HR Awards - Noah Slagter: Always enthused, always competitive, always humble
As his star guard headed to the basket, Willmar boys basketball coach Matt Williams bounded from his chair toward the scorer's table and Cardinals players started rising in anticipation from their seats on the bench.
When Noah Slagter's shot dropped through the net, Williams immediately signalled for a timeout and the Cards began celebrating Slagter reaching the 1,000-point career milestone in a Dec. 28, 2016 victory over New London-Spicer.
But there were no fist pumps, chest thumps, whoops or hollers coming from the stoic man of the moment. He smiled and accepted the congratulations, took the game ball, climbed into the stands to give it to his parents and he hugged his folks.
Then it was back to the court. It wasn't a culmination, it was just a beginning.
"Noah is the most decorated player in Cardinal basketball history for good reason," said Williams of the player who would this year become Willmar's all-time scoring leader with 2,045 points. "He led the Cardinals for four seasons, being voted by his teammates as the team MVP all four years. Noah is a great leader and teammate, he never settled for being just good, he wanted to be the best."
And in 2018, he is. Slagter is the West Central Tribune's Hengstler-Ranweiler Award winner as the area's top male three-sport prep athlete.
It's not an easy spot for a freshman, to be the varsity team's top player. Slagter never let it affect his performances.
In addition to the scoring numbers, he also finished his career with 574 rebounds and 249 assists. He shot 47.1 percent from the field, 38.5 percent from 3-point range and 85.6 from the foul line.
As a senior, Slagter averaged 22.3 points, 6.9 rebonds, 2.1 assists and 2.3 steals while shooting 91.8 percent from the free throw line. He hit 44 percent of his 3-point shots and 53.2 percent from inside the arc. He led Willmar to a 26-3 record, a Central Lakes Conference championship and a spot in the Section 5AAA title game.
"To put up the numbers that he did, while being a three-sport athlete, is truly remarkable," Williams said.
Indeed, Slagter was not an athletic one-trick pony.
In football, Slagter lettered and started three years and earned All-CLC honors twice as a wide receiver and cornerback.
As a senior, Slagter made 52 catches for 568 yards and eight touchdowns. In his career, Slagter made 124 receptions for 1,386 yards and 17 TDs.
The 124 catches and 17 touchdown receptions are both all-time school records.
On defense, as a senior, he made 22 tackles, intercepted three passes and recovered a fumble. He had 75 career tackles with four interceptions, two fumble recoveries and four tackles for losses. Slagter also returned nine punts for a 22.1-yard average and he returned one punt for a TD.
"Noah had an outstanding football career for the Cardinals," said head coach Jon Konold. "Noah was a captain his senior season and he displayed outstanding leadership and character among his peers and coaches."
Those sentiments echo throughout in his track and field career, too. He finished his prep career ranked No. 4 all-time with a 41-feet-11 in the triple jump and 21-feet-3 in the long jump. His performances in those events, in relays and the high jump helped the Cardinals win, prominently among many others, three-straight Minnesota State True Team Class AA championships.
"Noah's quiet demeanor actually hides a fierce competitive spirit that allows him to consistently place high at every level and earn state honor roll efforts in both jumps," said head coach Jerry Popp. "Always enthused, always competitive, always humble. Noah embodies the very best attributes that you hope to find in today's youth."
As Slagter calmly eases on to the next chapter in his athletic and academic lives, his wake won't ebb quickly.
"It is hard to imagine that Noah's time is done at Willmar High School," Konold said. "He has been an outstanding athlete and fiery competitor on the field, court and track, but the memories that I will remember most are how he treated others and the relationships that he built with his teammates and coaches."