Two student athletes who exemplify the West High ethos of hard work, discipline and integrity were honored Tuesday night at the school’s senior awards night.
Seniors Alexia Croffet and Frank Adam Castellano are the Wolf Pack’s Athletes of the Year for 2019.
Croffet has been a team leader for basketball and track and field since her freshman year. At first she was surprised to receive the award, but then she considered how devoted she was to both sports, serving as team captain and receiving MVP recognition, including four years as a basketball MVP. She realized that Wolf Pack athletics has been a cornerstone of her life for the past four years.
“When I think about it, I’m like, it was kind of crazy when I was doing it. I was so goal-driven that it didn’t really matter what happened,” she said. “I love track so it wasn’t like a chore or something hard. I liked to do it. It was the same with school. I enjoy school so it wasn’t hard.”
As a team captain, her advice to younger athletes was to never lose sight of the importance of academics.
“I remember my freshman year, I was so focused on doing track and basketball that my grades started going down, so make sure you balance it out,” she said.
She added that West High provides valuable mentors, including track and field coach T.J. Williams.
“There’s a lot that’s prepared me, like Coach T.J. said, our hard work, discipline and integrity has really helped, and being a team captain really encouraged me to step up.”
She received the Athlete of the Year award just a few hours after she signed her letter of intent to attend California State University, Sacramento to study nursing on an athletic scholarship for track and field. Triple jump is her best event, and she also competes in long jump, sprints and relays.
“At first I didn’t think I’d get a scholarship because I didn’t think I was that good at triple jump, but clearly Sac saw the potential in me, so that’s a big deal for me,” she said.
Her high school athletics career continues this weekend at the Sac-Joaquin Section Masters meet in Davis, where she will compete in the triple jump, long jump and 100-meter dash today and tomorrow.
Castellano distinguished himself over four years at West High as a football player and thrower on the Wolf Pack track and field team. He found inspiration as he got to know other athletes on those teams and didn’t suppose that he would be the one picked for the top award for West seniors.
“I was surprised, because there were a lot of other kids who could have got this award. I’m just excited that it was me,” he said.
Castellano valued his role on the football team, where he was selected twice for the all-Tri-City Athletic League first team, as a lineman in his junior year and as a fullback in his senior year.
“It’s been a tough ride all four years for football, not having the best seasons but still getting through it. It made me more of a leader,” he said, adding that one of the big lessons for student athletes is learning to excel on the field and in the classroom: “How to be an adult, to manage my time and get my work done on time, and make sure I’m on top of that.”
He also continues his track and field season this weekend, competing in the shot put and discus at the SJS Masters meet.
Castellano plans to attend Modesto Junior College, where he will play football and study criminal justice, with a career goal of joining the California Highway Patrol.