Athletes Awarded for PRIDE and Positivity at Spring Top Dog Awards


Helena Hu

Head tennis coach Natasha Schottland awards tennis player and junior Kameran Mody with the top dog award. Mody was chosen because of his overall perseverance, from being defeated during varsity tryouts to being able to compete at Pacific Coast League Finals.

Helena Hu and Ki Joon Lee

Spring varsity coaches and athletes gathered in the Student Union on May 28 to commemorate special players who have consistently demonstrated strive for progress and work ethic during this past season.

Top dog recipients included juniors Mustafa Hassan, Kai Horn, Anthony Lu, Kameran Mody, Bryce Nishikawa and Belal Zahran; sophomores Christina Bernik, Kaelene Siribandan, Madison Vo and Kai Wong and freshman Matthew Kim also received the award. Each coach gave a short speech recognizing the player’s dedication and how he or she contributed to the team, whether it be through athletic accomplishments or boosting team morale.

“My top dog was actually beaten by AJ [Moore] in a challenge match, and when he came to me to plead his case to stay on the varsity team, he said, ‘I know I’m not the strongest player, but I work really hard,’” varsity tennis coach Natasha Schottland said. “I think that encompasses his personality and his commitment to the team, and I truly appreciate Kameran’s commitment and what he’s given to the team.”

My top dog was actually beaten by AJ [Moore] in a challenge match, and when he came to me to plead his case to stay on the varsity team, he said, ‘I know I’m not the strongest player, but I work really hard.’ ”

— Tennis Coach Natasha Schottland

Unlike past ceremonies, this year’s spring top dog event did not include a keynote speaker. Instead, teams were able to have one last bonding experience and to reflect on the past season together. Recipients returned to their respective tables with plaques of recognition in hand and enjoyed congratulating remarks from teammates.

“It was really nice because I was recognized in front of the whole track team, and everyone was cheering,” Bernik said. “Everyone kind of knew that I was gonna get the award, but I didn’t know myself that I [would], so it was really cool to hear my name.”

Although the Top Dog Award has established itself as a tradition in the athletic department since Portola High’s inaugural year, this time around saw very low athlete attendance rate, possibly due to end-of-year commitments, according to athletic director Katie Levensailor. Nevertheless, Levensailor believes that the award still serves a critical purpose in bonding the athletic community.

“Top dog is something that I just love because of what it represents: coaches and athletes are celebrating athletes, which is something that doesn’t happen anywhere else in the district,” Levensailor said. “[Teams] all have banquets, and there’s a lot of award nights, and I get that, but this is different because this is us coming together and celebrating athletes as one big family.”