Who won the DFJ Athlete of the Year awards? Find out Wednesday, Thursday

The 2013-14 school year produced enough athletic memories to fill the scrapbooks of grandmothers in Webster City, Blairsburg, Jewell and the surrounding communities. There were the highs and the lows. The celebrations and the frustrations. The tears of joy and the tears of sadness.

Hamilton County, it was a fun year.

The end of the softball season last week and the conclusion of the baseball campaign later this week will officially mark the end of the athletic year, and we’re less than a month from going back to the front of the line and doing it all over again with the start of the football, volleyball and cross country seasons.

But before we move forward, we must look back at the past and applaud.

This week, The Daily Freeman-Journal will recognize the two area high school athletes who we feel excelled beyond their contemporaries – even if by a fraction – and honor them with the Athlete of the Year awards, sponsored by Fareway.

The Female Athlete of the Year will appear in Wednesday’s edition. The Male Athlete of the Year will follow on Thursday.

The three-page spread on each of the days will be our way of saying “well done” to the winners, as well as several other athletes who had outstanding years. The winners received a trophy, as well as a personal cartoon drawing of themselves done by Katie Bradley (formerly Katie Niggemeyer), a 2005 graduate of Webster City High School. The outstanding artwork done by Bradley will be featured on the front page of the sports section on Wednesday and Thursday.

A strong list of girls and boys from Webster City, South Hamilton and Northeast Hamilton was put together for consideration for the honors. The Daily Freeman-Journal staff wanted to recognize athletes who shined in a variety of sports, but there are times when you simply can’t ignore an individual who was a standout in one sport. Conversations were had and decisions were made … and we think we’ve got two outstanding winners that encompass the athletic success in this county.

Also featured will be the pool of finalists that fell just short of winning the awards. They might not have gone home with the hardware, but their accomplishments are lengthy as well and we’d be remiss not recognize them in some way.

To the winners (and you now know who you are, but – shh! – don’t tell yet), I offer up my congratulations. I really think that we got this right.