It was fitting that Allie Souza, the star three-sport athlete at Westhill High School, was selected Wednesday night as this year’s winner of the Allyson Rioux award.
After all, Souza was named after her.
Souza, who has been part of state championship softball and soccer teams at Westhill, where she also played basketball, was named as the 27th recipient of the Rioux award, which is given to the most outstanding senior female high school athlete in Stamford. Souza was selected over eight other finalists, according to Cheryl Tiscia, the president of the Allyson Rioux Memorial Foundation and Rioux’s sister.
“With Allie, what came across were the letter of recommendations,” Tiscia said. “I don’t know that I’ve ever read recommendations this powerful.”
Tiscia cited one from Dave Flower, the Vikings’ girls soccer coach, who referred to Souza as a “multi-generational personality” for her ability to work with freshmen on the field, then after a game talk to adults as equals.
Rioux, who was named to All-State teams in three sports at Westhill and went on to earn second team All-American honors playing for the University of Massachusetts softball team, died of a brain tumor in 1989 at the age of 27.
Souza, who is attending Yale next year, will receive a $5,000 scholarship.
Souza’s mother, Nancy, is a former teammate and close friend of Rioux’s, who thought enough to name her oldest child after her. Tiscia said that both Nancy Souza and the relative of another finalist did not take part in the decision process.
“To take the subjectivity out of it we have a point system and we try to put ratings to these things,” Tiscia said.
Souza’s team ethic has been evident by her volunteering to play out of position in two sports. She filled the void in centerfield her entire career for the Vikings, though she is a natural shortstop, and earned league and state honors. She also played goalkeeper this past season for the soccer team.
“She was named after my sister and I remember when she was born,” Tiscia said. “I read through her essay and what her coaches said, and it reminded me of my sister. We’re very, very excited. My mother doesn’t say much but she was over the top. Allie has a special place in her heart for so many reasons. We feel we made the right decision.”
Souza emerged from one of the most talented classes of senior athletes in recent memory.
“It was a long night this year,” Tiscia said. “We had some really good candidates. It was probably the first time that out of the nine applicants, five of them were neck and neck. It was amazing.”
We will have a complete report in Friday’s edition of the Stamford Advocate, with comments from Souza.
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