Cambria Reds Little League player Zack Stephenson has won the Kniffen Award for 2016. The award — announced Saturday, June 4, at the Little League closing ceremonies in Morro Bay — is given every season to the 12-year-old player who best demonstrates sportsmanship, outstanding leadership and a strong love for the game of baseball.
The award — voted on by Little League coaches — was created in 2011 as a way to recognize the many years that Cambria’s Steve Kniffen has devoted to youth sports activities in Cambria.
Cambria Giants’ coach Matt Saunders lauded Stephenson’s leadership.
“I personally have been able to witness this trait of his,” he said. “He has taken my own son Robert under his wing and showed him tips and tricks about pitching in particular.
“The other thing that stands out about Zack is that he is constantly present at the baseball fields, always working, always playing ball, always ready to help anybody.”
Bob Kasper, who has served as a head coach for the Cambria Cardinals and as an assistant for the Reds, appreciated Zack’s “helpful nature when trying to teach other kids about the subtle nuances of baseball.”
Zack helped other younger players understand those subtleties, Kasper explained. And moreover, Zack deserves the Kniffen Award because he “exemplified” his love of the game in many positive ways, according to Kasper.
The first recipient of the Kniffen Award (in 2011) was Alexis Mireles (MVP of the 2016 tennis team). In 2012, Will Stephenson (second team All-Coast Valley League in 2016) and Thor Ronemus shared the award.
The 2013 winners were Chase Volz (first team All-CVL, and winner of the Broncos’ Coach’s Award this year) and Edgar Nunez (first team all-CVL, and this year’s winner of Broncos’ Most Improved).
Carlos Guizar won the award in 2014, and Emany Plasencia won it in 2015.