The 2021 Green 13

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The 2021 Green 13

Green 13 is quickly becoming one of our favorite things we do within Lead ‘Em Up.

In an unprecedented year it was amazing to see so many athletes step up and lead when they were needed most on their teams and in their communities.

With so many incredible young leaders nominated by their coaches, it was hard to narrow down the list to 13 individuals. Once we identified the winners we conducted a little more research to verify their “green” status, and in each case the athlete was 100% GREEN.

Here’s a glimpse into the special day where the athletes were presented with their Green 13 Award!

As part of Green 13 each athlete will be presented a Lead ‘Em Up swag pack with a special Green Team verification check-mark as well as FREE CHICK-FIL-A FOR AN ENTIRE YEAR courtesy of our friends at Chick-Fil-A (Kayla Smith – Owner/Operator CFA – Germantown).

We are proud to present the second annual group of Green 13 Award recipients:

Will Gardner- Walter Johnson High School – Football- Quarterback 

In the most challenging of years, Will Gardner stepped up big time as a leader. Will helped organize a rally which helped athletes regain their football season in Montgomery County, Maryland. Coach Larry Hurd praised Will’s ability to organize and lead team workouts and multi-team 7v7 scrimmages during the Covid-19 pandemic when coaches were not allowed to attend. Due to his ability to lead and positively influence his teammates, Will was named team captain as a Junior. Will carries a 4.59 GPA and is on the SGA Council at Walter Johnson High School. His teammates look up to Will for always being a team first individual and for his outstanding example set as a role model.


Ben Shafer – Harper Creek High School – Football, Basketball & Baseball

Ben is a three sport star at Harper Creek High School where he plays football, basketball and baseball. He has been the Green leader coach Mason Converse desires to see from his players. Ben excels in the classroom as a 4.0 student. He’s very respectful and polite, with a smile and a personality that will light up a room. But it’s the extra work this past year that has really set Ben apart. Each week his team would vote on who the team captain should be (based on who was working the hardest to serve the team) and each week Ben, as a junior, was chosen to be a captain by his teammates. Ben was constantly staying after, or coming before practice to work with guys on the team. He never came to practice alone. He often would make several stops picking up players who needed rides to practice. It didn’t matter the reason…if you needed a ride…Ben would help you out. Because of COVID, the school was short staffed on custodians this year. Ben stayed late each night and recruited a few players to help him make sure the locker room was cleaned and swept so the custodians wouldn’t have as much to clean when they got to the football building. Ben Shafer makes everyone around him better and is no doubt 100% Green.

Kayla Baase – Swan Valley High School – Basketball, Volleyball, Softball

Kayla is described as a true servant leader by her coach, Reyna Luplow. Kayla truly leads by serving others. Whenever anything is asked of her Kayla does it, but even more so she does it without being asked. She is always thinking ahead for her teammates and even her coaches on what needs to be done before it happens. Kayla arrives early, stays late and is always looking out for those around her. She is an energy giver who brings it every single day, even when she doesn’t feel like it. Kayla has demonstrated the ability to communicate with her coaches and teammates on a different level than a normal high school student athlete. Her coaches say everything Kayla does, she invests all her heart into it. She does what she can for the better of the team and never wants credit for herself.


Austin Norris – Westlake High School – Basketball

Austin is described as a great student-athlete who was always in the Green for coach Jeff Huber. Coach Huber sees Austin as having three specific traits which allow him to stand out from the crowd. Austin has a growth mindset shown through his ability to take feedback as a learning tool, and not a threat. Secondly, he has a positive attitude and is always looking to lift his teammates up, even when things are not going well. Thirdly, Austin is constantly going out of his way to help others. He is described as a bridge between players an coaches as his teammates trust him enough to go to him when they need help with something. He led by example and words. He would always seek out teammates to help and coaches for advice. Austin truly lives green on a daily basis and is great recipient for this award.


Jacob Walters – Crocus Plains Regional Secondary School – Football

Coach Rob Dinsdale describes Jacob as a hardworking, positive, and encouraging leader.  Whether in the classroom, weight room, or football field Jacob exemplifies what it means to be both a “Green Follower” and “Green Leader.” His presence influences everyone around him in a positive way. Jacob actively participates in all Lead ‘Em Up sessions and applies these lessons to build the green in everything he does. His hard work, positivity, and encouragement of others are just three of his leadership traits that make him standout. Whether it be in his role as school president or football practice, Jacob brings energy, enthusiasm, and positivity. Jacob is money as an individual and leader through and through. He shows up everyday with a positive attitude, strong work ethic, and desire to build something special. Through his dedication and commitment he inspires those around him to maximize their potential. Jacob is 100% verified green.


Sydney Long – Gibson Southern High School – Basketball & Softball

Simply put, Sydney Long takes everything Lead ‘Em Up teaches and applies it to her own life in the classroom, on the court & on the field. Whether it’s diving on the floor, taking a charge, encouraging her teammates, or achieving success in the classroom, Sydney sets the bar high & does it in a way that others WANT to follow her. Coach Kyle Brasher describes Sydney as someone who is selfless, encouraging, and humble. Sydney demonstrates her selflessness by having zero interest in personal glory. She is just as happy to see her teammates achieve personal success. Sydney gets extremely enthusiastic when her teammates make a big play and encourages that performance with 9-claps. Teammates and coaches agree that Sydney is a humble leader who truly exemplifies what it means to live in the Green. 


Tommy Lais – Worthington High School – Football

Tommy Lais has left a lasting impact on the Worthington Trojan Football program. His coach (and Dad) Geno Lais describes Tommy as an individual who is well liked and respected by his peers and staff at Worthington High School. Tommy is a very hard worker who never complains and always does what is asked of him. He does a great job of encouraging his teammates to push themselves to another level. Tommy’s dedication to football and all that he does is just one of the many traits younger athletes look up to him for. Tommy was a captain his junior and senior season and he always makes time to mentor young players that may be struggling to learn plays, having a difficult time adjusting to high school sports or high school itself. Another quality that separates Tommy from the pack is his commitment to community service. During the peak of Covid-19 shut downs, Tommy delivered meals to shut-in people four days a week using his own vehicle and gas. Tommy lives out what it means to be Green both on and off the field. 


Kent Lais – Worthington High School – Football

In our first ever family affair, Kent Lais joins his brother Tommy in this years Green 13. Described by his coach (and Dad) as a hardworking, committed, and reliable student athlete Kent maximized every opportunity to make an impact on and off the field. Kent never missed a practice or workout, and was a reliable mentor to younger athletes in the Worthington Trojan football program. Kent was the defensive team leader and his strong communication skills ensured everyone was lined up correctly and able to perform to the best of their ability. Kent served as a team captain during his senior season and his willingness to help new team members adjust to high school “life” sets him apart. He often will eat lunch with underclassmen, offer rides, and help them in class all things that make them feel comfortable in high school. Kent is a very active community member. As a freshmen he organized a spring cleanup day that became a school-wide event the next year. As a senior he filled in to deliver food to the elderly during the Covid-19 Pandemic through meals on wheels. Kent is verified Green. 


Hope Johnson – North Muskegon High School – Soccer

Hope Johnson is a passionate individual who radiates Green to everyone who is fortunate enough to work with her. She is a mentor leader for the younger athletes in the North Muskegon Soccer program. Coach Caleb Parnin describes Hope as an incredible student, an impressive athlete, and even better person. She is absolutely treasured by students and staff members of her school. Coach Parnin also stated Hope is ALL IN with every Lead ‘Em Up session and as a result, their team is growing. Hope earned All-State recognition for soccer as a freshman in high school. Although she has achieved at a high level, Hope graciously accepts feedback and is continuously looking for ways to improve. As a senior all-state captain, Hope uses her influence to influence the gray, and flip the red players. Hope Johnson is the perfect teammate and Green leader.


Christian Schwirzbin – Port Washington High School – Basketball

Christian was not only the best player for the Port Washington Vikings, but he is someone who came to practice and games every day ready to work, and with a smile on his face. He is the first one to offer praise to another teammate and the first to offer help when needed. Christian was one of the hardest workers in practice and holds his teammates accountable in a way that they respect. He is constantly trying to pull his teammates into the green and is quick to try and turn around any negativity that he encounters. Christian is a great young man who respects his teammates, coaches, opponents and officials. His Green leadership will be sorely missed in the Port Washington program next year. 


Claudia Porto – Central Catholic High School – Soccer & Basketball

Claudia’s ability to make everyone in the room feel like they are the most important person in the room is one of the many traits that helped her land on this years Green 13 team. Coach Casey Grange applauded the growth Claudia demonstrated from freshmen to senior year. She has not only excelled athletically but also as a team leader. Claudia immediately bought into Lead ‘Em Up and consistently immersed herself into each exercise. She has had many roles in the Central Catholic soccer and basketball programs. Claudia was a role player, a starter, a captain and used every experience to make herself and teammates better. Her performance on the field or the court never affected her leadership and willingness to do what the team needed, when we needed it. She made everyone feel like that person was the best in the room. Claudia left both programs better than she found them and most of it had nothing to do with the goals she scored or the 3s she drained. Claudia shows up green everyday!



Sydney Lenhart – Brandeis University – Soccer 

Freshman Sydney Lenhart quickly made an impression on everyone in the Brandeis University Women’s Soccer program showing up Green from day one. Coach Mary Shimko stated Sydney is one of the greenest people she knows. Sydney is truly invested in her soccer program and has built incredible relationships within it. She supports her teammates in any way possible. Her engagement is off the charts and she has so much positive influence as freshmen in the program. Sydney truly leads her team vocally and helps everyone stay true to the team standards. She is not afraid to recognize her teammates and she encourages those around her when needed. Her coaches could not be more proud to be Sydney’s coach. Sydney is someone who will always ask you how your day is, and truly cares about those in her life. Coach Shimko could not think of a more green human person.


Kelvin Jones – Emmanuel College – Basketball

1st team All-American for Coach TJ Rosene and the Emmanuel College men’s basketball program but arguably a better person and leader. KJ has incredible humility, work ethic and truly cares for his teammates and team. Coach Rosene pointed out the many under the radar things KJ does on a daily basis to help his team stay in the Green. One of the many special things KJ did this past year was helping to create the first ever Black Student Union at Emmanuel College. As racial tensions were at an all time high KJ led not only his team, but also the entire campus in ways to become more aware and make an impact. This is just one of the many things KJ did for his team this past year. KJ shows up Green everyday and consistently works to build the Green on his team and within his school community. 


We are proud of this outstanding group of athletes who are showing up special on their teams and in their communities.

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