Sam Stahlhut was ready to take a photo of Kodiak’s Special Olympics athlete of the year; he wasn’t prepared to take a photo of himself.
“I thought it was a mistake, because my mom set me up with a camera and I was ready to take a picture and they called my name,” Stahlhut said.
He still didn’t believe it when his name was announced. He figured the award was meant to go to his younger brother, Ben.
“I thought since me and Ben look somewhat similar that they switched it up,” Stahlhut said.
There was no switch: Stahlhut became the eighth recipient of the annual award on Feb. 16. He joined past winners Amy Canavan, Christopher Kavanaugh, Arne Tveit, Aaron Dolph, Julia Wiley, Derrick Blondin and Kathy Moody.
It was an easy decision by Kodiak’s Special Olympic coaches and the community management team to give Stahlhut the trophy — a football that travels from winner to winner.
“He is very competitive, but also takes defeat very noble and displays leadership,” Special Olympics area director Dan Canavan said. “With that he really sets an example with the rest of the athletes on what it is to be a Special Olympics athlete.”
Stalhut, 18, has been participating in floor hockey, swimming and bowling for the past six years. He has also dabbled in basketball. His favorite out of the four is floor hockey.
“It is a very active sport — very physical,” he said.
Stalhut is a scoring machine and said he really enjoys shooting. He scored more than six goals during Kodiak’s local floor hockey game this year.
“He is not afraid to shoot — ever,” first-year floor hockey coach Robert Feldmeyer said.
Stalhut leads his team to the Special Olympics Alaska Winter Games that begin Friday in Anchorage.
“Sam is very serious at floor hockey,” Feldmeyer said. “You can tell he really enjoys it and takes charge with everything from running stretches to throwing the pennies (jerseys) on and playing in a scrimmage.”
When not playing floor hockey, Stahlhut works as a courtesy clerk at Safeway and enjoys cooking at home — his favorite food to cook is garlic bread.
He is a senior at Kodiak High School and plans to attend the University of Alaska Fairbanks after taking classes at Kodiak College.
“First I am going to take a couple of classes here to get used to the whole college thing before I go over there,” he said.
Contact Mirror writer Derek Clarkston at firstname.lastname@example.org.