Bangor, Maine (March 7, 2014) – The Maine McDonald’s Spirit of the Game Award was presented to Connor Kane of Dirigo H.S. and Zachary Gilpin of Hampden Academy at the Maine McDonald’s All-Star Games Awards Banquet on March 7, 2014, in Bangor. The recipients each received a trophy and a $500 Spirit Scholarship to assist with their higher education needs.
Since 2009, the annual Spirit of the Game Award has honored two high school seniors who embody the spirit of the sport of basketball, exemplify sportsmanship, and support and inspire their teammates and coaching staff.
West Division recipient Connor Kane is a Senior at Dirigo High School who has overcome the challenges of autism in part through his love of basketball. Though he has not been able to play basketball in high school, he has found ways to enjoy the game and participate and contribute to it.
As a child, Connor played in youth leagues and shot baskets at the gym as his father, Gavin Kane, coached. In high school, he joined his father on the bench as a manager/assistant coach at Spruce Mountain High School. Connor assisted his father and contributed to the team in any way he could. He enjoyed being part of the team and the girls on the team loved having Connor there with them. He embraced his role and, in return, the team and the community embraced him as well.
Connor’s dedication and commitment go far beyond the sport. Connor is an honor roll student at Dirigo High School and has been recognized with numerous Classroom Awards for his studious efforts.
According to the person who nominated him for the Spirit of the Game award, “Connor is an amazing young man and it has been my privilege to not only watch him grow up but also get to know him as a wonderful, polite, intelligent young man. He is an inspiration and a wonderful example of the great spirit that young people have for the game of basketball.”
East Division recipient Zachary Gilpin is a 4-year Varsity Basketball player, a 1,000-point scorer, a KVAC Player of the Year, an All Maine First Team Captain and more. In spite of all his successes, Zachary remains a thoughtful, considerate and humble person who has learned to overcome obstacles at an early age.
When Zach was a sophomore, is father passed away tragically. Due to stress and devastation, Zach had to be tutored at home. When he was able to return to school, he received his classes via a TV monitor.
Through it all, basketball was his outlet for his loss. He went on to lead his team to two undefeated seasons, a State Championship in 2013 and Division Championship in 2014. But Zach remains humble and does not feel the need to be in the spotlight. On Senior Night he gave up his starting position to a teammate, in spite of the fact he was close to hitting his 1,000-point goal. After clinching the Division Championship, he insisted that a teammate be the first to hoist the trophy. For Zachary it has been more important to see his teammates have their moment in front of family and fans.
Zach has inspired his teammates, his community and basketball fans statewide and is an outstanding example of how sports can help overcome challenges.
The 2009 Spirit of the Game Award recipients Josh Titus and Patrick Thibodeau assisted in presenting the awards which are named in their honor. The East Division Award is the Joshua Titus Spirit of the Game Award and the West Division Award is the Patrick Thibodeau Spirit of the Game Award.
Titus and Thibodeau were Maine high school varsity basketball team managers who made headlines when their coaches put them in to play in the last home game of the season. They made national news as the subject of a CBS Sports documentary broadcast during the NCAA Final Four® pre-game show.
The 2014 All-Star Games marks McDonald’s 26th consecutive year as lead sponsor of this event.
Net proceeds from the Games benefit Ronald McDonald House Charities® (RMHC®) of Maine. Last year’s All-Star Weekend raised more than $26,500 for the Charities. RMHC of Maine is a non-profit organization whose goal is to help Maine children and families lead happier, healthier and more productive lives. Since its founding in 1989, RMHC of Maine has granted more than $2 million to local children’s programs that make a measurable impact in our communities. More information is available at www.rmhcmaine.org.
In addition to underwriting the cost of planning and executing the event, the Maine McDonald’s Owner/Operator Association, a collaboration of 16 local Maine McDonald’s franchisees, works hand-in-hand with the Maine Association of Basketball Coaches and these major sponsors to make the event possible: Dr Pepper, Maine Athletic Fundraising, H.O. Bouchard Inc. Transportation, Hannaford, Hancock Lumber, McCain Foods, WLBZ-2, Bangor and WCSH-6, Portland. In-kind sponsors include Coastal T-Shirts, Coca-Cola, Dr Pepper, Hershey’s, Holiday Inn Bangor, Sign Shack of Maine and Bronson Audio/Visual.