Miracle League of San Diego honors Outstanding Service Award recipients

Four of this year's Outstanding Service Award recipients, Grace Laliotis, Michelle Coad, Trenton Wilson, and Trevor Hagen (left to right) receive their awards from Co-Founder Dan Engel.
Four of this year’s Outstanding Service Award recipients, Grace Laliotis, Michelle Coad, Trenton Wilson, and Trevor Hagen (left to right) receive their awards from Co-Founder Dan Engel.

Each year the Miracle League of San Diego honors high school seniors who have volunteered their time for at least three years. These students stay actively engaged with the Miracle League community, the players, and their families on a regular basis, making a tremendous impact on all who are involved. This year’s recipients were selected on Nov. 16 and are listed below.

Fall 2019 Outstanding Service Award Recipients

Caroline Berg (Astros) – Caroline is a senior at Our Lady of Peace High School. She has volunteered at Miracle League since 8th grade and enjoys being Olivia’s buddy and the Saturday game days. At OLP, she is a cheerleader, a retreat leader and has been on the Principal’s Honor Roll every year. She will be going to college next year, but is not sure where.

Georgia Sims (Astros) - Georgia is a senior graduating from Canyon Crest Academy. She is an active member in CCA Envision Theater Conservatory as well as a valuable member on her Comedy Sportz Improv Team. She is proficient in American Sign Language and is a member of the ASL Honors Society. She is also very involved in both the Girl Scouts and National Charity League where she has volunteered endlessly and where she so happily found Miracle League, by far her most favorite philanthropy. Upon graduation, she plans on attending college somewhere in California and studying creative writing. She is well on her way as she has already published a book called The Protagonist Chapter available now on Amazon. She has loved her years as a buddy for Miracle League and most especially loves her buddy, Rachel. She will miss her very much but plans on attending as many games as she can when she returns home for breaks.

Naomi Ryder (Astros) - Naomi is a senior at Torrey Pines High School and will be graduating this June. She enjoys being with her family and friends, going to the beach, and working out. This year she is the NCL class of 2020 President and has loved getting to work closely with everyone in her class. Miracle League has quickly become her favorite group to work with and she is going to really miss doing it next year. Naomi will be attending The University of Mississippi in the fall and she can’t wait to start this new chapter after high school.

Brendan Chapko (Diamondbacks) - Brendan has been a Miracle League Buddy for six years. What’s most impressive about Brendan is his consistent presence and ability to connect with every member of the Diamondbacks. Brendan has continued to prioritize Miracle League even after the league switched locations. Brendan has stepped up this season taking on more responsibility and assuming head coaching duties for two games this season. Brendan has yet to make a decision on college but wherever he lands will be lucky to have him. His achievments include:

• Standout student from Coronado High School

• Captain of the Academic Team

• Member of the varsity basketball team

• President of the Model United Nations team

Jack Kuffner (Marlins) – A graduating senior, Jack has aspirations to attend UCSD and become a mechanical engineer. He is a 4.0 student who has participated on his high school baseball team, as well as being part of a project to ‘refine’ bio-mechanical arm orthotics with other students.

He has been a wonderful asset to the Marlins team, and Miracle League of San Diego as a whole. Jack is a kind, cooperative, and calming presence for the players on the team, and always says yes when asked to help with something.

Grace Laliotis (Rays) - Grace has been with Miracle League since she was a freshman. She attends Canyon Crest Academy where she belongs to many clubs like the French Honor Society and the Theatre Conservatory and you can always find her in the theatre. She plans on attending college for acting, and minoring in French language and culture.

In Grace’s words “I love how I’ve gotten to bond with Connor since I’ve been with him for three years and I love seeing him giggle when I run backwards in front of him while we run the bases. I learned so much from Miracle League, it’s hard to begin to describe it. I’ve learned how powerful and impactful it can be to support and love anyone and everyone. The love and the community of our team has shown me how happy it makes the children, and how important it is to treat everyone equally and to love and support anyone and everyone. I love how excited the kids get and I’ve learned just how much volunteering can impact others, and I will forever strive to be as happy and loving as the children on this team.”

Grace can bring out a smile in anyone around her. She and Connor have developed a fun friendship where they talk baseball stats and whiz around the bases. She fills in where ever the coaches need her now that Connor doesn’t play in the fall and easily conforms to whatever the situation needs.

Michelle Coad (Rays) - Michelle was introduced to Miracle League thru National Charity League back in 7th grade. Michelle has also been extremely important to Miracle League operations as an intern during high school. She is currently a senior at La Jolla Country Day School and enjoys studying chemisty and history and is in the Honors Choir and Honors Orchestra where she plays the violin. She is looking at colleges out of state and is hoping to find a path working in research for those with special needs.

Michelle has two favorite memories. One was of Will, who was mostly nonverbal, coming to the first game of the fall season and saying her name for the first time and giving her a big hug. Her other is when Bobby bat on his own without the T for the very first time and seeing how big his smile became and the independence he has shown since.

Michelle has realized that no matter how her week has been, coming to Miracle League and being with her team (the best) or with all the people she has contact with being an intern, it has challenged her to see the world thru a different lens. She loves to see the smiles and interactions of everyone on and off the field.

Ryan Grozen (Rays) - Ryan, who started with Miracle League in 2014, is also a senior at Canyon Crest Academy where he likes to study Spanish. He is busy applying to colleges. n his downtime, Ryan became an Eagle Scout and spends his time with the rest of his Boy Scout troop.

Ryan’s best memories are the friends he has made and the fun conversations with the players and their families. He says that Miracle League taught him understanding and acceptance of people with all sorts of different challenges.

Ryan always has a smile on his face, especially when he is hanging with his buddy Andrew. They can be seen hanging out in the outfield, playing ball and having quiet conversations. He has been an amazing buddy to Andrew.

Trenton Wilson (Rays) - Trenton is a swim team member and waterpolo playing senior at San Dieguito Academy when he isn’t here being a buddy and intern. His favorite class? Physics. He is hoping to go to Embry Riddle Aeronautical University and get a degree in global security and intelligence.

He has been with Miracle League since 5th grade and one of his favorite memories is when they got the entire Rays team to play Duck, Duck Goose on the field – no balls were fielded in that half of the game. Trenton has also made an impact as one of the Miracle League interns for multiple years, assisting with weekly operations and special events.

Trenton said that Miracle League has taught him how to talk and work with many different kinds of people with different pasts and futures. Trenton’s relationship with Curran has evolved from Buddy, to friend, to brother. You can see his heart when he is with Curran.

Trevor Hagen (Rays) - Trevor has been a buddy with Miracle League since 2011. He is a senior at La Costa Canyon where he plays football and rugby and his favorite class is English. He is applying right now to go to college, most likely out of state. Something you might not know is that he likes to play guitar.

Some of Trevor’s favorite times with the Rays has been running around the outfield with Trevor #2 and helping Chris be baseball ready. He says he has met the happiest people ever here at Miracle League and it just reminds him to never take life for granted and to not take everything so serious.

Trevor is definitely a buddy who quickly adjusts to fit in wherever he is asked to. He takes the time to get to know whomever he is working with and the kids around him.

Jacob McKanry (White Sox) – Jacob has been involved with Miracle League since 7th grade. He will be a graduate of Coronado High School in 2020. He has played football all four years, and during his junior year was selected as MVP and 1st team all-conference on defense. While at CHS, Jacob has participated in school plays and been involved with performing arts since he was 5 years old.

For college, Jacob is considering the University of Hawaii, Chapman University, and Santa Barbara City College. He may continue his acting and football at the college level. After college, Jacob plans to pursue a career in real estate sales, development, and investing. Jacob loves being a part of Miracle League and hopes to continue in the future.