The Boys & Girls Club of Greater Scottsdale has started its judging process for this year’s Youth of the Year award. Members and representatives from all clubs in the area met on Tuesday, Nov. 16, to decide branch winners. For the third year in a row, JP Cahill will represent the Mary Ellen and Robert McKee Branch.
Cahill is a junior at Fountain Hills High School, and an active student at that. He’s been a club member for 10 years and he swims in the fall, wrestles in the winter and runs track in the spring. Already this year, Cahill was part of the boys swim 400 freestyle relay team that set a school record this season and, according to him, he is the No. 7 preseason Division IV wrestler in his weight class (128).
In between his training and practices, Cahill has been writing three essays and practicing a three-minute speech for the Youth of the Year competition.
Cahill has two years of experience and knows what to expect in the contest. Members recently gave their speeches and answered judge panel questions for the first time, and Cahill has about a month until the next stage of the competition. He said he will prepare thorough answers and work on his speech until then.
“One of my passions is communicating and meeting new people, and you do that a lot through Youth of the Year,” Cahill said. “It’s just such a great experience. If you had asked me two years ago, I was more reserved and kept to myself. But not only does this program bring out the true you, it brings out stuff you didn’t know was in you. I didn’t talk to as many people, and now I love communicating and meeting new people and seeing what they’re about.”
Cahill thanked the McKee Branch staff and other Boys & Girls Club volunteers for all their help in his speech. His speech relates superheroes from comic books to superheroes in the club. Cahill uses Batman as his prime example because he makes an impact on people’s lives without any powers, just like the Club staff did for him.
Cahill said that he is a different person because of the experiences he’s had with the Boys & Girls Club. He’s gained confidence and made friends. He’s also thought about his future and wants to go into the medical sales industry later in life.
Cahill will compete against five other club Members from around the Valley for the Youth of the Year award and a $5,000 scholarship. The winner will be announced at next year’s Night of Lights event. Whether he wins or not, Cahill knows that the Club has helped set him up for success.