Bear River’s Colton Jenkins, FLC’s Amber Jackson named The Union’s Prep Athletes of the Year
When it comes to athletics, Amber Jackson can pretty much do it all. And, she did it with grace, skill, intensity, determination and humility.
Jackson, who recently graduated at Forest Lake Christian, wrapped up her amazing four-year high school athletic career with a stellar senior season that included a Sac-Joaquin Section championship in basketball, a trip to the Section title game in volleyball and lots of accolades.
While at FLC, Jackson played on the soccer team, volleyball team, basketball team, competed in track and field and ran cross-country. She shined in every arena.
“I find joy and happiness from doing any activity or sport,” Jackson said.
For her efforts during the 2019-20 school year, Jackson is The Union’s Female Prep Athlete of the Year.
In the fall of 2019 she ran cross-country and played on the volleyball team. She helped the Lady Falcons volleyball team win a share of the Central Valley California League title and reach the Section’s Division VI championship game. In cross-country she won the CVCL 5K title.
In the winter season, Jackson led the Lady Falcons hoops squad to their third straight league title and first Section championship since 2005. She rarely left the court, scoring 20.5 points, grabbing 5.8 rebounds and nabbing 5.7 steals per game. She was named the CVCL MVP for a second straight season, and was named to the Optimist All Star Game.
In soccer, Jackson’s top sport, she led FLC to the D-VI championship match in 2019. FLC lost, 3-2, but Jackson scored two goals in the contest against an undefeated Western Sierra team that had allowed just four goals all season up to that game.
During her junior season of track and field, Jackson nabbed league and Section championships in several events, including the 800-meter and 1,600. The 2020 soccer season and track and field seasons were cut short due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Most of my favorite memories in high school have been from sports, for sure,” she said. “Every season had its challenges and different pros and cons. I will remember high school sports forever because all the coaches and teammates made it so fun.”
In addition to her on the court ability, she also shined off it. Jackson was presented the Sac-Joaquin Section Spirit of Sport Award in February. The award recognizes student-athletes who display exemplary sportsmanship, school/community service and leadership. She also was named a recipient of the Section’s A. Dale Lackey Scholarship. The award, named after the former Sac-Joaquin Section and CIF state president, is based on not only outstanding athletic performance but academic achievement and community service.
“Amber is freakishly athletic,” said FLC girls basketball coach John McDaniel. “She’s hard to handle defensively and offensively for other teams. She just creates so much havoc on the court. She can pretty much take the ball to the hole whenever she feels like it. She’s just a force on both sides of the court.”
Jackson is set to attend Oregon State University in the fall, where she plans to play for the school’s soccer team as well as compete in track and field. She plans to study nutrition and sports physiology.
MALE PREP ATHLETE
Colton Jenkins is The Union’s Male Prep Athlete of the Year. The recent Bear River grad was a standout for the Bruins on the football field and baseball diamond.
“(Sports) meant keeping my grades up, that’s for sure,” Jenkins said. “But, it also meant a family. I’ve kept all my friends I played sports with. Those are my closest friends.”
In the fall, Jenkins did a little bit of everything on the gridiron to help the Bruins football team reach playoffs. The team captain played quarterback, running back and receiver on offense, cornerback on defense and returned kickoffs on special teams. He was named to the All-Pioneer Valley League Defensive First Team. As a junior, Jenkins also earned all-league honors and helped the Bruins reach the Section’s D-V title game.
Jenkins was also a team captain on the baseball team, where he was one of the team’s top pitchers and a force at the plate with a bat in his hand. The baseball season was cut short just nine games in due to the pandemic. Jenkins had six hits, two doubles, seven runs scored and three stolen bases at the time the season was called. He was named to the 2020 Optimist All Star Game. A season ago, Jenkins helped the Bruins make a spirited run to the Section’s D-V baseball championship series.
“If I could describe Colton in a word, it’d be ‘versatile,’” said Bear River baseball coach Eric Van Patten. “He’s an athlete inside and out. His versatility on the mound to catching to playing up the middle, he demonstrated strength at every position we placed him in. In addition, he brought maturity to the lineup, maturity to our club. He brought a fight, a vitality to not give up.”
Jenkins is planning to attend Butte College, where he hopes to find a spot in the baseball team and study criminal justice.
Jenkins and Jackson agreed on the biggest life lesson learned through sport.
“Working hard is what gets you into a good position,” Jenkins said.
Jackson added, “if you want to get good, you have to put in the work, but you will be rewarded for that.”
To contact Sports Editor Walter Ford, call 530-477-4232 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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