WILSON – Wilson High School senior Lindsay Bryer made history earlier this year when she was the first student from her school to earn the Niagara Police Athletic League’s Prep Athlete of the Year Award in the 30-year history of the award.

Lindsay, a standout volleyball and softball player, called the award “awesome” and said she was “very shocked” to earn it.

Niagara PAL chooses one top senior female and male athlete from the 13 Niagara County high schools for the award each year. Alex Reid, of Lockport High School, won the top male athlete honors at last month’s awards ceremony.

“It has been a very rewarding experience to coach Lindsay on both junior varsity and varsity, because I’ve been able to see her grow over the years,” said Maureen Mahar, Lindsay’s softball coach. “When I’m working with younger players who may be struggling with a particular skill, I’ll often describe how Lindsay used to struggle and get frustrated, too, so they can see what the end result will be in a few years if they work hard to make positive changes.

Mahar continued: “Because she is such a leader in the program and so well-respected, her influence will be felt here long after she graduates. Being there to see her reaction and offer her speech after winning the first PAL Award bestowed on a Wilson athlete was a very special moment ... she certainly deserves all the accolades she has received.”

Lindsay said she’s slated to play volleyball next year as a student at Canton State College, where she plans to study to become a dental hygienist. She also hopes to play college softball.

“We’re really proud of her,” said her mother, Jackie Benton, who is also Lindsay’s volleyball coach. “She puts in a lot of outside work, and she’s passionate about what she does. She definitely deserved this.”

Under her mother’s tutelage, Lindsay, a setter, led her volleyball team to two consecutive, undefeated seasons and Niagara Orleans League championship titles the past two years. She earned All-League first team honors and All-Western New York honors two years, and served as team captain and earned Most Valuable Player honors the past three years. In addition, she has played on seven All-Tournament teams the past three years.

When commenting on the special relationship the mother and daughter maintain as coach and student, Benton said, “Lindsay’s played club volleyball since fourth grade, so we’ve spent a lot of time in the car driving to practices and games all over. It’s not difficult at all. In fact, it’s been very enjoyable, and it’s worked out well.”

Lindsay also is looking forward to a good final high school softball season as a senior under the direction of coach Mahar. Lindsay earned All-League first team honors in 10th and 11th grade. She’s served as captain for two years and earned MVP last year.

A pitcher, Lindsay said, “I’m the only senior on the team this year. We’re young, but experienced.”

Of the PAL award, she said, “This means a lot to me. I was shocked when I got it. I’m a hard worker, and so this has all paid off. I play club volleyball and work out and take private pitching lessons and play summer softball, too.”

Lindsay has also earned Wilson’s Athlete of the Week honors the past three years and has been named a New York State High School Scholar-Athlete six times.