LAKEWOOD RANCH — Across campus, Lakewood Ranch seniors Kaitlyn Wolfe and Alec Bacon are known for their performances on the field and in the pool.
Their school records and district and regional titles speak for themselves, but it’s what these two have been able to do academically that has caught the attention of their fellow classmates, coaches and teachers.
Bacon, who spent four years swimming for the Mustangs, is ranked No. 1 in his class with a 4.6 grade-point average. And with a 4.5833 GPA, Wolfe, a member of both the girls soccer and track and field teams, isn’t far behind at No. 2.
And on May 10, Bacon and Wolfe were recognized for their academic achievements during the school’s annual Scholar Athlete Banquet at Bayside Community Church. Bacon was named the Male Athlete of the Year, while Wolfe took home Female Athlete of the Year honors.
“I feel honored,” Wolfe said. “It’s nice to be recognized for working so hard in the classroom. It’s nice to be rewarded.”
“It feels good to be recognized for the hard work you put in and to see it pay off,” Bacon said.
Bacon and Wolfe weren’t the only two Lakewood athletes recognized for their academic achievements. In total, 313 athletes were awarded for maintaining above a 3.5 GPA, which accounts for 62% of the school’s overall number of athletes.
Last year, the school recognized 298 scholar athletes.
“It’s ridiculous; I’ve never heard of anything that compares to that,” Athletic Director Shawn Trent said. “The school is very academic to begin with, and I also think you get that family mentality in the area that’s academically oriented. And the coaches do a good job.
“I think it’s a combination of a lot of things,” he said. “It’s almost expected out of our kids to keep their grades up. It’s incredible, (especially) given the fact that our sports do as well as they do athletically. I think that’s what so rare about this school — that combination of being competitive and doing well enough to win on the field (and in the pool) and (yet) at the same time doing well academically.”
Boys swimming was named the small sports team of the year with a 3.961 team GPA, while the girls soccer team was named the large sports team of the year with a combined 4.018 team GPA.
In recognition of their achievements, the students were awarded a fleece scholar athlete blanket, a patch for their letterman’s jacket and a T-shirt.
“The athletes at this school are really motivated and take pride in not only what they do on the field, on the track or in the pool, but also in getting stuff squared away with school as well,” Bacon said.
Between the two, Bacon and Wolfe are taking a combined nine AP classes, including statistics, calculus, English literature and government, among others. And the two don’t plan on losing their academic focus anytime soon.
Bacon has accepted an appointment to the United States Naval Academy, where he plans to study systems engineering. Wolfe is headed to Georgia Tech University on an academic scholarship, where she plans to study biomedical engineering.
“I had to put academics first,” said Wolfe, who chose academics over athletics. “I got a scholarship for academics, so I had to prioritize.
“I think it’s great what they do for the scholar athletes,” she said. “It’s an incentive to work hard. I think (overall) athletes tend to be successful people. You get a lot of good qualities from athletics that you can apply to your schoolwork. Athletes have the drive to succeed and win; and they know that in order to win and succeed, you have to work hard.”
Contact Jen Blanco at [email protected].