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Standout Runner Earns Leadership Award
From the time Juan A. joined Massapequa High School’s varsity track and field team as a freshman, his teammates looked to him as a leader. Now a senior, Juan was recently rewarded for his efforts in receiving the Leaders of Tomorrow Award at the 26th annual U.S. Air Force Hispanic Games.
The track and field invitational was held in Washington Heights on Jan. 3 and 4. Juan, who was nominated for the award by coach Rich Degnan, was honored along with other students from New York during a special ceremony. Candidates must be team captains, of Hispanic descent and have a grade point average of 90 or higher.
Juan has run track since eighth grade and is a mid-distance sprint runner, primarily participating in 300-meter, 400-meter and 4x4 relay races. He has broken several school records, some dating back 50 years. Among his responsibilities as captain are leading sprinters in warmup exercises and teaching younger members of the team how to properly stretch before a meet. He is a three-time All-County athlete and has earned one All-Long Island and two All-Conference selections.
Receiving the Leaders of Tomorrow award is a great honor, Juan said, as it represents being a good athlete, a good scholar and a good person. He explained that he looks up to past winners of the award and as a recipient now himself, he hopes to be a good role model for others.
Juan noted that he has a passion for track, as he loves being part of a team and working toward a goal. He credits coach Degnan for believing in him and allowing him to take on a leadership role on the team.
Coach Degnan noted that Juan’s personal drive to succeed inspires other members of the track team.
“Juan has worked extremely hard and become a fantastic captain for us,” coach Degnan said. “He does all the little things that a champion needs to do when no one is watching.”