Who will be the Holy Family Athletes of the Year


Leigh Steiner (far left) Brendan O’Connor (middle) Jacob Zay (far right)

Every year, Holy Family Catholic High School awards a senior boy and girl with “Athlete of the Year” honors at Recognition Day. Last year, this award was won by two spectacular student athletes, Lincoln Cizek and Molly Garin. Both individuals had illustrious careers at Holy Family in multiple sports. Lincoln went on to play Division I Golf at Niagara University, and along with his great golf career at HF, winning state his senior year, he was also a great basketball player who scored 1,000 points throughout his HF career. Molly went on to play Division III hockey at Hamline University and is doing great as she was recently honored as the USCHO.com Rookie of the Year. Along with her hockey career at HF, she was also a phenomenal lacrosse player, tearing up the LAX field with countless goals throughout her HF career.

This year, Holy Family has had another class (Class of 2019) of great athletes. These Senior athletes had impressive Boys Basketball and Girls Soccer seasons, reached a Section Final for Football and Hockey, and qualified for the MSHSL State Tournament in both Boys Soccer and Girls Basketball. Senior led teams all across the board produced a very successful 2019 sports season for Holy Family.

Here are my predictions for who will be awarded 2019 Athlete of Year for Girls and Boys.

Girl recipient: Leigh Steiner

Without a doubt, this is an easy decision. Leigh Steiner is one of the best athletes to walk through the doors of Holy Family. There are many other qualified candidates among the girls in the class of 2019, but no one comes close to the 2-sport STAR Leigh Steiner is. In addition to being the girls Basketball and Lacrosse captain, she was also the team manager for the HF Tennis team this past year. In Basketball, Leigh played Varsity as a freshman all the way through her Senior year. She was a key contributor to HF Girls Basketball’s State Tournament appearances in 2016 and 2019. In this past State Tournament appearance, Leigh was named to the State All-Tournament team and was also named All-State Honorable Mention for her play during the regular season. Leigh was also named All-Conference and Team MVP both her Junior year and Senior year. Throughout her H.S career, Leigh scored 1,193 total points, and after such a stellar Senior year, she was named a finalist for Miss Basketball Minnesota, an award given to the best Girls Basketball player in the state.

After reading all of her accomplishments in Basketball, you will be stunned to hear that she considers Lacrosse her main sport. Next fall, Leigh will be attending Marquette University on a Division I Lacrosse scholarship. While at Holy Family, Leigh was named 1st team All-State her Sophomore year, and Minnesota All-Metro 2nd team as a Junior. She was named team MVP as a Sophomore and Junior, as well as being named Captain for both those years. Leigh unfortunately tore her ACL in her last basketball game in the winter, so she will be unable to add to her illustrious Lacrosse career. She was coming into her senior year with the aspirations to be named Miss Lacrosse Minnesota… she very well could have done it.

With all that being said, I think it is fair to say Leigh Steiner wins this award for the girls by a landslide.

Boys recipient: Brendan O’Connor or Jacob Zay

For the boys, it is not as obvious who will win this award. There are many worthy athletes in the ’19 Class, but, in my opinion, a couple stand out the most, Jacob Zay and Brendan O’Connor. These two athletes share some of the same accomplishments: Both participated in Track as sophomores, both played Varsity Basketball and Varsity Football from their Sophomore year through their Senior year (The exception to Brendan was he was hurt throughout his Junior Football season), and both played pivotal roles in both sports throughout, Jacob Zay as the Quarterback in Football and a key role player in Basketball, and Brendan O’Connor as the starting Tailback in Football and starting point guard in Basketball his Junior and Senior year. Zay and O’Connor were also both honored to be named Captain for both Football and Basketball this past year.

For Football, Brendan was named All-District Honorable Mention his Sophomore year, and as a Senior he was All-District and was named team MVP. He finished with 1,793 total yards which ranks him 13th all time, an impressive feat being that he missed his entire Junior year. For basketball, Brendan was a 3-time winner of the Huscle Player of the Year award, 2-time winner of the Defensive Player of the Year award, and the recipient of the Team Player award as a Senior. All in all, Brendan had a very accomplished Football and Basketball career at Holy Family.

As for Jacob Zay, for basketball his Junior year, he was awarded the Team Player award for his unselfishness and willingness to put the well-being of the team above himself. For football, Jacob Zay was Holy Family’s starting Quarterback from his Sophomore year through his Senior year, similar to 2014-15 Athlete of the Year winner, Hank Hopkins. While Quarterbacking the team as a Junior, Zay was named All-District Honorable Mention, and more impressive, was named team MVP. As a Senior, Zay showed out in a more pass friendly offense and got named All-District, Quarterback of the Year for the District, and for team awards, he walked away with Offensive Player of the Year. To close his Holy Family Career, he is 2nd in total Passing Yards, 2nd in total All-Purpose Yards, and 4th in Rushing Yards (A very impressive feat being that he is a Quarterback).

So after all that, I call a dead-tie between Brendan O’Connor and Jacob Zay. I look forward to seeing who will be awarded Boys Athlete of the year in what is sure to be a very tight race.


Fun Fact- All 3 mentioned predictions attended the same school before H.S, St. Huberts.