High-school student athletes representing 29 different boys’ and girls’ sports were honored on the field before the Minnesota Twins vs. Boston Red Sox game at Target Field June 19 by Positive Athlete Minnesota, an organization started by former Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Hines Ward.

One of those athletes was Redwood Valley’s own Deon Estebo who was recognized for his participation and success in boys cross country for the Cards.

Two coaches were also recognized as most positive, and two student-athletes were presented with $2,500 college scholarships from Delta Air Lines. Hundreds of nominations from coaches, principals, athletic directors, teachers and parents were submitted by more than 100 Minnesota high schools.

In addition to the Delta scholarships, and on-field ceremony with the Twins, the Minnesota Vikings also gave the winners a behind-the-scenes tour of the TCO Performance Center. All of the 2018-19 nominees were treated to a pair Minnesota Twins tickets.

In addition to excellence on the field, each participating Positive Athlete shares similar characteristics including an optimistic attitude, teammate encouragement, servant leadership, heart for others, ability to admit imperfections, giving 100 percent all the time and realizing the team as more important than the individual.

“In the second year of this Minnesota program, the stories and number of the nominees blew me away,” said Ward. “I was always credited with having a positive influence on my team during my days with the Steelers, but the stories I hear about these kids really inspire me to be a better person.”

What follows is a list of this year’s winners:

• Football - Luke Bonte St. Francis

• Volleyball - Kali Wolf Waconia

• Softball - Emma Botker Clinton Graceville Beardsley

• Boys Cross Country - Deon Estebo Redwood Valley

• Girls Cross Country - Olivia Flack Lake Crystal

• Cheerleading - Annie Frank Northfield

• Boys Basketball - Justin Holmes Mountain Iron Buhl

• Girls Basketball Alexandra Larson - Pine Island

• Wrestling Anthony Maher - BOLD

• Boys Swimming - Grant Wambold Eagan

• Girls Swimming - Kallee Swenson Mora

• Gymnastics - Cambryn Rubin Triton

• Boys Soccer - Isaiah Coleman Maranatha Christian Academy

• Girls Soccer - Lily Fabienke Maranatha Christian Academy

• Boys Lacrosse - Luke Peterson Farmington

• Girls Lacrosse - Jessica Skelley Mound Westonka

• Boys Tennis - Zach Muetzel Cretin-Derham Hall

• Girls Tennis - Perrin Thompson Buffalo

• Boys Track - Myles Johnson Lincoln Thief River Falls

• Girls Track - Rachel Black Minnesota Valley Lutheran

• Boys Golf - Gordon Skaar Greenway

• Girls Golf - Ashton Hobza St. Michael-Albertville

• Baseball - Cooper Severson Fridley

• Boys Skiing - Andrew Deppe Virginia

• Girls Skiing - Madeline Keran Coon Rapids

• Boys Hockey - Andrew Dondelinger Bemidji

• Girls Hockey - Chantrelle Thayer Brainerd

• Alternative - Brenna Mahoney Frazee

• Adaptive - Chris Axelson East Grand Forks

• Boys Coach - Gregg Preston Hillcrest Lutheran Academy

• Girls Coach - Sarah Sinniger Brooklyn Center

“We did not put out a search for the best athletes in Minnesota,” said Ward. “We put out a search for kids with positive attitudes whose efforts don’t necessarily show up on the stat sheets. These kids were recognized for overcoming difficult circumstances or giving back to their schools and communities in a significant way."

Positive Athlete Minnesota, a subsidiary of parent company Celebrate Positive, LLC, is a group of high-character professional athletes who have teamed up to promote the benefits of positivity to young athletes around the world. Positive Athlete has awarded more than $250,000 in college scholarships and grants since its inception eight years ago.

The Minnesota program mirrors successful programs in Georgia, Western Pennsylvania, New York and Michigan.

Learn more at positiveathlete.org.

– Submitted photo