Monticello High School senior student-athletes Joe Schultz and Becca Olson have been nominated for the Powerade Athlete of the Year Award. The award, presented to 10 student finalists, is being given out by Viking Coca-Cola Bottling Company. Each school in the state that partners with Viking was asked to select two athletes to submit for the award.
Schultz and Olson were selected from Monticello and both made it into the top-50 state wide. The 10 finalists, five male and five female, will be determined by online voting. The finalists will be honored as Powerade Athletes of the Year and awarded a $1,000 scholarship.
Athletic Director Gary Revenig said that Schultz and Olson were easy choices for MHS. Revenig met with Ms. Meyer from Interact Club and Ms. Hughes and Ms. Radke from student council, to help select the students to represent Monticello.
“Basically we were looking for a couple of kids who have made a difference in our school,” he said.
Schultz and Olson met that requirement with ease.
“They take time to look out for others and make our school the best school it can be,” said Revenig.
Olson plays volleyball and softball for the Magic and is involved in weight lifting. Outside of sports and the classroom her time is dedicated to a number of activities including Interact Club, Project 4 Teens, Ninth Grade Mentorship Program and National Honor Society.
She said she was thrilled just to be nominated, and then to make it to the top-25 females to boot.
“I was super excited, super honored too, to be a part of that,” said Olson.
The senior said that her involvement in programs like Interact and Project 4 Teens comes from a love for helping others.
“I love volunteering,” she said. “I want to join the Peace Corps when I’m older so this is a good testing the waters for me.”
She is currently in her second year as President of the Interact Club, meaning she’s the go-to person for anyone that has questions within or about the club. She said she loves the responsibility that comes with heading up an organization that donates its time and services to projects such as Feed My Starving Children, Secondhand Harvest, and more.
“I love being president, and kind of overseeing everything,” she said. “Putting more time and effort into something I love is just great.”
Olson said that her time in sports helped her see not everything is about her, something that has led her down the path of volunteering.
“I love team sports,” she said. “In volleyball and softball, you’re relying on other people. It’s never about me, it’s just about the whole team effort.”
In the athletic arena, Olson was a part of a volleyball team that showed strong improvement this year and tied a program-record by making it to the section semifinal round.
“We really had so much fun this year,” she said. “It was just great. Our team wasn’t just a team it was a family.”
At the top of her individual athletic highlights is hitting a home run in softball last year.
But for Olson it is about much more than individual highlights, and about more than sports. It’s about giving back and finding any way possible to help others.
“Everything you do in those organizations, it just opens your eyes to something bigger,” she said. “I’ve learned to put others first … and that you just have to give more than you take.”
Schultz is a two-sport athlete at MHS, competing in basketball and track and field. The senior was a member of the state tournament basketball squad last year, and turned in a very successful track and field season in his first year out for the sport.
But where he’s really made his mark at MHS is outside of the field of competition. Schultz, a three-year member of MHS Student Council, lost a close friend at MHS to suicide last winter. He said the following months were excruciatingly painful and difficult. By the time late spring rolled around, he and a few other students had decided they wanted to channel their emotions into making a difference at the high school. Schultz, Ariel Parnell, Keenan Macki and Jamie Axelberg got together and came up with the idea for The Rise, a student-led mentorship group focused on mental health. Zack Turner is also a student leader for the group now.
“We figured at the end of the year, something needed to happen,” said Schultz. “We took the liberty of putting together our own proposal, meeting with the counselors and top officials at the high school to see if we could get this started. We got word at end of August we were good to go.”
This fall, approximately 90 students signed up to receive text updates for the group. Of those 90, The Rise gets an average of 40 students that attend weekly meetings held during the lunch hour.
“We meet every Wednesday,” said Schultz. “We’ll have a speaker about mental health come in, or motivational stuff. We’ll play games. Just so kids can come in and be kids and not have to worry about the stresses of school and life and work and any of that. It’s a support group too. If anyone, per se, was really struggling in their life, they can come to us. We will lead them in the direction to get the help that they’ll need.”
So far, Schultz and the group have been getting very positive feedback.
“We’ve had really good feedback from speakers that come in, that they love what we’re doing,” he said. “Counselors think this is a really great idea – it helps them to know what students need.”
Each meeting is something a little different and a little new in The Rise. One day they decorated pumpkins, another they played Bingo. But each meeting is dedicated to the cause of making a difference when it comes to mental health and suicide awareness, and making sure every student knows they always have someone to turn to.
“If I could help anyone, even if it’s just one person, that would mean the world to me,” said Schultz.
The finalists will be chosen via online voting at www.vikingcocacola.com/community/powerade-athletes-voting. Voters are allowed to vote once per day for one male and one female student. Voting is open now and will conclude on Nov. 21. The 10 student finalists that are chosen will be awarded as Powerade Athletes of the Year and will receive $1,000. Revenig figures it will be a competitive vote that comes down to the final days.
“We’re going to do everything we can at the high school to get them the recognition because we appreciate everything they’re doing for our school,” he said. “Hopefully our community and school can rally around each of these outstanding individuals.”
Contact Clay Sawatzke at [email protected]