Alijah Halliburton (21) made the All-Centennial League first team in both football and basketball during the 2015-16 athletic season, credentials that helped him receive the male Kurby Lyle Award for the year. (Photo by Courtney Oakes/Aurora Sentinel)

AURORA | Overland’s Alijah Halliburton and Smoky Hill’s Rachel Whipple both earned the highest distinction possible for a prep athlete in the Cherry Creek School District, as they were awarded the Kurby Lyle Award for 2015-16.

The award — named after former CCSD athletic director and Colorado High School Activities Association Hall of Famer Kurby Lyle — has been given annually to a male and female prep athlete in the district (as selected by district athletic directors) since 1998.

Halliburton and Whipple were surprised with the honor at the senior awards ceremony at their respective schools in May. Both had significant qualifications on and off the playing field.

The multi-talented Halliburton starred in both football and basketball at Overland and earned All-Centennial League first team honors in both sports as a senior to cap a fantastic prep career that surprised even him.

In the fall, the 6-foot-2, 170-pound University of Wyoming-bound safety racked up 125 tackles (86 solo) as a safety for the Trailblazers and just represented his school in the Colorado High School Coaches Association All-State football game.

In the winter, Halliburton was a key piece in Overland’s second straight Class 5A boys basketball state championship and also earned his way into the inaugural A-Town All-Stars Game.

After he committed to Wyoming in December, Halliburton told the Sentinel he hopes to study graphics and animation 3D and minor in business and finance.

He was unaware of the Kurby Lyle Award before he won it and Overland athletic director Stephen DeSchryver sprung his selection on him at the awards ceremony.

Smoky Hill’s Rachel Whipple, winner of the female Kurby Lyle Award for 2015-16, signed to play volleyball with the University of Colorado in April. (Photo by Courtney Oakes/Aurora Sentinel)
Smoky Hill’s Rachel Whipple, winner of the female Kurby Lyle Award for 2015-16, signed to play volleyball with the University of Colorado in April. (Photo by Courtney Oakes/Aurora Sentinel)

“I was just really shocked that I won the award and just to be named the best multi-sport athlete in the Cherry Creek School District is very honoring to me,” Halliburton told the Sentinel. “There’s a lot of great athletes that have accomplished so much and just to think I could win this is crazy.”

Whipple’s primary sport is volleyball and she signed to play Division I at the University of Colorado in April. The two-time All-Centennial League first teamer originally committed to Virginia Commonwealth before a coaching change in Boulder made it possible for her to play there.

She also competed with Smoky Hill’s varsity girls swim team in the winter season and worked with the school’s Unified basketball team.

Whipple also had no idea that she would be receiving the Kurby Lyle award, but was humbled to be chosen.

“To be selected by the athletic directors of each school is very honoring,” she told the Sentinel. “It definitely was a great way to end my high school sports career.”

To be eligible for the Kurby Lyle Award, athletes must have: earned varsity letters in at least two sports during his/her senior year and graduate from a CCSD high school, attend CCSD his/her entire high school career, be accepted to an accredited college or university and plan to compete in athletics in college, plus express and show maturity of purpose and have unquestionable integrity.

The award honors the late Lyle, who spent 12 years as a basketball coach at Cherry Creek High School, which has its main gymnasium bearing his name. Lyle went on to be the district athletic director for CCSD and he was also one of the founders of the Colorado Athletic Directors Association (CADA) and was inducted into CHSAA’s Hall of Fame in 1994.

— Sports Editor Courtney Oakes

Courtney Oakes is sports Editor and photographer with Sentinel Colorado. A Denver East High School alum. He came to the Sentinel in 2001 and since then has received a number of professional awards from...