Leaders come in all sorts of packages.
Some are vocal while others prefer to lead by example; some are the aggressors while others are more opportunistic; and some are experienced veterans while others dive into the mix as underclassmen.
Regardless of the number of different ways there are of exerting leadership qualities, there is one trait all leaders undoubtedly share: they drive their team's success. That is exactly what the Deseret News' state girls' soccer MVPs did throughout their respective seasons. The 2012 award-winners are Alta's Bizzy Phillips, Bonneville's Megan Fillpot, Snow Canyon's Sarah Henderson, and Waterford's Grace Sponaugle.
5A: Bizzy Phillips, Alta
The Alta midfielder's given name is Elisabeth Phillips, but she prefers to go by the shorter nickname of Bizzy. It is a title that is much more descriptive of her personality, both on and off the soccer field.
"She is definitely a 'Bizzy'," Alta coach Lee Mitchell said when asked about the junior's name.
"She was our energizer," he continued. "She is what made us go."
Phillips not only provided the team with endless amounts of energy, she also led the team in scoring with 22 goals, bringing her career total to 35 goals, and helped the Hawks get to their eighth championship match in the past 11 seasons.
Phillips scored two of Alta's three goals in the semifinal victory over Northridge to secure the title game rematch with Viewmont.
"As a team, our kids work really well together," Mitchell said, "but we are a different team without her."
As good as Phillips is on the soccer field, Mitchell added that "she is even a better friend and person."
"She is an individual you like to be around, she builds everybody up," he continued. "She is a bubbly kid who enjoys life and everything she does."
Phillips is also an excellent student and has committed to play for BYU after her career at Alta.
"I hope she will do the same kinds of things as this year," Mitchell said of what he anticipates from Phillips as a senior. "I expect that she will just pick up right where she left off."
4A: Megan Fillpot, Bonneville
Fillpot was never a very outspoken leader. The goalkeeper opted to do her talking with her effort in the net. But at the beginning of the 2012 season, the senior spoke up and made a clear statement.
"At one of the first practices, she stood up and said, 'We're here to win a state championship. If you're not here for that, then you need to leave,' " Bonneville coach Rob McDaniel remembered.
The Lakers did go on to win the 4A title — their second in three years — and Fillpot had a great deal to do with her team's success.
She recorded the most shutouts (12) and allowed the fewest goals (eight) ever for a Bonneville goalkeeper. Those numbers are at or near the top of the 4A and state leaderboard as well. Fillpot tied two other goalkeepers — 3A's Grace Walton of Snow Canyon and Kelsey East of Ogden — for the most shutouts this season and just one team, Ogden, allowed fewer goals with seven.
Ironically, in spite of all of her success, goalkeeper isn't the position Fillpot would prefer to fill.
"She would rather play on the field," McDaniel said. "It has been a battle between she and I, but look what she does in goal. It just comes natural to her."
Fillpot, who has a goal of continuing her soccer career beyond high school, moved into the Lakers' starting lineup midway through the season during her sophomore year. She played all four playoff games en route to that championship and also earned the first five of her 26 career shutouts. That is a stat that ranks her tied for ninth all-time in the state.
3A: Sarah Henderson, Snow Canyon
This season, the Snow Canyon roster listed 10 seniors, all of which had played together since fourth grade. Those girls had led the Warriors to the quarterfinals or semifinals each of the previous three seasons, but could not break through to the finals.
Their senior year, the 10 girls decided it was time to change that trend.
They led Snow Canyon to its first ever appearance in the final match and its first ever girls' soccer championship with a 1-0 victory over Park City.
Henderson scored that lone goal. She was the difference between victory and defeat, just as she had been in multiple games throughout the season leading up to that big day.
"Sometimes you've got to get lucky, but you also have to take advantage of the opportunities — and Sarah did that," Snow Canyon coach Ken Kunde said after winning the title match.
"(She) is the student body president, an Academic All-State (recipient), and she is an all-around tremendous girl," Kunde added when asked about his senior leader. "She comes from a great family and, no doubt, she is the heart and soul of this team."
Henderson totaled seven goals her senior season, and scored 20 in her four-year career at Snow Canyon. She is a player who used her leadership abilities to positively influence her team in ways much greater than scoring.
"I really thing that the greatest emotion that overcame all of us (after winning the championship) was gratitude," Henderson said. "I can't say it enough: So much thanks to the coaches and the parents and the fans, and everybody that has put so much into this team, so much time, money, effort into helping us do this. It was an overwhelming feeling of gratitude."
2A: Grace Sponaugle, Waterford
Sponaugle is just a sophomore, but she is already playing like an experienced veteran.
Twice during the 2A state tournament, the young defender moved forward on the field to score game-changing goals.
Sponaugle scored both Waterford goals in the 2-1 victory over Maeser Prep in the semifinals, sending the Ravens to their fifth straight appearance in a championship game.
The next day, after facing a one-goal deficit to region rival St. Joseph for much of the championship match, Sponaugle tied the score late in the game and forced a shootout.
"She hit both goals yesterday and the one today," Waterford coach Tim Dolbin said after his team won its second consecutive championship.
"She's only a 10th-grade player, and she's got a long soccer future ahead of her."
Her growth on the field over the past season has been noticeable. As a freshman, Sponaugle scored two goals. She recorded nine goals this season as a sophomore, the second-highest total behind teammates Caroline Coats and Mitsu Miyashima, who each scored 10.
"With all the soccer she plays in and out of high school," Dolbin said, "she is going to be a very good player."
email: [email protected]