Inspirational athletes honored by MHS Booster Club

Malibu High Athletic Booster Club President Melissa Shanahan (center) is shown with Inspirational Athlete Award winners (from left) Hannah Kaloper, Sailor Graham, Graydon Phelps, and Asher Katz. Photo by Najla Alghaziani.

Four Malibu High School student-athletes were recipients of the Malibu High Athletic Booster Club’s inaugural Inspirational Athlete Awards on May 25. 

The honored athletes were freshman golfer Sailor Graham, junior baseball and basketball player Asher Katz and sophomores Graydon Phelps, a football player and golfer, and Hannah Kaloper, a basketball player and track and field athlete. 

Najla Alghaziani, vice president of the Booster Club, said in an email that a 12-parent subcommittee voted the four athletes as winners of the new award based on several traits they displayed during the year. Those characteristics had to do with connecting with their peers in a good way, being supportive of teammates, setting goals for their teammates, and showing commitment and leadership on and off the field. 

“This is such a great recognition of hope and light in these beautiful teenagers’ lives,” Alghaziani wrote.

Graham was shocked when she learned she was tapped for the Inspirational Athlete Award but noted that it was nice to be thought of as an inspirational athlete.

“The reason why I think I would be put up for this award is because of my work ethic,” said Graham, who was a Citrus Coast League first-team golfer with Phelps and teammate Sam St. John this season. “If I could choose, I would be at the golf course 24/7 practicing, and I think that it has definitely helped improve my game drastically.” 

Kaloper was also shocked to win the award from the Booster Club. 

“It’s a cool thing,” she said. “I feel really loved and seen.” 

Malibu High didn’t put a girls hoops team on the court because of a lack of players during Kaloper’s freshman year so she was a member of the boys team. This season, the girls team had enough players to compete, and Kaloper said she strove to put in as much effort as possible and lead by example. 

“Practice after school is just the baseline; it’s never enough,” she said. “I think the way I was going the extra mile, always being the last one in the gym, always pushing everyone else and pushing myself showed people it takes a lot of heart to really build something. To live something fulfilling, you really have to put your heart into it first. That’s what I try to do.” 

The Inspirational Athlete Award winners were given engraved pieced of jewelry and handwritten notes. 

Alghaziani said the honor would be given out annually and wouldn’t have been possible without Booster Club President Melissa Shanahan and support from Malibu High Athletic Director Chris Neier and Assistant Principal Adam Almeida.