashley Keith and Yerith Anaya from Silver Springs. Each member talked about struggles in their lives, such as experiences with suicide and divorce, and how the Club helped them to find some stability and support. The Youth of the Year candidates also spoke about their accomplishments and the impact they believe Boys & Girls Clubs can have on youth nationwide.
Various awards were also given throughout the night, including the Great Futures Start Here award, given to owners Leo Bergin, Pam Peri and David Peri of Nevada Fresh Pak, and the Champion of Youth Award, given to Lyon County School District Superintendent Keith Savage.
As the ceremony came to a close, Valladares was announced as the 2015 Youth of the Year. He walked to the stage as the room stood up, and approached the podium with tears of joy.
“This is such an honor,” Valladares said. “I truly do love this Club.”
Valladares will represent the Club in Carson City at the Governor’s Mansion on February 11 in the state competition.