2009 Spring Male Athlete of the Year:
ROB HIGHLAND, Senior-Lacrosse
* WMC All-Conference first team, midfield
* WMC All-Academic team
* Senior All-Star
As the Yarmouth boys’ lacrosse program morphed into the best in the state over the past five years, it has produced countless standouts.
The 2009 team, which went undefeated and won a repeat Class B title for the first time, was no exception with several key players making their mark.
One not only had a lightning-fast shot and a tenacity that was unmatched, but he also showed an abundance of heart and displayed an inclusive sensibility that’s uncommon even in much older athletes.
Rob Highland was able to come all the way back from a gruesome knee injury to be one of the top scoring threats in the state. His will to win helped the Clippers enjoy just the second perfect season in their history.
In light of how good he was and how he made all those around him better, Rob Highland is The Forecaster’s choice for Yarmouth’s 2009 Spring Male Athlete of the Year.
Highland was born in Massachusetts and came to Yarmouth in the fourth grade. He started playing lacrosse in the seventh grade, but almost had his playing career ended as a sophomore during a preseason tournament when he suffered a knee injury that was so severe that his doctor wasn’t sure if he would ever walk again normally, not to mention run.
As it turned out, after using his junior year to get back in form, Highland was able to walk and run, and as a senior, dominate on the lacrosse field.
Highland started dangerous and just got hotter. He scored four goals in a season-opening victory over Cape Elizabeth, had three more the next game versus Greely, scored four versus Freeport and had four against Kennebunk. In the “Game of the Year,” May 18 at home versus Portland, Highland had two goals in an 11-9 victory. He added three more against Thornton Academy and closed the regular season with a five-goal outburst against Falmouth.
For the season, Highland scored 46 goals. He also grabbed 48 ground balls.
The playoffs were more of the same, Highland had three goals and four assists in a regional final victory against NYA, then came up big in the title game win over Cape Elizabeth with three more goals.
Along the way, his rocket shot proved to be too much for even the bravest and most seasoned goalie to contend with and his tenacity with or without the ball set a tone for his teammates to dominate virtually from start to finish.
Highland, who also played soccer and basketball in high school, will go to Bates College in the fall. He’s undecided on a major, but will definitely play lacrosse.
He won’t just play. Look for Rob Highland, Yarmouth’s 2009 Spring Male Athlete of the Year, to do what he’s always done: Overcome any obstacle and excel.
Coach Craig Curry’s comment: “I didn’t think Rob would come all the way back from an injured knee, but he came back all the way and became a great player. He jelled in every way this year. Athletically, he was a house. He’s a quiet leader, but he was so inclusive with everyone on the team. He loves the game.”
2008 winner: Robb Arndt (Baseball)
2007 winner: Jon Poole (Lacrosse)
2006 winner: Hans Tobiason (Lacrosse)
2005 winner: Chris Hichborn (Lacrosse)
2004 winner: Jon Miller (Lacrosse)
2003 winner: Jared Harriman (Lacrosse)
2002 winner: Tim Kjeldgaard (Lacrosse)
2009 Spring Female Athlete of the Year:
HALEY KNAUB, Senior-Track
* Class B state champion, javelin
* State record holder, javelin
* Western Maine Conference All-Star, first team
Considering that Haley Knaub never threw a javelin prior to her junior season, it’s pretty remarkable what she accomplished this spring.
Knaub consistently dominated in her event during the regular year, then truly starred in the postseason, placing first at the conference championship meet, then setting a new state mark at states.
Simply put, in a little over a year, Knaub went from novice to nonpareil.
For proving that it’s never to late to shine, for devoting herself to her event and being so, so good on the biggest stage, Haley Knaub gets The Forecaster’s nod as Yarmouth’s 2009 Spring Female Athlete of the Year.
Knaub grew up in Yarmouth with soccer as her biggest love. She played four years of soccer and basketball in high school and also spent her freshman and sophomore seasons on the softball diamond.
Then, everything changed her junior year when she gave track a try. Working with throwing coach Adam Smith, Knaub compounded her natural ability with a desire to be the best. She threw 113 feet that season, came in fourth at the state meet and after working on improving her muscle tone at the YMCA in the offseason, entered 2009 confident and ready to turn heads.
At the first meet this spring, Knaub threw 117 feet without practice and the fun had begun. In the second meet, Knaub was up to 123 feet-plus and was gearing up for what would be a memorable postseason.
She scored 10 of her team’s 11 points at the WMC meet with a top throw of 122 feet. Then, she made history, eclipsing former Greely standout Becky O’Brien with her record-setting 126 foot, 4 inch throw at the state meet, where she scored all of her team’s points.
If that wasn’t enough, she then threw 128 feet at New Englands, coming in eighth.
Knaub plans to complete a post-graduate year, then wants to compete in track in college, where she also hopes to play soccer.
It will be fascinating to see just how much farther she can throw in the future. Haley Knaub, Yarmouth’s 2009 Spring Female Athlete of the Year, made for a great story and there are several exciting chapters remaining.
Coach Bob Morse’s comment: “Haley wanted to give the javelin a try her junior year and really liked it. That was the beginning. She just continued to improve. She was always there for practice. She has a great personality. She’s a great kid. I wish she’d come out as a freshman.”
2008 winner: Nicole Grover (Lacrosse)
2007 winner: Laurie Baker (Lacrosse)
2006 winner: Emily Johnson (Lacrosse)
2005 winner: Chrissie Attura (Lacrosse)
2004 winner: Louise Taylor (Tennis)
2003 winner: Louise Taylor (Tennis)
2002 winner: Christine Clancy (Tennis)
As usual, selecting the top male and female spring athletes from each school was a challenge, more so in some cases than in others. While coaches and athletic directors were consulted, the ultimate decision was mine, based on seeing all or part of 91 sporting events since mid-April. The following athletes weren’t always the most prolific performers or even necessarily in the spotlight, but I feel that each of them helped elevate their respective teams to greatness.
Congratulations to all of the winners!