Joey Howard, the Senior Male Athlete of the Year, and Shantel Perez, the Senior Female Athlete of the Year, were honored May 22 at the annual Spring Athletic Awards Night in the school gymnasium.
Each student-athlete earned a lifetime pass to all Tigers home sporting events.
Howard is the 17-year-old son of Chris and Tammy Howard. Perez, 18, is the daughter of Jose and Cora Perez.
Howard was a member of the football, cross country, wrestling and tennis teams during his four years at Patterson High and was usually a starter for each squad.
“To me, the award represents all of the hard work and dedication that I put into all of my athletics,” Howard said. “I devoted a lot of my time to being successful in my passions, and I just feel like the award is the peak of my career at Patterson High School.”
Last season, Howard made contributions on a Patterson varsity boys cross country team that finished 4-1, enough for a third-place team showing in the Western Athletic Conference.
Coach Dave Klein also named Howard, a three-year varsity runner, the team’s co-captain.
Once cross country season was over, Howard began another campaign as the varsity wrestling team’s co-captain, winning a WAC title in the 145-pound weight division.
Following a junior year that was shortened by a broken bone in his leg, Howard took on the best the area had to offer March 1 at the Sac-Joaquin Section Masters Tournament but fell short of the state meet, finishing 2-2 overall in the 145-pound bracket.
Coach Lee Scoles gave Howard, a four-year varsity grappler, the Coach Worley Award, which was instituted in 1998 in honor of longtime Patterson High wrestling coach Mike Worley.
The award goes to a senior who possesses the attributes a coach wants in his wrestlers, such as “work ethic, leadership, character and integrity,” Scoles explained.
In his first season as a member of the varsity boys tennis team, Howard helped Patterson make its first appearance in the SJS Division II playoffs on April 29.
But the day ended in heartbreak for the No. 2 seed Tigers, as visiting No. 3 seed Whitney High of Rocklin won two of three doubles matches to rally for a 5-4 victory.
Howard’s list of athletic accomplishments began his freshman year, when he was a part of the Tigers WAC championship freshman football team.
That year, Howard also put forth an impressive performance at the WAC wrestling tournament, qualifying for the SJS Division IV championship, a feat he would repeat for two of the next three seasons.
Competing at the Masters Tournament March 1 at Stockton Arena, Howard earned the second of two season victories over rival 145-pounder Devon Kelly of Modesto’s Central Catholic High. He considers the wins some of his fondest memories in a crimson-and-gray singlet.
“It was the greatest feeling in the world knowing that I beat him. It was an amazing experience,” Howard said.
Off the field, Howard was a scholar-athlete award recipient, maintaining a 3.8 overall GPA. He plans to study criminal justice and wrestle at Sacramento State University, beginning this fall.
”I want to be involved in the criminal justice field because I want to be able to protect and serve my community, and help provide a safe society for them,” Howard said.
Howard thanked all of his coaches for their support and guidance, especially assistant wrestling coach Juan Gonzalez.
“He has always taught me how to have a positive attitude in wrestling and to always put in hard work to achieve your goals,” Howard said.
He 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, Howard added.
“Some of the influential people in my life include my parents and my (older) brother Ricky,” Howard said. “They always push me to be my best in whatever I do, whether it is work, sports or academics. They want me to be successful.”
Perez has played basketball and soccer during her four years at Patterson High. Three of those years, she was a varsity athlete on the basketball team, and she was a four-year starter who never missed a game on the varsity soccer team.
“I have played sports since I was 4 years old and I don’t remember ever being this happy to receive an award,” Perez said. “Once I heard my name (called), my heart instantly dropped and I felt a sudden urge of excitement. The feeling was utterly indescribable.”
This year, as one of Patterson’s top passers and defenders, Perez helped her basketball team wrap up its regular season as the undefeated WAC champion, the first conference title for the Tigers since the 2009-10 season, and the first undefeated league campaign for the program since 1978.
Riding a 13-game winning streak, the Tigers rallied in the second half and beat visiting Oakmont High of Roseville 68-61 in the first round of the SJS Division III playoffs, the program’s first postseason victory since 2003.
Patterson eventually lost against Placer High of Auburn in the second round of the Division III playoffs, following a 58-44 defeat.
On March 11, during a Winter Athletic Awards Night in the school gymnasium, Perez was named the team’s co-captain by coach Elizabeth Tolleson.
On the pitch, Perez helped Patterson win two WAC titles in three seasons (2010 and 2012), and was also voted to the all-WAC soccer second team for 2010 and 2011, before receiving first-team honors May 2.
Inside the classroom, Perez maintained a 3.5 overall GPA. She plans to study kinesiology at California State University, Stanislaus in Turlock beginning this fall.
“I wanted to study something that I already had some passion for,” Perez said. “I have not yet decided if I want to play sports in college, but I do think for my first year, I will be trying to focus on school.”
Her mother continues to be a huge source of support and encouragement, Perez said.
“She taught me to never give up when I start something, and to always finish strong, and always be true to yourself, and I can accomplish anything I put my mind too,” Perez said.
She also gave credit to her basketball coaches for helping her along the way.
“Those people taught me to always work hard to be who I want to be,” Perez said. “They never gave up on me during the three seasons they had me on their team and still haven’t given up on me.”
Perez noted that she will miss her teammates from high school but is excited for the new opportunities college has to offer.
“As graduation is approaching for many of us, we won’t hold onto the winning seasons, but we will always remember the individual triumphs and the great moments that we shared,” Perez said. “I will always remember, not being with my team, but being with my second and third families. They will all always be my sisters.”
Contact Marc Aceves at 892-6187, ext. 28, or firstname.lastname@example.org.