WATERTOWN, NY — Two seniors were recognized as the top graduating athletes at Watertown High School and the recipients of the William I. Graf Award on Wednesday. Haleigh Foster was selected as the school’s female recipient and Brian Netto was chosen for the school’s male honor this year.
The William I. Graf Award was created in 1954 by the Italian American Civic Association to honor Mr. Graf’s leadership and civic engagement in the community. Mr. Graf was a multi-sport coach and athletic director at Watertown High School. Graf award honorees are expected to have participated in at least two or more varsity sports in their senior year and showcase exceptional individual characteristics in sportsmanship, discipline, fair play, training, ability and academics.
Haleigh Foster excelled as an athlete with all-star selections for volleyball and track and field during her sophomore, junior and senior years. Foster was also a multiple-year-champion in the 100 meter competition, with a Frontier League championship and was a sectional and state qualifier. She has accepted a Division I Track & Field scholarship to Niagara University.
Brian Netto was a multi-sport Frontier League all-star during his high school athletic career. He was a soccer all-star with a playoff championship during his sophomore year as well as a Frontier League lacrosse champ, completing the year with honorable mention. During his junior year he was on the championship team in soccer and was selected, once again as a Frontier League all-star and received an All-North honorable mention. Additionally he was on the basketball championship team with another All-North honorable mention. He completed his junior year as a lacrosse Frontier League all-star. During his senior year, Netto’s soccer team netted a league, playoff and sectional championship. He was selected as an All-CNY large school, All-North MVP and finished the season as a basketball Frontier League all-star. Brian will be attending St. John Fisher College, majoring in nursing, and has plans to play collegiate soccer.
More than 100 graduating high school seniors have received the Graf Award. Watertown High School’s athletics staff selects the recipients each year, and the Italian American Civic Association presents the award, in partnership with the Northern New York Community Foundation. Following the death of Mr. Graf’s son, William A. Graf, in 2013, the family decided to honor him by funding a financial award for recipients. William A. Graf, who also exemplified the traits of the award, attended Watertown High School and played several varsity sports coached by his father, William I. Graf.
Each recipient receives an award of $500. The Northern New York Community Foundation was selected to help continue the Graf family legacy by administering the fund in perpetuity and raising awareness of the award for students striving to earn the prestigious honor.
The Northern New York Community Foundation makes grants to support the work of non-profit organizations and provides scholarships to individuals in Jefferson, Lewis and St. Lawrence counties. The Foundation has been built and added to from gifts (both while living and through their legacy plans) by individuals and organizations committed to meeting the changing needs of Northern New York, as well as supporting specific charitable interests and passions.
Official: NNY Community Foundation