How a scholar athlete banquet was resurrected after pandemic

In the class of excellent information day, nothing deserves extra consideration and reward than the comeback story of 2023.

The COVID-19 pandemic got here near wiping out the San Fernando Valley chapter of the National Football Foundation and College Hall of Fame, the group that honors the highest scholar athletes from every highschool yearly with a banquet and recognition of their accomplishment.

The final one came about in 2019.

“It killed us,” chairman Jim Lufthal mentioned.

The group’s membership dropped to 6 individuals with no banquets for 3 years.

Enter Simi Valley High soccer coach Jim Benkert, who has change into president of the group. The 2022 scholar athletes are getting their banquet on Monday night time on the Odyssey Restaurant in Granada Hills, with former San Fernando High and USC star Anthony Davis among the many audio system.

Every banquet affords perception for the long run group leaders. These gamers are the very best of the very best when it comes to teachers, athletics and management.

Take the case of Taft linebacker Caden Cowles, who has a 4.5 grade-point common and is a black belt in Taekwondo.

“He was the cliche coach on the field,” former Taft coach Jeff Kearin mentioned. “I will work for that kid some day.”

An aspiring aerospace engineer with tutorial acceptance letters from USC, Florida Tech and Purdue, Cowles mentioned enjoying soccer taught him invaluable classes.

“I was captain for two years,” he mentioned. “It helped me build a lot of confidence. It taught me to never give up, always try harder, always try to improve, make myself better, make the experiment better. You build relationships. It’s like building a family.”

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Cowles was a longtime Boy Scout who needed to cease making an attempt to change into an Eagle Scout after COVID-19 disruptions, however he and the 41 different gamers to be honored can take consolation in that they obtained to renew their soccer days, expertise victories and defeats, and saved targeted on their tutorial objectives.

Among the honorees are seniors who volunteered to be election observers and youth coaches for the Special Olympics, labored at McDonald’s and as referees.

Josh Dixon of Studio City Harvard-Westlake performs bass in a band, works at a household automotive wash, has a 3.9 GPA and is headed to UCLA to play linebacker. Gabriel Argott of Granada Hills Kennedy was a standout working again whereas working half time in development. Burbank Burroughs’ consultant, Marcus Manahan, is the senior class president.

There are few banquets that produce extra future medical doctors, attorneys, policemen, troopers, businessmen, academics and group leaders.

It is inspiring that Benkert has used his organizing expertise to assist resurrect the San Fernando Valley chapter and recruit extra members to be a part of a bunch that’s making comebacks in different areas round Southern California to honor the good scholar athletes that exist at so many faculties. The Los Angeles chapter is holding its banquet later this month at SoFi Stadium.

As somebody who has attended the scholar athlete banquets for many years, I’ve at all times questioned which honoree may at some point save me as a paramedic or athletic coach, greet me on a avenue to supply help, find yourself flying an F-16 fighter jet to guard our nation, or uncover a treatment for most cancers.

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They actually are difference-makers.

So please seat me near Cowles, the black belt and future inventor.

Asked whether or not classmates find out about his Taekwondo expertise, Cowles mentioned, “It’s not something I advertise. I present myself in a nice manner where no one would want to attack me.”