The Saddleback College athletic seasons came to a close last weekend and with the end of the school year fast approaching it was time to honor those athletes that have achieved academic success. The Gaucho family acknowledged over 100 athletes while saying goodbye to a longtime administrator.
Saddleback has placed a high priority on academics in recent years as Saddleback Athletics Dean/Athletics Director Tony Lipold started the Scholar Baller program over a decade ago in order to place a higher emphasis on academics. The program has grown in priority and emphasis, with seven teams winning the conference award for academic success this past year and one of the programs winning the top academic team in the state. It was only fitting that Lipold use the platform as one of his final addresses to the athletes as he will retire next month after 17 years on the job.
Scholar Baller status is earned when an athlete achieves a 3.0 GPA or higher. In addition, other awards were presented at the luncheon, which was catered by Jersey Mike's Subs.
The Fair Play Awards were given to football player Jojo Binda and cross country and track athlete Angel Vallier. The Scholar Athletes-of-the-Year Awards were given to women's soccer player Breanna Taboada and men's tennis player Michael Park. The Tom Padberg Character Award was also given to Vallier while the Richard McCullough Character Award was given to Taboada and football player Jonathan Hernandez. In addition, four different athletes were recognized as having a perfect 4.0 GPA for every semester while at the school as women's tennis player Maria Battel, women's water polo player Sarah Duke, men's swimmer Max Gonter and men's tennis athlete Michael Park were recognized.
"I've been very fortunate to work in an industry I love for a long time," Lipold said while brushing back tears. "I honestly believe Saddleback is the best school in the state and that I have been surrounded by best coaches in the state."
Best of luck, Tony! We'll miss you.