As the people at NYSPHSAA and other sporting institutions around the world have realized in the past month, some decisions are just plain difficult.

This winter, those of us in The Daily Star’s newsroom who choose player and coach awards learned the same lesson - with the obvious difference being that instead of several bad options, we suffered from having too many good ones.

We feel secure in our selection of Graham Wooden as our player of the year, and how could we not? His stellar play, resilience and leadership on a team that faced an uphill climb all season is plenty of evidence.

Still, there are more than a few names that are perhaps equally deserving.

Few, if any, players in the state garnered pregame preparation from other teams like Cooperstown’s John Kennedy. Edmeston’s Josh Martin put up big numbers all season for a talented Edmeston team, and was once appropriately labeled as simply “smooooth” by one area coach.

Pick a name from South Kortright’s starting five, and you could probably make a case for that player.

Statistically, the best season in the area may have come from Walton’s Dylan Jacob. Or maybe Jefferson’s Cole Lapinel. But what about SK’s Logan Kaufman?

Oh, and the Delhi boys had a stellar season with junior Alex Haight leading the way.

When we started narrowing down the field, we discussed even more names than those mentioned above - these are just the names that spring to mind. And overall, what a wealth of options it is! You can read about all of them in this section.

The same goes for the area’s coaches. For his job putting together a largely inexperienced roster at Cooperstown and nearly repeating as Section III Class C champions, the Hawkeyes’ John Lambert is an easy choice.

Until, of course, you begin to think about others that were deserving. Unatego’s Travis Woods helped the Spartans show dramatic improvement, and Oneonta’s Jerry Mackey led the Yellowjackets past several obstacles during the 2019-20 campaign. Meanwhile, South Kortright’s Aaron Kaufman led the Rams to a spectacular season that ended in the Section IV Class D final.

Delhi’s Warren Kelly also deserves acknowledgement, as does Edmeston’s Darren Belden and Richfield Springs’ Nate Rittenburg. But we can’t forget - you know what, nevermind.

The point is, the sports world and the wider world seem to have little worth celebrating recently. And with so many candidates of note, it only made sense to at least try to acknowledge all of the players and coaches we have to celebrate and the accomplishments they compiled this winter.

So we at The Daily Star wanted to give thanks to the players for playing, the coaches for coaching and the fans for following along. While this March will likely be remembered for what happened outside of the lines, let’s use all the memories from earlier in the winter to carry us through until sports return to the fields and courts.

We’ll be back next week with the girls basketball all-area team. And it’s safe to say those decisions weren’t any easier.

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