Please ensure Javascript is enabled for purposes of website accessibility
Prose and Kohn

ODA athlete's classroom determination lands him on All-Academic state team

Jack Bancroft holds a 4.0 GPA while playing three sports throughout the school year.

ODA senior Jack Bancroft has a 4.0 GPA.
ODA senior Jack Bancroft has a 4.0 GPA.
Courtesy photo
  • East County
  • Sports
  • Share

The Out-of-Door Academy senior Jack Bancroft has experienced a lot in his life. 

The grind of athletes, working through his classes, the pressure of the healthcare field. 

It finally all came together to give Bancroft the perspective he needed in the pursuit of a lofty accomplishment. 

Bancroft was named to the Florida High School Athletic Association's 2023 Florida Dairy Farmers All-Academic state team April 5. Bancroft is one of 24 athletes — 12 boys and 12 girls — to receive the honor this year, and one of two from Manatee County, sitting alongside Saint Stephen's Episcopal senior Bella Rosa.

He holds a 4.0 GPA, fifth-best in ODA's 84-member senior class, and holds varsity letters in football, soccer and lacrosse. Bancroft will receive a $1,700 scholarship and a commemorative medal at a June 5 banquet in Gainesville. 

To receive the scholarship, Bancroft had to fill out an application and write prompted mini-essays on his accomplishments and why he deserved to be selected. Bancroft insisted his essays were "nothing special" and was surprised — but thankful — when he found out he had been selected. 

ODA senior Jack Bancroft (55) played defensive tackle for the school's football team.
File photo

"Getting that praise, it was nice to be acknowledged and awarded something," Bancroft said. "I didn't expect it, but here we are." 

Bancroft was modest about his academic accomplishments, saying schoolwork has always been something that came naturally to him. Only in recent years has he had to put time into studying more complex subjects to keep his grades up, he said, and he was willing to do it despite his busy schedule. 

"Academics were always the priority," Bancroft said. "Results are how you get places in the world. It's starting to pay off now." 

His dedication to his studies shows in his actions, too. Bancroft said that in March he fell behind on work in a few classes, so at the suggestion of his coaches, he took a week away from the lacrosse team to get projects done and keep his grades intact. It was a difficult choice to make as a competitor, he said, but a necessary one. The time away from the field allowed him to recharge his mind for the stretch run. 

Bancroft said going to school for six hours, then going to practice for two hours can take a mental toll after a while, especially when there's still homework and projects to do after you get home. It's why Bancroft's best advice to up-and-coming athletes is to develop strong time management skills. If you can't handle the workload, he said, you're not going to have much fun. 

In addition to his classroom excellence, Bancroft has put in service to his community, giving more than 450 service hours, the majority of which were spent volunteering at Sarasota Memorial Hospital, where both of his parents work in radiology. Bancroft said volunteering at the hospital opened his eyes to the day-to-day stresses of the field, but also how important it is. 

"Working in healthcare, there's a toll that it takes on people," Bancroft said. "You have to make sacrifices. I think it's honorable and noble, and necessary. I'm grateful for the work they do." 

It's a path he will be taking himself. Bancroft will be continuing his education as a pre-med major at the University of South Florida in the fall. Bancroft said it has long been his dream to follow his parents into the medical field, though not into radiology itself. He wants to be more hands-on, he said, perhaps working as a surgeon or in rural medicine. His dream was not deterred by what he witnessed as a hospital volunteer, only enhanced. 

While Bancroft said he may play recreational lacrosse in college to stay active, his competitive sports days are now behind him; the ODA lacrosse team's season came to an end April 11 with a 12-8 loss to Saint Stephen's Episcopal in the district tournament. Bancroft said he has not yet taken much time to reflect on what playing competitive sports has meant to him in high school, but knows his life would be much different without them. 

"I moved here from Orlando before my freshman year," Bancroft said. "I didn't know anybody. I made pretty much all my friends from football. (Joining) it was a huge team-building opportunity. That show me how important being part of a team is to me." 

Bancroft said his favorite athletic memory is the ODA football team's run to the Sunshine State Athletic Conference state title game in 2020. The team had gone 0-4 in the regular season, which was shortened because of COVID-19. Pandemic-related rules allowed every team to reach the playoffs anyway, and ODA won two games in a row to reach the Class A title game. Even though the Thunder would lose 20-19 to Bishop Snyder High in Lakeland, Bancroft, an offensive and defensive lineman, said the experience was unforgettable. 

"We didn't play that well until we actually started showing up and trying," Bancroft said. "To come all that way (from 0-4), it was crazy. It was awesome." 

Bancroft said playing sports taught him many things, but none bigger than the importance of respect. 

"It doesn't matter how skilled you are or someone else is," Bancroft said. "Everyone should show respect because everyone should receive it. It's a team-builder. It can change the world." 



Ryan Kohn

Ryan Kohn is the sports editor for Sarasota and East County and a Missouri School of Journalism graduate. He was born and raised in Olney, Maryland. His biggest inspirations are Wright Thompson and Alex Ovechkin. His strongest belief is that mint chip ice cream is unbeatable.

Latest News