Pilgrim boys’ lacrosse junior goalkeeper Tyler Balutowski was recently honored by the Rhode Island Lacrosse Officials Association with the Lance Corporal Eric P. Valdepenas Unsung Hero Award following a standout spring season.
The award has been given out every year since 2007, and it recognizes a junior who displays silent leadership, in addition to excelling on and off the field.
Pilgrim head coach Alex Gregson nominated Balutowski for the award for several reasons.
“The kid’s a lights out goalie and a great kid,” Gregson said. “He never calls anyone out or points the finger at anyone. It’s always about what we can do better as a team.”
“It’s a huge honor,” Balutowski said. “To know that (the officials) think I’m one of the most respectful kids in the league, it’s a huge honor, especially coming from an official’s standpoint.”
Balutowski spearheaded Pilgrim’s defensive efforts, compiling the seventh-highest saves total in the state with 173 while helping to lead the Pats to the Division III title game.
But, in addition to his playing ability, he also displayed tremendous sportsmanship and respect for his opponents.
“After we lost the title game, Tyler was one of only two or three guys on our team that clapped for every Chariho player during the awards ceremony,” Gregson said. “He gives credit where credit is due. He personifies what a lacrosse player should be.”
Balutowski is the first-ever Pilgrim player to receive this particular award. He will be back to lead the Pats on the field once again next season.