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Attorney David Betras announced today that voting for the boys and girls basketball Coach John Kopp Heart of a Champion Award is now open and will conclude at the end of  the NCAA Division One Basketball Men’s and Women’s championship tournaments on April 7. Fans may cast one vote per day by logging into the Betras, Kopp & Harshman website: http://www.bhlaws.com/a-professional-law-firm-2

The 2013-2014 HOC Award winners were for basketball were then-seniors Evan Standohar of Girard High School and Brittany Zupko of Struthers High.

According to Attorney Betras, Evan and Stephanie had many things in common, including being named to the Associated Press Northeast Inland All-District basketball squad.  “They proved game after game, year after year that they have the grit, determination, dedication, and courage needed to succeed in sports, in school and in life. They’ve each proven that they have the heart of a champion.”

Named for  Betras, Kopp & Harshman partner Brian Kopp’s father, local coaching legend John Kopp, the firm’s Heart of a Champion Award provides local sports fans with the opportunity to vote for area high school athletes who demonstrate determination and courage on the gridiron, the court, and the diamond.  Student athletes who win the award will receive a custom-designed trophy from BKH.  Their schools will a $2,500 cash stipend for use by the school’s athletic program.

 “John Kopp made an indelible impression on each and every athlete he coached during his long and storied career,” Attorney Betras commented.  “We’re proud to share his legacy and lessons with today’s student-athletes by sponsoring this exciting new award.”

“My dad has always served as inspiration to me and my entire family,” Brian Kopp noted.  “He taught us that preparation, dedication, and courage were the keys to victory in sports and success in life.  Those lessons made me a better athlete when I was younger and they’ve made me a better husband, father, and attorney as an adult.  It’s my hope that the award we’ve named for him will inspire kids across our region to achieve and succeed.”

Read about the winners of the inaugural HOC awards, Trey Bryarly of Howland and Joey Tabachino of Cardinal Mooney for football and Evan Standohar of Girard and Stephanie Zupko of Struthers for basketball:

Howland’s Trey Bryarly, Mooney’s Joey Tabachino named winners of first Betras, Kopp & Harshman Coach John Kopp Heart of a Champion Award

Two standout defenders are the winners of the first annual Betras, Kopp & Harshman Coach John Kopp Heart of a Champion Award for high school football.  Attorney David Betras, BKH’s managing partner and local coaching legend John Kopp, for whom the award is named, made the announcement today during a press conference at the law firm’s office in Canfield. 

Trey Bryarly, senior cornerback from Howland was named the winner among players competing in Ohio High School Athletic Association Divisions I, II, and III. Joey Tabachino, senior linebacker from Cardinal Mooney won the award for players competing in Divisions IV, V, VI, and VII. The student-athletes, who were selected by fans in season-long voting, received custom-made trophies to commemorate their achievement. Each school will receive a $2,500 cash stipend for use by their respective athletic programs.

“On behalf of everyone at Betras, Kopp & Harshman I would like to thank the hundreds of fans who cast votes during the season and to commend them for selecting two remarkable student-athletes to receive the first Heart of a Champion awards,” Attorney Betras said. “I’d also like to congratulate every player who received a vote.  Along with Trey and Joey, fans expressed support for 77 players representing 35 schools in Mahoning, Trumbull, and Columbiana counties. That clearly shows how much the people in our area love high school football and the young men who play it.”

 Attorney Betras noted that Sam Ortz of Fitch and Jawuan Jones of Youngstown East finished second and third in voting for players in Divions I, II, and III.  Ryan Miller of South Range and Gabe Crowe of Springfield Local finished in a tie for second in Divisions IV, V, VI, and VII.

 John Kopp who presented the awards to the winners said the fact that two defensive players were selected says a lot about the mindset of the people of the Mahoning Valley.  “We’ve always been a blue-collar town that values hard work, grit, and courage,” Mr. Kopp commented. “That’s what it takes to play great defense and that’s what Trey and Joey bring to every play in every game.  I’m pleased that fans recognized and rewarded them for having the heart to succeed on the field and in life.”

Coach Kopp offered these comments about each HOC winner:

Trey Bryarly, Senior, Howland High School, Cornerback, 5’6”/160.

Trey is a ferocious tackler, exceptional cover corner, and outstanding special team player. Although he is often smaller than the running backs he takes on in the open field and the receivers he faces one-on-one, Trey’s tenacity and courage combined with his speed, strength and intelligence make him one of the area’s best defensive players and all conference first-teamer.  He truly personifies the values and principles embodied by the Coach John Kopp Heart of a Champion Award and we are both pleased and proud to honor him today.

Joey Tabachino, Senior, Cardinal Mooney High School, 6’/225.

Joey Tabachino is a standout athlete from a school that has been home to many of the Mahoning Valley’s greatest football players. After watching just a few moments of his highlight reel I began to feel sorry for the linemen who were supposed to block him as well as the ball carriers who paid the price for all those missed blocks. Along with being an extraordinary athlete, Joey is a remarkable young man. He helped propel Mooney to the state championship game while dealing with the stress that accompanies moving to a new community.  He truly exemplifies what it means to possess the “Heart of a Champion” and we are delighted to honor him today.

Standohar, Zupko win inaugural HOC cage awards

Although Hoosiers is regarded as the signature movie about high school basketball and Indiana is reputed to be the state where hoops are king, the Mahoning Valley has a long tradition of producing outstanding basketball talent—a tradition that stretches back to the days when WKBN’s legendary Don Gardner broadcast Steel Valley conference triple-headers from South High Field House on frigid Friday nights.

Basketball continues to dominate winter sports in the region with one important addition: girls basketball has exploded onto the scene.

Today we’re presenting the 2013-2014 Coach John Kopp Heart of a Champion Award for high school basketball to two standout cage stars:  Girard High senior Evan Standohar and Struthers senior Brittany Zupko.

These impressive student athletes have many things in common, including being named to the Associated Press Northeast Inland All-District basketball squad.  They’ve proven game after game, year after year that they have the grit, determination, dedication, and courage needed to succeed in sports, in school and in life. They’ve each proven that they have the heart of a champion.

In fact, here’s what the Tribune Chronicle said about Evan in an article that hailed his rebounding prowess:  

“According to the physics of basketball, Evan Standohar has no business spending time near the hoop. Players that are 5-foot-9 are best suited for a guard position near the perimeter. An occasional drive to the basket might produce a field goal or a rebound by a lucky bounce. 

So why is it that Standohar, a senior for the Girard Indians, is averaging nearly 11 rebounds a game for a second straight season? There has to be more to it than leaping ability, which in Standohar’s case won’t produce any slam dunks.

What the measurements listed in game programs don’t include is the size of a player’s heart. In that listing, Standohar measures up quite well.”

We, and the fans who voted for him obviously agree, so it is with great pride and pleasure that we present Evan Standohar with the Heart of a Champion Award for boys basketball along with a check for $2,500 for the school’s athletic program.

Congratulations, Evan.

Like Evan, Brittany Zupko’s talent and achievements have been the topic of numerous stories in area sports pages. Whether ripping down rebounds, she averaged over ten per game this season, or ripping off ten straight points in critical situations, Brittany has led the Wildcats to victory throughout her career.

In addition to her achievements on the court, Brittany, a member of the National Honor Society, is a winner in the classroom who also devotes considerable time and energy to serving her community.

And so it is with great pleasure that we present Brittany Zupko with the Heart of a Champion Award for girls basketball along with a check for $2,500 for the Struthers athletic department.

Congratulations Brittany.






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