The SJVA athletes have both been Student Athletes of the Year, two years running
■ By Corey Evan / Sports Reporter
Someone once said that lightning never strikes twice in the same place, but that’s obviously not true because it has at San Jacinto Valley Academy. There, students Noah Fitzpatrick and Kalianna Lesa have been named SJVA Student Athletes of the Year for two consecutive years!
The winning pair was nominated to our MVP Spotlight by SJVA Athletic Director Charlie Ilardi and his team: “In order to even qualify [for Athlete of the Year], you have to have at least a 3.0 GPA, and you have to play at least two varsity sports.”
Each of Ilardi’s coaches nominates a player for the award, and final selections are made by a vote of SJVA teachers and administration, keeping the selection process fair. But according to Ilardi: “They’re captains on all of the teams they play on, they have way more than a 3.0…they’re honor roll students, and they’re just great leaders in the classroom and with their specific teams!”
Fitzpatrick, who graduates this month, won the past two years for the boys and plans to live his purpose in sports analytics at Cal Baptist University.
“I’ve been playing sports ever since I was young; I played baseball and T-ball and soccer and basketball,” he said. “Every year I’ve played sports.”
Fitzpatrick says his dad, a San Jacinto High alumnus, has been among his strongest influences, having been coached by him, as well as his brother, who is two-and-a-half years older (and also a two-time SJVA athlete of the year!). His mom also played volleyball, so one can tell this is an athletic family to the core!
Lesa, a junior, also won the award in her freshman and sophomore years and one day hopes to pursue a spot on the U.S. Olympic team or a career in physical therapy. Lesa says her dad was a very strong influence, athletically. “Everyone in my family, we’re all involved in some sport.” And while her dad never graduated high school, she is set to graduate next year!
Do you have a student athlete to nominate for our MVP Spotlight? If so, reach Corey Evan at 760 270-5625 or firstname.lastname@example.org.