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East County Athlete of the Week: Jack Taraska

The ODA football senior has set a program record with five interceptions in his first year of the sport.

ODA senior defensive back Jack Taraska.
ODA senior defensive back Jack Taraska.
Photo by Ryan Kohn
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Jack Taraska is a senior on The Out-of-Door Academy football team. Taraska, who is also on the ODA baseball team, has set a program record with five interceptions in his first year playing tackle football. The Thunder (5-5) will host the Sunshine State Athletic Association Class 4A state championship game against Lighthouse Private Christian Academy (4-5) at 7 p.m. Nov. 10. 

Why did you decide to play football this season?

Over the offseason I went to a workout day with all the athletes at ODA. Coach (Rob) Hollway was there. He and a few of the guys on the team were telling me I should give it a shot. I said I would think about it. The day before the first preseason practice, I decided to play, so I had to go buy a pair of cleats. 

What has this season been like for you?

It has been even more fun than I thought it would be to play with these guys, especially my brother (senior linebacker Chase Taraska). I'm glad I joined. I think I would have been upset if I had not played. 

What is your best skill on the field?

Reading the quarterback and reading the ball in the air to track it down. I'm an outfielder in baseball, so it makes sense to me. I can go after the ball. 

What is your favorite moment from this season?

The last game against St. Edward's High (4-6) was definitely the most exciting. It was a high-pressure game. We fell behind 14-0 early but we started making plays and came back to win 41-21. It was fun to be part of that comeback.

What is the key to success against Lighthouse Private Christian?

For me, I just need to stay hydrated and prevent cramping. I also need to stay over the top and not let anyone get behind me and make tackles. 

What is your favorite food?

I love steak. I like it medium rare the best but at restaurants I'll order it medium just to be safe. 

What is your favorite TV show?

I like "Suits," but I like a lot of TV. I like being able to watch a bunch of episodes in a row and then switching it up. 

What are your hobbies?

Sports take a lot of my time, but I like going to the gym when I can. Other than that, I'm usually hanging with my family or my friends. 

What is your favorite school subject?

I have always enjoyed math. I am confident with numbers. 

Which superpower would you pick?

I think I would pick flying. I would use it to get around everywhere. It

 would also just be cool. 

What is the best advice you have received?

Play 100% every game. When you look back on high school later in life, you're going to wish you had those times back, so make sure you do your best while you have the chance. 

Finish this sentence: "Jack Taraska is …"

Motivated. I'm always trying to reach my goals and do the best I can in anything I'm doing. 



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.

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