Four members of Western Reserve Academy's soccer programs have received prestigious awards following two of the most successful seasons in school history.
Seniors Nicky Waldeck and Hudson resident Fede Silva have been named high school All-Americans by the National Soccer Coaches Association. WRA is just one of four schools nationwide -- and the only one in Ohio -- to have a player from both their girls' and boys' teams selected for the honor.
Girls coach Joe DiBiase and boys coach Herb Haller also earned postseason honors.
DiBiase was named the Tri-County League Coach of the Year and the Ohio Private/Parochial School Coach of the Year (the second year in a row for that honor), while Haller was named Coach of the Year by the Greater Akron Scholastic Soccer Coaches Association for the second consecutive year.
The national recognition for Waldeck and Silva comes on the heels of each of them being selected for a Gold Medal, WRA's highest athletic honor, following their senior seasons.
As one of the team's co-captains, Waldeck helped lead the Pioneers to a 15-1-1 record -- the best finish in the program's history -- and a No. 3 ranking in Ohio in Division III. During her WRA career, Waldeck scored a team-record 111 goals, easily outpacing the 63 goals scored by the previous record holder, 2009 WRA graduate Anne Song.
"Nicky scored 12 goals in her freshman year, after which I told her that she would easily break Anne's record of 63 career goals," DiBiase said. "She was skeptical. Ending with 111 career goals, she makes an awfully good case for being simply the best player this program has ever seen.
"She is, hands down, the best athlete and like Anne and Kelsey [McCallops], she never gets outworked in a practice or a game. Through determination and hard work, Nicky brought her game to a new level each year.
"While Nicky always gave 100 percent, her 100 percent is now in a different class."
Silva helped lead the Pioneers to a 19-0-2 record -- only the third undefeated season in school history -- and the No. 1 ranking in Ohio in Division III. During his four-year career at WRA, Silva scored 45 goals and added 24 assists as the Pioneers posted a record of 49-7-4 over the past three years.
"It is clear to anyone who has watched us play during his career that Fede has been instrumental in our success," Haller said. "He plays with flare and an ease that is a joy to watch and coach. Technically, Fede is exceptional. He is quick and deceptive and his vision is quite good. He plays the game the way it should be played and loves doing it."
DiBiase, who notched his 100th win at WRA and 200th career win, and Haller both said the coaching awards are a reflection of their team's on-field success.
"That was a tribute to how we played this year," DiBiase said. "We have a group of coaches in the Tri-County League that enjoy working with each other and it is an honor because it reflects how the schools that are closest to us feel about playing us.
"With some great private and parochial schools in the area, it is a real honor to have your colleagues affirm what you do. But it all comes back to how our team presents itself on the field. When the other coaches talk about how they like the way we play -- even if they lose -- it is quite a tribute.
"Anytime one receives a COY award, it usually is a reflection of your team and the team's success," Haller said. "The boys bought into who we wanted to be and how we wanted to play. When a group does that, then the limits are endless. The best part of this year was that we were good, but more importantly, the players are good people.
"I was honored to coach them this year."