Preston Mattos, this year’s choice among Tracy High coaches for the Jake Longmire Senior Blanket Award, has played three sports — football, basketball and baseball — for all four of his years at Tracy High, and was usually a starter for those teams.
“Being an athlete in high school definitely keeps you focused,” Mattos said, “and makes it mandatory for you to get good grades. It keeps your head on straight. You’ve always got commitments, so you know you can’t let anyone down, your team or yourself. The main thing is, it keeps you on a good path.”
With that in mind, he didn’t have to think much about awards at the start of the school year. Like others on the football team, he knew the team had good players. They just had to see how they would work together.
“We knew we had a lot of talent and a good team, so we had high expectations,” he said.
It turned out to be a successful season with Mattos as the quarterback for the Bulldogs. He was the San Joaquin Athletic Association’s Offensive Player of the Year with 1,575 yards passing in 11 games, including the first round of playoffs against Merced.
After the Merced game, he went right to the basketball court, where he was also a starting guard for the Bulldogs. Once basketball season was over, he began another season as one of the baseball teams’ starting pitchers.
Among his other awards, Mattos received the Army Reserve National Scholar/Athlete Award and the U.S. Marine Corps Distinguished Athlete Award.
With one sports season after another, ever since he played CYO basketball at St. Bernard’s and Tracy Raiders youth football, it’s become hard to imagine life without workouts, league seasons and playoffs.
“Now that I’m going to college and trying to get a start on my career, it will be a little tougher,” he said. “I won’t be playing three sports anymore.”
Mattos will study fire science at Butte Junior College in Chico. He still hasn’t made up his mind on which sport is in his future there, but he has taken a close look at the football team.
Marlene MacMillan has played basketball and has run on the track and field team during her four years at Tracy High. Three of those years have been as a varsity athlete on each team, and in basketball she has made first team all-league every year.
For her efforts, she’s the co-recipient of the John C. Kimball Outstanding Athlete Award for Women.
This year as Tracy’s top scorer and rebounder, she led her team to the second round of the playoffs after the 15th-seeded Bulldogs beat the No. 2-ranked Turlock Bulldogs in a 52-49 Round 1 upset.
In that game, her team proved that a winning attitude, along with clearly defined goals, can carry a team over big obstacles.
“Basketball is all mental. We went in with the mentality that we need to come up with the win and needed to play hard,” she said, adding that if the Turlock players thought it would be an easy win, they were in for a tough lesson.
“We really shocked them, I know that much,” she said.
Until high school, basketball was an informal game, played with friends and neighbors. In her sophomore year, she learned to love the game, in large part because of the seniors on her team who were glad to serve as mentors for a younger player.
She’s going to stay with the game as she heads to California State University, East Bay, in Hayward. This year she also received the U.S. Marine Corps Distinguished Athlete Award among her other honors.
At the end of her senior year, MacMillan heads to the Sac-Joaquin Section track and field masters meet. Her 10th-place finish in the high jump at the section trials assured her of a spot in the finals.
MacMillan said that sports motivate her to do well in class, but for inspiration, she has a family that loves to attend games and cheer her on, and being with her team after a big win also makes the hard work worthwhile.
“I don’t want to let them down, and that keeps me going.”
Danielle Rond, co-recipient of the John C. Kimball Outstanding Athlete Award for Women, has competed in water polo, swimming and wrestling at Tracy High, and she also is active in the equestrian sport of Gymkhana, which she and her horse Hope have competed in for several years.
Once she’s at the University of California, Davis, next year, it will probably be something new again.
“I’ve done these sports all four years,” she said, adding that college sports like rowing or lacrosse interest her.
“I want to try new things and do different sports. I just want to try something new.”
Rond’s four years at Tracy High have given her a chance to be part of the growth of women’s wrestling. During her freshman year, when she kept statistics for the wrestling team, she also took on some of the boys in competition.
Since then, she and her father, Tracy wrestling coach Darryl Rond, have taken advantage of the growing popularity of women’s wrestling, attending more girls tournaments this year than ever.
Danielle said it’s a different sports culture in women’s wrestling. In most league dual meets, she is matched against boys who rely on strength as their advantage over girls, while in girls tournaments, the wrestlers have learned to be more proficient in technique.
Among her other honors this year, Rond received the Denae Marie Dias “True Grit” Wrestling Award.
Workouts on the mat and workouts in the pool are all part of a regimen that Rond figures will help her learn new sports in college.
“It taught me about good time management with high school work and how to be a good sport and work for the team,” she said, adding that she figures it’s natural to put oneself in that role.
“Everyone has what they do. They have their extracurricular activities. I’m just another person doing what I love to do,” she said.
• Contact Bob Brownne at 830-4227 or firstname.lastname@example.org.