Throughout their four years of high school, seniors Carlos Emiliano Carrillo-Gallegos and Nicole Nguyen have dedicated their time and energy to their respective sports while maintaining satisfactory grades, and were thus awarded as Athletic Scholars. Keith Jones, the athletic director, gave a short speech for each winner during the Academic Pep Rally.
“I do [think my hard work paid off] because it was four years of going to practice every day, becoming as good as I can be in cross country and track, while also maintaining academics as high as I could keep them,” Carrillo-Gallegos said. “So it was a lot of pain and the award was a validation for that.”
Over the course of his high school years, Carrillo-Gallegos accumulated a 4.7 GPA, was the Most Valuable Player (MVP) of 2016-17, and received second place in league finals in cross country and track.
“I think athletics is a way for me to take a break from the school, because the two hours [of] practice after school of not doing work freshens up my brain,” Carrillo-Gallegos said. “I sacrificed a lot of fun and social life things to do this but I think it’s worth it in the long run.”
Nguyen racked up a 4.3 GPA, was the Best Defensive Player of 2014-17, MVP of 2017-18, and awarded the first team Almont League of 2017-18 in volleyball.
“I learned to set priorities—school was always my first but I wanted to have some fun too, so I took up volleyball and it became a sport I fell in love with,” Nguyen said. “When it comes to something you love and something that’s important, you’ll manage to find the time for both.”
Nguyen reminisced how far she had become with the help of Chris Kwan, former volleyball coach and physical education teacher, and felt thankful that he put her in the team.
“If Chris Kwan had cut me during the first two tryouts, I would just be that girl that did no extracurricular [activities],” Nguyen said. “He gave me an opening, and I was able to make the most of it through his guidance and also Mr. Kanow’s, [former volleyball coach and physics teacher].”
They both believe that the most important people who helped them grow as an athlete and student are their coaches.
“Steve Morales instills in all of his runners the value of work ethic and grinding,” Carrillo-Gallegos said. “I was not only able to apply that to cross country and track but [also] in my classes and extracurricular activities and life in general.”