The path to becoming a successful adult after high school isn’t easy to accomplish without the help of family, friends, teachers and a community that wants to see every student become the best they can be.
Every year at Bear River High 18 student athletes that epitomize what it is to work hard, study hard and be a positive example to others, are honored throughout the school year as Bear River High Student Athletes of the Month.
From September to May, two students (one male and one female) are picked each month from nominations from coaches and given the chance to accept a $2,000 scholarship awarded to two of those 18 students at the end of the year. This year two soon-to-be BRHS graduates earned the title of Student Athlete of the Year on May 21, at an awards banquet held at the high school.
This year’s Student Athletes of the Year went to Cole Croney and Whitnie Burton.
Whitnie, a senior at BRHS, maintained a 3.984 grade point average while taking upper division and college courses and competing in sports at the same time. She was nominated by Bear River’s head softball coach, Calvin Bingham.
“She has high goals and expectations for herself,” Bingham wrote. “She will always be successful in life because of her self-discipline and hardworking attitude.”
Bear River High’s Athletic Director, Van Park, added his thoughts.
Park taught Whitnie in high school and said this about her, “She always came to class with a smile, a friendly hello and was ready to work.”
Cole is a multi-sport athlete who excelled in football and soccer while maintain a 3.9 GPA in the classroom. His football coach at BRHS, Coach Chris Wise, said he “was a joy to coach.”
“He is never down and he has been an outstanding example of grace under pressure,” Wise added.
Park also added his thoughts. “It is easy to tell by how his teammates respond to him that he is a great teammate and one that everyone respects and gravitates to,” he said.
The banquet also features a keynote speaker, always an alumni of BRHS. This year’s speaker was the youngest in the program’s history was there to offer her words of wisdom and what it feels like to take on the world one softball field at a time.
Jordan Theurer, a 2013 BRHS graduate, is perhaps one of the most accomplished softball players to grace the Bear River softball field. She earned the state’s top awards and titles including the Deseret News’ Ms. Softball recognition and Gatorade Player of the Year. Jordan took her talent to Southern Utah University in Cedar City, Utah, and played for the Thunderbirds. She related her success, struggles and life lessons she learned along the way.
She began by asking students if they have ever asked themselves the question, “Am I good enough?” Jordan related her experience competing in the 3A state softball finals in 2012 and the situation surrounding the event.
“I had to put myself back out there for my team and for my community. I’m so grateful that I did because it taught me that I could be resilient and that I could do hard things and that I bounce back from being stretched,” Jordan said.
“The world of athletics can be brutal. You fail more than you succeed. You get hit physically and mentally over and over again and it takes a toll on you emotionally. During these times it’s natural to ask yourself, ‘Am I good enough?’” She added.
“That self-reflecting question doesn’t just correlate with sports in life and in relationships and even in the work place,” Jordan said. “Being resilient can include so many things. It can include stepping outside your comfort zone, putting yourself f there not knowing what the final result could be. It means learning from your mistakes and bouncing back no matter how far you’ve been stretched.”
When Jordan took her success on the softball field to SUU after high school graduation, she was once again faced with that self-reflecting question, “Am I good enough?”
An injury took her off the pitcher’s mound for a year, and bouncing back took more than she thought she could handle at the time. It meant learning a whole new way of pitching the softball and a coach who pushed her to look at things differently.
“He said, ‘suck it up. Change the way you pitch.’ I looked at him and thought, ‘are you crazy? Do you know how hard that would be?’ But I did just that,” she said. “I had to retrain my body at 20 years old how to throw a softball again.”
“It was the hardest thing that I’ve ever had to do,” she added.
The outcome wasn’t what comes from Hollywood movies but more importantly, it shaped her as an adult.
“I wish I could stand in front of you and say that I had this story book ending, that I came back and I was great and had all this success but I didn’t. I got hit and people hit me pretty hard and I was never the same pitcher. But in that moment and looking back, I’m so thankful for it because once again it proved to myself that I have to be resilient. Being resilient can be hard but in those times are the times that you learn the most about yourselves,” Jordan said.
Jordan offered students three bits of advice.
“Show up, no matter the situation, show up for yourself and show up for those around you,” she said. “Two, do good. Athletics is what you do. It is not who you are.”
Finally, she said, just breathe.
“My parents always implemented this word into me, just breathe. Breathe, it is okay,” she said. “That word has carried on with my whole life.”
Jordan earned degrees from SUU and Utah State University and is currently a speech therapist for the Box Elder School District. She also coaches high school basketball and softball, relaying her wisdom to student athletes.
This year 12 sponsors generously gave to the Bear River High Student Athlete program. Ace Hardware, American Family Insurance, Intermountain Health Care Bear River Valley Hospital, Capener Losee Real Estate, Chanshare Sod, Kent’s Market, Members First Credit Union, Northern Title, Rudd Funeral Home, Studio R, the Leader and Wesley and Amanda Archibald.
The 2018-19 Student Athletes of the Month were Parker Coombs, a three-sport athlete (football, basketball and baseball) and twin sister tennis partners, Kelsey and Lindsey Larkin, all three picked for September 2018. October’s student athletes honored were Cole Croney and Nicole Harris, a member of the BRHS volleyball team and one of this year’s salutatorians.
Students earning the title in November were Brayden Irwin (swim) and Emilie Call, a cheerleader at BRHS. In December Kelton Summers, a three sport athlete (football, basketball and baseball) and Lindsey Ostermiller, a member of the BRHS swim team, a competitive water skier and this year’s Student Body President received the honor.
Starting 2019 were January’s picks, Weston Hirschi (football and wrestling) and Emma Bitner (soccer, basketball and track). In February BRHS’s Class of 2019’s valedictorian, Braxton Buttars, a swimmer and soccer player, earned the honor along with Katie Cragun, a four-year member of the BRHS drill team and one of this year’s class salutatorians.
In March, Whitnie Burton and Logan Pond earned the honors. Logan is a multi-sport athlete (football, wrestling, swimming, swimming, track and soccer) and was a 2018 4A state wrestling champion. Devon Roberts, a 2019 4A state champion track hurdler and cross country runner, was recognized along with Elizabeth Wilkinson, also a member of the BRHS track team as a hurdler and a competitive figure skater, in April. The year’s last top student athletes went to Jaren Jackman, a varsity tennis player for BRHS and Madison Towne, an accomplished ballerina turned sprinter for the BRHS track team.