NAMPA — Canyon County’s top athletes were honored Thursday at the Idaho Press-Tribune’s Sports Stars of Canyon County Athletic Awards ceremony. The event, in its third year, was held at the Nampa Civic Center.

Keynote speaker and Boise State University men’s basketball coach Leon Rice told students in attendance that applying lessons learned in athletics will help them achieve success in life. He encouraged students to continue to be self-motivated.

“It’s not the referees. It’s not the parents,” Rice said. “It’s you.”

In a less serious moment at the awards ceremony, attendees watched a playful video of sports writer Brandon Walton take on wrestler Brandon Kipper, who won the 5A state title for the 285-pound category two years in a row.

Kipper, a Columbia High School graduate, was awarded the overall male athlete of the year award. While he considered wrestling at the college level, he accepted a full-ride scholarship to play football for the University of Hawaii.

“To go through high school where I started and end where I ended, it means a lot,” Kipper told the Press-Tribune after the ceremony.

Melba’s Emma Clark took home the female athlete of the year award.

Only a sophomore, she has already won six state titles in events including the triple jump, long jump and the 100-meter dash.

Clark has ambitions for more titles before she finishes high school.

“It’s another motivation for next year,” she said. “I’ll try to push myself even more.”

Clark and Kipper were given scholarship awards in the amount of $1,000.

The Press-Tribune added a new honor this year, the Legacy Award, to Caldwell-born Cody Pickett. The former professional football player is currently the varsity girl’s basketball coach at Eagle High School.

Olivia Weitz is the Canyon County and city of Caldwell reporter. She can be reached at 465-8107 or Follow @oliviaweitz1.

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