The Greater Cleveland Sports Commission Sports Awards, which will be presented for the 20th time on January 22, hold even greater significance this year for the Gilmour Academy community. For the first time in history, the school has two student-athletes - one past, one present - among the nominees for Athlete of the Year.
Lancer girls basketball alumna Naz Hillmon '18 is nominated for Female Collegiate Athlete of the Year, and current boys prep hockey player Tanyon Bajzer '21 is nominated for Male High School Athlete of the Year.
In 2017, Hillmon led the Lancer girls basketball team to its first state championship in the sport, and, in 2018, to its first runner-up honor. She graduated as the program's all-time leader in scoring with 2,057 points and rebounding with 1,607 rebounds. She also holds the single-season record for points scored with 528, as well as the season (435) and game (28) records for rebounding. Last year, she became the first player in Lancer girls basketball history to have her jersey retired. As a senior, she was nominated by the Greater Cleveland Sports Commission for Female High School Athlete of the Year.
Hillmon represented our country as a member of Team USA in the FIBA U18 Americas Women's Championship and the U19 Women's World Cup, winning a gold medal each year. She is currently in her second season as a member of the University of Michigan women's basketball team, where she earned Big Ten Freshman of the Year, Big Ten Sixth Player of the Year, All-Big Ten First Team and Big Ten All-Freshman Team, averaging 13.1 points and 7.0 rebounds per game in 34 games as a freshman.
"This nomination means a ton to me because I know how many amazing players are in and have come from the greater Cleveland area," said Hillmon. "There is an intense competitive nature in this area and to be considered one of the top players among that group and to be one of the few nominated is an amazing honor."
"Having both Tanyon and me nominated in the same year shows how hard Gilmour pushes its student-athletes," said Hillmon. "These two nominations speak volumes for how Gilmour students want to be the best in everything we do, whether in the classroom, on the field or court, and even in other extracurriculars.”
Bajzer is in his first year at Gilmour Academy, after transferring from St. Edward High School, where he attended his freshman and sophomore years. He is a member of Gilmour's prep hockey team, which is the highest level of the school's four boys hockey teams.
In 34 games played so far this season, he has totaled 18 goals, 18 assists and 37 points. He is a plus 14 in the plus/minus stat category and has 22 penalty minutes.
"Tanyon is not only an elite-level athlete, but he is an even better student and display of positive character," said Lancer prep coach and director of hockey Mike Chiellino. "He is well-liked by his peers, and is arguably the best local hockey player for his age."
And being one of the top players in the sport doesn't go unrecognized by Bajzer.
"There are many great athletes in this area and it is an honor to be recognized," said Bajzer. "Hockey is a great sport and often times is not as highly recognized as other sports, so I'm proud to be able to represent all hockey players in our area."
"I believe being one of two athletes from Gilmour Academy being honored shows that our school is a great choice if you are an athlete who wants to pursue an excellent education as well," said Bajzer. "As a hockey player, Gilmour allows me to focus on my academics as well as hockey. There is great support by both teachers and the coaching staff, which helps athletes to succeed each and every day on and off the ice."
As a two-time First Team All-Great Lakes Hockey League (GLHL) selection, Bajzer is excited for what his future holds as a Lancer. "Coming to Gilmour this year has been a true blessing and I am thankful for everything it has given me so far. I am thankful for all that my parents have sacrificed to get me here and I am looking forward to great things to come, not only for myself, but for my friends and teammates at Gilmour Academy."
Award winners will be announced in a ceremony on January 22, 2020 at the Renaissance Cleveland Hotel.
Gilmour girls tennis player Lauren Davis is the other Lancer to receive this honor. She was nominated for and named High School Athlete of the Year in 2008.
Click here for a complete list of 2019 nominees.