Frankie Sanchez, the Senior Male Athlete of the Year, and Stephanie Cantu, the Senior Female Athlete of the Year, were honored May 21 at the annual Spring Athletic Awards Banquet in the school gymnasium.
Each student-athlete earned a lifetime pass to all Tigers home sporting events.
Sanchez is the 19-year-old son of Frankie Sanchez Sr., while Cantu, 17, is the daughter of Marisela Blakeley and Carlos Cantu.
Sanchez was a member of the football, basketball, wrestling and baseball teams during his four years at Patterson High and was usually a starter for each squad.
“It feels unreal to win the award,” Sanchez said. “It wasn’t necessarily a goal of mine, but it’s an honor. It was just me playing sports and doing the things that I love.”
Last season, as Sanchez made contributions at both linebacker and tight end on a Patterson football team that finished 7-4, recorded its seventh consecutive winning season and made the playoffs.
“Any time you make the playoffs, it’s an accomplishment,” Sanchez said.
The Tigers would lose, 48-28, to Pioneer Valley League runner-up Placer High in the first round of the Sac-Joaquin Section Division III playoffs.
Once football season was over, Sanchez began another campaign as the baseball team’s starting catcher.
Following a baseball season in which Patterson put together its first Division IV playoff run in three years, Sanchez was honored with a first-team All-Western Athletic Conference spot. Coach Benji Lozano also named Sanchez the team’s Most Valuable Player.
“Baseball is more of a mental sport,” Sanchez said. “I really enjoy the team bonding and the competitiveness. I tried to lead by example and help others.”
After turning down scholarship offers from Fresno State University, University of Oregon and University of California, Irvine, Sanchez made his college intentions known in April by signing a letter of intent to play baseball for Luther College in Decorah, Iowa.
He also received a prestigious honor in recognition of his excellence in academics and athletics — a full athletic scholarship package to attend the school, where he will study sports medicine.
“It was a hard decision, but I chose to experience college life on my own, away from home,” Sanchez said. “The campus at Luther College is nice — it feels like springtime. Like Patterson, the community (of Decorah) is behind all of their local sports.”
Sanchez’s list of athletic accomplishments began his junior year, when he was named to the WAC’s first team as a linebacker. He was also selected as team co-captain.
In 2010, Patterson tied a program record for most wins in a season during its 11-2 campaign. The Tigers also notched their first 10-game winning streak and claimed the WAC championship, the school’s first outright league title since 1968.
“It wasn’t an individual mindset — we were a team,” Sanchez said. “We worked for everything that we accomplished.”
In his first season in a crimson-and-gray singlet, wrestling as a junior in the 189-pound weight class, Sanchez capped Modesto High’s Big Kat Klassic in the perfect way. He pinned all 10 opponents he faced during the two-day meet and was selected as the tournament’s outstanding heavyweight.
Competing at the Division V section meet at Union Mine High in El Dorado, Sanchez suffered a knee injury and missed out on advancing to the Masters tournament.
“It was hard to watch, and I couldn’t do anything,” Sanchez said. “I wanted to provide leadership and drive.”
Still, Patterson wrestling coach Lee Scoles handed Sanchez his Coach’s Award.
Sanchez said sports motivated him to do well in class, but for inspiration, he has a family that loves to attend games and cheer him on. Being with the team after a big win also makes the hard work worthwhile, he added.
“My dad once told me that sports would be hard and that I wasn’t always going to like playing them,” Sanchez said. “But 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.”
Cantu has played volleyball, basketball and softball during her four years at Patterson High. Three of those years, she was a varsity athlete on the volleyball and basketball teams.
“It was really cool to be chosen for the award,” Cantu said. “There are only two people selected each year, so it’s really an honor. This makes me feel like I really accomplished something during high school.”
This year, as one of Patterson’s top scorers and defenders, Cantu helped lead her basketball team to the postseason after a two-year absence. The Tigers gave a strong effort but were ultimately unable to match Manteca High, losing 62-40 in the first round of the Division III playoffs.
Cantu was named the team’s MVP and co-captain and garnered Patterson girls basketball coach Elizabeth Reza’s Miss Defense Award. She was also voted to the conference’s second team.
“This was the most memorable season of basketball by far,” Cantu said. “Winning made us all really close. We came together as a team. We were all contributors.”
Cantu was also voted to the all-WAC volleyball second team for 2011 and co-captain of the PHS squad.
She played softball for three years and was part of three straight conference championship squads. She earned the Tiger Pride Award as a junior and was selected to the league’s first team as a shortstop.
“It was challenging at times, but we all had the same goals in mind,” Cantu said.
Off the field, Cantu was a scholar-athlete award recipient and one of Patterson High’s 14 valedictorians, maintaining a 4.42 overall GPA, which ranked her No. 1 in her class of 342.
She plans to study engineering at University of California, Los Angeles, beginning this fall.
“It’ll be something new, and there’s so many opportunities to do different things,” Cantu said. “I’ll still be really busy, but I think that college will be fun. Los Angeles is surrounded by everything.”
For her academic efforts, she received a scholarship from the Northern California Scholarship Foundation worth $8,000 per year for four years.
Cantu was also awarded scholarship money as one of 50 winners of the A. Dale Lacky-CSEA Scholarships for outstanding performance in athletics, community service and academics during high school.
Outside of athletics, Cantu was a member of the school’s book club, Advanced Placement chemistry club, AP calculus club and California Scholarship Federation. She volunteers for Patterson Parks and Recreation Department.
Cantu gave credit to her parents and coaches for helping her along the way.
“I couldn’t have done all of this by myself,” Cantu said. “They helped me when I was struggling and they pushed me to be a better person.”