A three-sport athlete and an outstanding student at Escalon High School, senior Elijah ‘Eli’ Lattig has been recognized with the Clarke Coover award, presented by the California Interscholastic Federation’s Sac-Joaquin Section.
Section officials this past week announced its A. Dale Lacky Scholar-Athlete Award winners for outstanding athletic performance, community service and academic success during their four years of high school.
The award, named after former Section and State CIF President, A. Dale Lacky, recognizes the top male and female student-athletes within the Section. Each league is able to send two winners, one male and one female, to be honored.
In addition, the Clarke Coover Award has been given to two of the top honorees. This award is named in honor of former Section Commissioner Clarke Coover. The 2021 winners of the Clarke Coover Award were Escalon’s Lattig and Le Grand’s Alexa Ultreras.
Under normal circumstances, all schools are allowed to play one extra volleyball game and an extra boys and girls basketball game with 50 percent of the gate funding scholarships for these awards. However, since the foundation games weren’t allowed to be played due to the COVID-19 pandemic, there is no financial award being given for 2020-21.
All of the winners were to be recognized at the annual CIF Sac-Joaquin Section Awards Ceremony via Zoom on Tuesday, May 11. The Section honored its three male and three female model coach winners during the May 11 Zoom as well.
Lattig played football and tennis for four years each, soccer for three seasons and he played basketball as a freshman. In football, he won the Most Improved Award twice, the Coaches Award three times and he was part of the state championship team his junior year. In tennis, he received Most Improved and Most Dedicated Awards. He’s won academic awards in physical education and animal science.
“It’s nice to know that all my hard work on the field and in the classroom has paid off,” said Lattig, adding that he was notified of the recognition by getting a letter from the Section in the mail and also being contacted by EHS Athletic Director Nate Bartelink.
At EHS, Lattig is a member of FFA, Key Club and Fellowship of Christian Athletes. He has a 4.13 GPA, which is No. 3 in his class of 211.
As far as his athletic endeavors, Lattig said though he loves both football and tennis, he saw football “as more of a job” while tennis, for him, was “simply fun.”
With football, he explained, you had to put in the hours of work, dedication and sacrifice, which paid off in the form of a state championship to cap off the 2019 campaign during his junior year. As a senior, the team had a shortened schedule, playing just three games this spring, so they did not have the opportunity to defend the state title.
Playing tennis, he said, was fun and suiting up for soccer gave him the chance to stay active, be part of a team and continue to focus on athletics and academics.
The most memorable part of his time at EHS was being a member of the state championship football team while the most fun was enjoying time with the friends he made on the tennis team.
“This year was really hard to stay motivated,” Lattig admitted of starting his senior year on Zoom and distance learning. Though Escalon students were able to return to in-person learning with a hybrid schedule earlier than any other school district in San Joaquin County, he said it still was a difficult year, tough to remain fully engaged with all the restrictions and distractions.
After graduation, Lattig will attend the University of Idaho, Moscow, where he plans on majoring in animal sciences.
“I am going into the pre-veterinary pathway, but I also may decide to go into the pharmaceutical end of that,” he said, with the final career decision still to be determined.
The CIF Sac-Joaquin Section oversees high school athletics for 198 schools and 225,000 students. Its geographic boundaries stretch from Merced in the south, Grass Valley in the North, Napa to the west and the Nevada state line to the east. The Section is the second largest of California’s 10 athletic sections.
Times Editor Marg Jackson contributed to this story.