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Commentary: Rock the nomination ... not the vote

A few weeks ago, SVM news editor Kathleen Schultz told my wife, Kayla, that it was nice to have another “word nerd” in the office.

Nerd. That word gets a bad rap, although those affable poindexters from “The Big Bang Theory” are spearheading a nice comeback. Or so I’m told.

Fact is, “word nerd” is a term of endearment in the Heimerman household. And those of you who enjoy reading the paper, but don’t toss and turn at night wondering about the difference between “may” and “might,” need us.

While on the desk Friday night, I was repeatedly reminded of my opportunity – nay, duty – as a linguistics aficionado to clear up the difference between “nomination” and “vote.”

As most of you know, we accept – downright encourage, actually – nominations for our athletes of the week. Whether via email, fax, tweet, phone call or carrier pigeon, we’re all ears and eyes as to who you think should be honored in each Tuesday section.

I need both hands to count the number of AOWs we’ve featured in my year and a half that we otherwise might have missed.

As for Friday night, I received 16 phone calls nominating Dixon senior soccer player Caitlin Hawkins – eight of them for athlete of the week, four for player of the month and two for sporter of the year. The other two didn’t seem to have any idea what they were nominating Caitlin for.

It began with a call from Caitlin’s dad. I gleaned that Caitlin is dedicated, passionate, and soon will be committing to play soccer at Eureka College. Sounds like she works her tail off. We’ll get to intangibles and criteria, albeit briefly, later.

I admitted I didn’t have the Duchesses’ kickers’ recaps on the tip of my brain and asked him how she’d contributed to their games. Any goals? Assists? The answer was no, but that she’s a defender, and players at that position don’t generate many stats.

Later that night, defender Shelby Cruse would score Dixon’s game-winning goal. But quantifying performance is neither here nor there. I don’t want to stray too far from my point, which is the nomination process.

While I greatly appreciated the phone call, I couldn’t help but feel like dad was disappointed when I closed our conversation thanking him and saying we’d consider Caitlin when we’d make our decisions after deadline.

Whether it was coordinated before, after or during our chat, a slow barrage of phone calls came in over the next couple of hours. It was pretty obvious that most of the callers had never seen our Athlete of the Week poster series.

It quickly went from cute to annoying, and coaxed me to clarify our policy. It’s not a voting process. And, as was discussed at about 1 o’clock Saturday morning, the Hawkins family tree overplayed their hand. Truth be told, there was already a leader in the clubhouse who would be tough to displace.

As for the criteria that so cemented the young lady’s status? That’s a whole ‘nother column. The CliffsNotes version: It’s not just tangibles, although points, no-hitters and touchdowns grab our attention. We pick four athletes – a boy and a girl in each market – who have the best total of tangibles and intangibles.

Oftentimes, we need you – the mom, dad, cousin, math teacher, etc. – to help us out with those intangibles. And don’t think because they’re not Athlete of the Week that they disappear from our radar. See: Elliott Frankfother, whom my wife spotlighted in the news section Friday for his Scholastic Bowl achievements.

Keep the nominations coming, folks. After that, however, you’ll just have to leave the voting to us.

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