Inspiration and dedication were recognized at the final sports awards night of the school year, as Escalon High School presented its outstanding senior athlete awards.
The Hall-Loureiro Most Inspirational senior athletes selected were Kaitlynn Mayfield and Adam Roberson, while the Lloyd C. Engel Outstanding senior athlete awards went to Leone Rivers and Matthew Gallego.
Escalon Athletic Director Mark Loureiro made the announcement of the awards at the June 2 program, offering some thoughts on each of the four honorees.
“This young lady is a silent leader on the teams that she plays on,” he noted of Kaitlynn Mayfield. “She inspires others by her hard work and dedication toward her sports.”
Mayfield was touted by one coach as ‘the glue that holds all the pieces together’ and she was active in golf, basketball and tennis while attending Escalon High.
“Kaitlynn is awesome,” agreed golf coach Rusty Fachner. “She is one of the toughest competitors I have ever had the pleasure to coach. The inspiration that Kaitlynn provides others comes from the fact that she truly enjoys playing the game and being with her teammates.
“But when times are their toughest, that’s when she bears down and kicks it into another gear. Others see that and build on that.”
Fachner added that the athlete also was self-motivated, always seeking to do her best.
“Her junior year she missed making all-league by a mere four points,” Fachner noted. “She said to me at the beginning of her senior year, “I will be all-league this year...count on it.” Then she went out and did it. And, in the process she helped us attain team success by winning the TVL championship. That’s inspiration.”
For her part, Mayfield – who hopes to continue playing sports in college – said it was great to be involved with so many teams.
“It’s not work to me,” she explained. “Sports were fun, it was work when I had to get home to do my school stuff.”
She plans to start college at MJC and study communications and speech pathology, hoping to play golf and tennis for the Pirates.
Adam Roberson became an unexpected model of courage and inspiration this year – diagnosed with colon cancer and going through treatments following football season – making it back from those treatments in time to get on the baseball field.
Loureiro, who coached Roberson in football, said it would have been easy for him to let down, but that was not in his nature.
“He is a standout athlete in both our football and baseball programs,” Loureiro said. “Sometimes when things go bad, many of us will give up or play the “poor me” card. This young man has taught us as athletes and adults the true meaning of perseverance.
“I have given this award the last 20 years and no one deserves this inspirational award more than Adam Roberson.”
A four-year football and baseball player for the Cougars, Roberson said he didn’t anticipate the award.
“I was honestly kind of shocked,” he said.
But, considering what he has been through this year, and his dedication to his teams throughout his school career, it was well deserved.
“It gave me a reality check, kind of opened my eyes,” Roberson said of the cancer diagnosis. “I value things more.”
He also said his best memories of sports at EHS are those made with teammates, bonding and becoming a family.
“I know I can always count on them,” he said of teammates helping see him through good times and bad.
Headed to MJC, Roberson wants to study radiology and said he will look into playing baseball there next spring.
Baseball coach Greg Largent said Roberson epitomized the word warrior.
“What he had to overcome just to get out on the field is a tremendous thing,” Largent said. “We were better when he was out there. He was enthusiastic, honorable, trustworthy, motivating … perhaps one of the most inspirational human beings I have ever been around.
“He’s a true warrior.”
The Lloyd C. Engel Outstanding Athletes were also recognized, Leone Rivers active in cross country and track and field, while Matthew Gallego did football, wrestling and track and field.
Loureiro said Rivers was “not only the top athlete in sports, but also in the classroom” due to her work ethic, determination and leadership.
“She has qualified the last two years at the Masters both in cross country and track. As our seniors graduate we lose a tremendous role model for our female athletes,” Loureiro said. “She is one who will go on to college, excel at all her challenges and make Escalon High proud of her.”
Rivers said the cross country team annual training weekend at Bear River was a highlight and she has good memories of being involved in both sports.
“My teammates made it fun,” she said, adding that they pushed each other to be better, to keep working.
Rivers plans to attend UC Davis where she will study music and she is also looking into competing in the heptathlon.
Music teacher Jason Ryan had both Rivers and Gallego all four years of high school, noting their dedication to sports was matched by their dedication in all areas of the school experience. Each took pre-period for four years, starting their school day at 7:05 a.m.
“Matthew and Leone were incredible students to have in both jazz and concert band for all four years. Leone is a very talented percussionist who participated in the SJCMEA Honor Band for six years (7-12th grade). She is also leader, having served as our drum major this year,” Ryan explained. “Matthew is also a talented musician, playing saxophone and clarinet in jazz and concert band.
“However, these two truly shine in their desire to make the EHS Bands better. When Matthew saw that we needed another sousaphone player in marching band, he picked one up and learned it on the spot. When Leone saw that we needed more trumpets in jazz band, she took one home, learned it, and pulled double duty playing both trumpet and drum set. I am proud of Matt and Leone and they will be missed at EHS.”
Gallego came into his own this year, putting all the pieces together to close out an outstanding high school career.
“He has a great work ethic, his motor is always on,” said Loureiro, who coached Gallego during the football season. “He has had a great senior year, being all-TVL in three sports and going on to the Masters in two of them. He has made a lasting impression on all his coaches.”
Track and field got Gallego’s vote for his favorite sport, because it affords him the opportunity to be involved in many events. He also was surprised that he received the outstanding athlete award.
“I never thought I would get it,” he admitted. “It makes me feel awesome.”
He may continue sports in college, weighing that option, and will start at MJC where he will study criminal justice.