SACRAMENTO, CALIF. — Aileen Flynn (Orland High School), Brendan Foster (Arroyo Grande High School), Bianca Peña (Granada Hills Charter High school) and Chase Tarr (Marysville High School) were named the recipients of the prestigious CIF Spirit of Sport Award for 2017 Winter and Spring respectively. The four statewide winners, along with the two Fall recipients, will receive an award, a patch, a $500 scholarship and be recognized at the year-end CIF Federated Council dinner on April 7, in Ontario.
The CIF Spirit of Sport Award recognizes student-athletes who have demonstrated the 16 principles of Pursuing Victory with Honorsm, are active in school and community service and exhibit leadership qualities. The principles of Pursuing Victory with Honorsm are the operating principles of the CIF and have been adopted by the 1,582 member high schools throughout the state.
“The student-athletes throughout California are learning valuable life lessons on the athletic fields and in the gymnasium classrooms that might not be learned in any other environment,” said CIF Executive Director Roger L. Blake. “These recipients have exemplified the Spirit of Sport and reflect the positive elements of Pursuing Victory with Honorsm, reinforcing the value of education-based athletics.”
Aileen Flynn is a three-sport athlete at Orland as a member of the basketball, volleyball and track teams. Additionally, she is a member of the FFA (Future Farmers of America), Key Club and the CSF (California Scholarship Federation) at OHS and spends time volunteering with various organizations in her community.
“I have developed a lot through high school sports, and the most important aspect of that development were the people who I was exposed to along the way,” states Flynn. “They have helped me learn lessons that apply to life in general that I otherwise would have never learned, and they have assisted me in finding my true self.”
“I have seen first-hand the inner drive and determination Aileen has,” said Jason Ovitz, teacher and coach at Orland. “She has overcome obstacles during her high school career with class, with a positive outlook and hard work to get to where she is today. Her behavior and actions on and off the playing surface in volleyball, basketball and track are definitely examples of Pursuing Victory with Honor.”
Orland Athletic Director Jerrod Lloyd adds, “Aileen is truly a leader amongst her peers and proves that athletes can be great on and off the field.”
Brendan Foster is a four-year member of the Arroyo Grande wrestling team. He is also a four-year member of AVID at AGHS. Foster is dedicated to protecting wildlife and their habitats and is involved in environmental efforts to clean-up California parks and trails.
“The mental drive required in wrestling will make a person push themselves beyond what they think is possible and this can help one to succeed in many other things in the future,” states Foster. “There will be both wins and losses which keep a person humble and remind one to always work as hard as they can and give everything their very best. Wrestling is a great reminder that the only way to get better is dedication, practice and to keep looking forward to the future.”
“Brendan is a willing learner and listener on the mat and in the classroom,” stated Arroyo Grande Teacher and Wrestling Coach Kent Hubert. “I’ve seen his drive to excel in class is equal to his determination to succeed athletically. He asks questions, provides insight and opinion, and supports his classmates. He is a respectful, honest, dedicated student-athlete who has a bright future in whatever he chooses.”
Bianca Peña is a three-year member of the Granada Hills Charter High School softball team. She is also involved in her school as a member of the Senior Leadership Council, Make it Happen Club and Operations Gratitude Club. Additionally, she also serves as a camp counselor at her local recreation center and volunteers to service children in need with the Children’s Hunger Fund.
“Sportsmanship is not only respect, but it’s this exact inclusion that needs to be provoked in the lives of everyone,” states Peña. “Athletics have taught me how to deal with opponents with respect and appreciation despite the deep desire to win. Sportsmanship encompasses the ability to look at someone and not instantly judge them in order to grow with them, learn with them and respect them for who they are.”
“I regard Bianca as a very dedicated and hard worker on and off the playing field,” stated Granada Hills Charter Softball Coach Carolyn Gunny. “She is consistent in everything she does from start to finish. Coaching and knowing Bianca has been a fantastic experience for myself.”
City of Los Angeles Parks and Recreation Supervisor adds, “I have never known anyone to be as dedicated, hardworking and as caring as Bianca has shown throughout the years. She embodies what it means to be a passionate individual who works harder than anyone else does and who helps those who are behind her. Bianca is extremely strong and carries herself with a type of charisma that has the potential to inspire others.”
Chase Tarr is a three-sport athlete at Marysville High School participating in baseball, football and basketball and has also served as team captain. Additionally, he is very involved in his school as a member of Link Crew, Yellow Ribbon, Every 15 Minutes, Interact Club and EDGE (Youth Leadership) clubs and activities. He has also served as the school ASB Rally Commissioner for the past two years.
“Good sportsmanship can lead to the development of life skills such as discipline, teamwork, character, honor and fair play,” states Tarr. “An act of sportsmanship towards others can lead to a powerful effect on the individuals around you inspiring them to continue to practice good sportsmanship. Winning is just a bonus when the actual win is growing through sportsmanship.”
“Chase is charismatic and uses his influence toward markedly positive results for the benefit of many; he is an agent for positive change,” praised Marysville Principal Gary Cena.
Marysville Teacher, Athletic Director and Assistant Baseball Coach David Chiono adds, “Chase has been a consistent force in Marysville High School Athletics for the last four years. He has been the leader that makes everyone on the team feel like they are part of the team. He has been the on-field leader that has helped calm emotions when adversity hits.”