MISSOULA — On the fourth day of the KPAX Sports Awards, we highlight the two finalists from Hellgate High School in Avery Maxwell and Beckett Arthur.
Maxwell is a do-all senior for the Knights, having been involved as a three-sport athlete in soccer, swimming and track and field.
She's also a 4.0 student, the student body president, and a violinist, so quite the full schedule in high school.
She'll swim at Middlebury College in Vermont after this year, and feels like all of her extracurriculars set her up well for the future.
"I’m just thankful to all of my coaches and all of my teammates for putting me in a position where I’m able to go out of state and able to go compete at a higher level," Maxwell said. "I think it sets me up very well for what I’m able to do outside of high school. Just getting used to being busy and it’s really just if you love something that you’re doing you’re going to find time for it and that’s kind of what happened with me."
Arthur was a standout on the soccer pitch and basketball court for the Knights.
A four-year varsity player at Hellgate, Arthur saw the Knights win three state Class AA soccer titles and the co-basketball championship in 2020 along with an undefeated season.
Like Maxwell, he'll have a future in college athletics outside of Montana as well, as Arthur will play college soccer at Whitworth University over in Spokane, Washington. And without his coaches throughout his time at Hellgate, Arthur said the success he experienced wouldn't be possible.
"So growing up my mom has kinda raised me so there hasn’t really been that kind of guy in my life and I think the coaches that I’ve had, like I’ve been so blessed to have such amazing coaches like Jay Anderson, my soccer coach, and (basketball coach Jeff) Hays," Arthur said. "Two just phenomenal people, coaches and great guys that I get to learn from whether it’s through sports or just kind of being a guy and a man. I’ve just been so amazingly blessed for that."
On Tuesday we'll highlight the finalists from Sentinel High School and the winners will be announced on Wednesday. To read the essays submitted by Maxwell and Arthur, read below.
To date I have been tempted by nearly every athletic endeavor proposed. I tried ballet, swimming, ski racing, soccer, volleyball, basketball, cross country, horseback riding, and even skateboarding! I found my true passion was for soccer and swimming. Two very different sports on the surface, but that have both contributed to my understanding of obligation (on a team and individual level), hard work and time management.
Soccer in particular requires a commitment, in my case to defend a section of the field and help my teammates defend theirs, sometimes relying on my teammates to help cover me when I make a mistake. There is great value in accountability and its role in success. You either win as a team or you lose as a team. I’ve been both captain and player, and I recognize the requirements and roles required to each. Despite a season ending injury, I have worked tirelessly to return to the pitch and make meaningful contributions to our team.
Swimming rewards discipline, quickly teaching one the value of self reliance and hard work. It takes a disproportionate amount of time per gain, which has taught me patience and persistence. The required time commitment competes directly with time that I have for extracurricular activities and my studies. Because of this, I have learned effective time management skills that have been invaluable. I have been able to be effective in school, athletics, extracurricular activities and allowed time for important friendships and my family.
Sports have also provided me with confidence. This year I’ve decided to run the 400 in track, a sport I have not participated in previously. It’s a bit risky, but I believe I am up for the challenge and hope I can contribute to the success of Hellgate track.
These skills; discipline, determination, time management and prioritization have also allowed me to excel in school academically. They have led to valued and reliable friendships with teammates and peers as well as with other competitors and reminds me of the value of my supportive family and school. Success at high school swimming has prepared me to continue on as a swimmer at an elite division three college beginning this fall.
I cannot imagine nor would I recommend a high school career without sports.
I grew up playing sports - soccer, basketball, gymnastics and parkour were on the top of my list. In fact, my original goal was to become a professional soccer player. However, through the years, sports became about building lasting friendships, learning leadership skills, and understanding the importance of teamwork. I had no idea how this would intensify with my participation in high school sports.
During the four years I played soccer and basketball at Hellgate, my teammates and coaches became such an important and influential part of my life. Because I spent every day with them, on and off the court or field, my friends became my family. We did life together and the bonds that we built were rock solid. Playing sports helped me grow stronger and more skilled, while hanging with my closest friends. To be completely honest, the best parts of high school sports were the bus rides, team dinners, retreats, and just the joy that came with “hanging with my boys.”
Being raised by my mom, I did not have many male role models in my life. But over these four years at Hellgate, Coaches Anderson, Nuttall, Procacci, and Hays have really made an impact on me. I look up to each of them with respect and admiration, but also with friendship. They have dedicated so much time to coaching me, but have also shown me what it means to be a man of character. They have all taught me to be strong, honorable, responsible, hard working and committed to something bigger than myself.
With sports, comes injuries and therefore, I have spent a lot of time with Hellgate’s athletic trainer, Paul Capp. He has inspired my passion for this field, as he is always there to help when I need it, from taping up my ankle to helping me roll out and stretch. Like my coaches, he always makes time for me, is encouraging and understands how important being able to play in every practice and game is for athletes. I want to be that kind of person for other athletes - to really make a difference in their lives.
High school sports have also enabled me to give back. Being a coach/counselor at Missoula Strikers, Hays Hoop and summer church camps, I discovered that I love inspiring kids to play sports so it will impact them in positive ways.
Because of the incredible experiences I have had playing sports for Hellgate, I have committed to studying athletic training and playing soccer at Whitworth. I want to stay involved with sports and be able to help other athletes like I have been helped through the years. Of course, I am most looking forward to hanging with the guys on my team and the incredible coaches. Studying at Whitworth will give me a gateway to helping people on many levels. I could honestly see myself back in Missoula, helping high school kids recover from injuries, navigate life and ideally, inspiring them to give back to their communities