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South Portland Red Riots Fall Athletes of the Year

Sports

South Portland Red Riots Fall Athletes of the Year

MALE:

DAMJAN DRASKOVIC, Senior-Soccer

  • Western A all-regional team

A feared goal scorer took one for the team this fall and wound up with more assists than anyone in the conference. Draskovic's selflessness helped the Red Riots produce another strong season.

Draskovic is originally from Bosnia. He came to the United States at a young age and has long been a special force on the pitch. He became a starter as a freshman and this fall moved from striker to center-attacking mid. He and his teammates had many memorable moments.

Draskovic had a goal in a season-opening tie against eventual champion Scarborough, delivered a whopping five assists versus Massabesic, three more against Westbrook and set up the winner against Deering. He also had goals in ties versus Kennebunk and Cheverus and a goal and an assist versus Sanford. For the season, Draskovic had five goals and set the bar in the conference with 13 assists.

Draskovic, who considers the international star Ronaldo an inspiration, also plays with the Phoenix premier team. He wants to play in college and plans to study computer science.

We haven't heard the last of this standout, who has shown he can do whatever it takes to help his team win. Damjan Draskovic, South Portland's Fall Male Athlete of the Year, is a natural who is only getting better.

Coach Bryan Hoy's comment: “Damjan was a huge part of our success this year. Because of his talent on the offensive side of the game, we were able to stack our defense with a lot of strong players. Without Damjan, some of our defenders would have had to assume more offensive roles. With him, we were able to keep our defense strong and allow Damjan to handle things offensively. We've hardly ever relied on a lineup that employs a center-attacking mid, but with Damjan's skill, speed, and ability to distribute, it just made sense to create for him such a role. This actually slowed down Damjan's scoring a bit, but enabled him to be more of a playmaker than a finisher. His passion for the game of soccer is something I wish all my players had. It was such a pleasure to coach a young man who loved playing the sport as much as Damjan does.”

Prior winners:

2011: Logan Gaddar (Football)

2010: Nem Kaurin (Soccer)

2009: Ryan Curit (Football)

2008: Ryan Chapin (Soccer)

2007: Nick Gaddar (Football)

2006: David Knowland (Cross country)

2005: Endy Carrera (Soccer)

2004: Nolan Moon (Cross country)

2003: Eric Giddings (Cross country)

2002: Eric Giddings (Cross country)

2001: Devin Shaw (Cross country)

FEMALE:

NYAJOCK PAN, Senior—Cross country

  • All-state

  • SMAA all-star, first-team

  • SMAA Runner of the Year

Long one of the state's best runners, Pan found her way to the top of Class A this fall and earned another Athlete of the Year recognition (to go with honors she got last fall and winter).

Pan came to South Portland from Portland in the seventh grade and following the encouragement of her friends, started running in the eighth grade. Everyone involved with the Red Riots is glad she did. Pan finished 14th at the Class A state meet as a freshman and was in the top 10 as a sophomore and junior. This fall was even better.

Pan came in first in the season's first meet, setting the tone. She won the next two meets as well, placed ninth at the Festival of Champions and was second to Cheverus' Shannon Conley in the regular season-ending City Meet. At regionals, Pan took the top spot and at states, she was second to Lawrence's Erzsebet Nagy, who ran as an individual, meaning Pan was first for scoring purposes. Pan finished her year at the New England championships, where she came in 73rd, at a meet she described as, “too cold.”

“I was happy with my season,” said Pan. “I want to win something in the winter or spring.”

She'll have her chance running distance both indoors and out.

Pan also mentors middle school students, works on the yearbook and is a member of South Portland's French Club. She runs every day and wants to compete in college, while studying nursing.

For someone who came late to the sport, she's certainly found her niche. At the head of the pack. Nyajock Pan, South Portland's Fall Female Athlete of the Year, will be missed by the Red Riots, but we haven't heard the last of her excellence.

Coach Karen Reardon's comment: "Nyajock had a great season as a senior. The record speaks for itself. She really raced well and I think moved forward to a new level. At one point in October, she said to me that she wanted to win something before she graduated and we talked about the fact that the regional and state meet were really up for grabs this year. We felt that she was one of four or five girls who had a legitimate shot at winning and that she needed to be smart about the way that she approached the race for the regional. When she won the regional, that really boosted her confidence for the next week and she was racing for the win. I was very proud of her efforts and competitiveness on both occasions. She is one of our strong leaders. She puts herself out there to compete and sets the standard for the rest of the girls as well. Nyajock is a real pleasure to work with. She is there every day, gives her best each day and is highly thought of by her peers."

Prior winners:

2011: Nyajock Pan (Cross country)

2010: Rebecca Roberts (Field hockey)

2009; Karleigh Bradbury (Soccer)

2008: Annelise Donahue (Cross country)

2007: Annelise Donahue (Cross country)

2006: Kristina Aceto (Field hockey)

2005: Emily Haeuser (Cross country)

2004: Courtney Albin (Soccer)

2003: Christina Aceto (Soccer)

2002: Andrea Giddings (Cross country)

2001: Andrea Giddings (Cross country)