TUHS senior represents South Sequoia League at Central Section banquet

Taft Union High School Senior Jackson Van Roekel was named one of the 28 CIF Central Section Scholar Athletes of the Year for 2019 on April 29 at a dinner at the Wyndham Hotel in Visalia.

Van Roekel is the top scholar-athlete in the South Sequoia League.

There are 125 highs schools in 14 leagues in the CIF Central Section and each league nominated one male athlete and one female athlete for this year’s scholarship. Alondra Patino of Robert F. Kennedy High School (softball, volleyball, 3.75 GPA) in Delano was the female representative for the South Sequoia League. Recipients are awarded for their athletic, academic and community activities.

Van Roekel played football, basketball and baseball in all four years as a Wildcat, earning eight varsity letters. He has a 4.33 grade point average, fourth highest among the 28 award winners. 

After dinner, Van Roekel was introduced by CIF Central Section President-elect Matt Sozinho who read comments about Jackson from TUHS Principal Mary Alice Finn, Guidance Counselor Jana Durkan and Varsity Baseball Coach Matt Davis.

“This is a huge honor for Jackson," said Davis. "The kids that receive these awards are something else, they are very impressive. All of these kids are playing three or more sports during the year, all while maintaining at least a 4.3 G.P.A. For Jackson to be there with that level of athletes is remarkable.”

Van Roekel thanked the CIF for the award, his parents and brother, Athletic Director Mr. Robert Ramirez and Coach Davis for attending the event. 

Davis said Van Roekel is leaving some big shoes to fill when he graduates.

"I am going to miss his leadership and his ability to strive for excellence," Davis said.. "He is always getting in his work, he is always trying to better himself and better his team mates. I'm definitely going to miss his strive for excellence but number one is definitely his leadership skills. That is an area where other guys are going to have to step up and fill that role because that is going to be a big void to be filled with him leaving us. We have leaders on the team but when you have a four year guy who has done everything you have asked of him and leads by example, you are always going to take a hit.”

Van Roekel is planning on attending Taft College in the fall and continue to play baseball.  Other notable winners included; Parker Boswell of El Diamante High School (Visalia) who also won the CIF State Scholar Athlete award of $5,000, attending UCLA, California state shot put champions Daniel Viveros (Liberty, Bakersfield, attending Ole Miss on a track scholarship) and Jocelynn Budwig (Fowler, attending Auburn University on a track scholarship), record setting Central High School (Fresno) quarterback Trenton Tompkins (UC Davis), Sydney Kuma (Washington Union attending University of Georgia on a softball scholarship) and Stockdale High School (Bakersfield) valdivictorian, Naomi Jennings will attempt to walk on in women’s basketball at Harvard University in the fall.

Coach Davis was asked what he was going to miss about Jackson on the baseball field next season. The reply was, “I am going to miss his leadership and his ability to strive for excellence. He is always getting in his work, he is always trying to better himself and better his team mates. I'm definitely going to miss his strive for excellence but number one is definitely his leadership skills. That is an area where other guys are going to have to step up and fill that role because that is going to be a big void to be filled with him leaving us. We have leaders on the team but when you have a four year guy who has done everything you have asked of him and leads by example, you are always going to take a hit.”

A big congratulations to Jackson for receiving this honor, it is well deserved and as coach Davis said, he will definitely be missed next year. Good luck in your future endeavors.