By FRANCISCO E. JIMENEZ
Every year, the San Benito News selects two athletes who epitomize what it means to be not only a superior athlete, but more importantly a distinguished student.
Jackie Elizondo and Jamail Garza, San Benito High School student athletes who graduated with their senior class on Friday, definitely fit that bill. And that’s why Elizondo and Garza have been named the 2013 San Benito News Sportsmen of the Year.
“I was speechless when I found out about it,” said Elizondo, who has been a force on the basketball court, track and softball fields as a proud San Benito Lady ’Hound. “Just knowing that all the hard work that I put into athletics came a long way shows that no matter how big you are or how much pain you’ve gone through, you keep fighting and you push for what you want and it’ll get recognized. That’s what happened with me.”
Elizondo graduated Friday evening with a 3.5 GPA and ranked 59th in her class. She plans to attend Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi and double major in Business and Music, but that might change if Elizondo is able to turn heads at the upcoming All-Star softball game, as she has all season.
“I got accepted to a lot of different schools, but on June 22 I have an All-Star Softball game, and if somebody signs me then I’ll probably take that,” explained Elizondo. “In Corpus, I’m probably going to try to walk-on the softball team and track.”
When asked if she would pursue playing basketball at the collegiate level, Elizondo said, “My favorite sport was basketball. I might (try basketball in college), but with my size I’m smaller than most.” She added, “I have a lot of fight in me so I might try. Then again, I had surgery on both knees, so I don’t know if that’s going to help me or not.”
Elizondo still has many memories to look back on while she pursues her career in sports, music and business. On the highlight of her high school career, she referred to the Lady Hounds advancing to the state softball tournament this year, a first for any Rio Grande Valley softball team.
“It was an amazing experience just knowing that it was my senior year and we went out with a bang,” Elizondo said. “No matter where we’re from, even if it’s a small town like San Benito, we can make it up to Austin and play and fight with other teams who are also very competitive.”
Also taking his talents to the “next level” is Jamail Garza, who plans to play football at Graceland University in Lamoni, Iowa. Garza is graduating with a 3.2 GPA and plans to study Criminal Justice with the hopes of becoming a U.S. Marshal.
Garza was recognized for his tremendous high school football career, in which he played strong safety but was also awarded Linebacker of the Year at the Greyhound Football Banquet in January.
“I was in football and in track; I ran the 800 meter relay and the 200 meter dash,” said Garza. “The highlight of my senior year was making the second team All-District and making the All-Star Game…Also beating the Cardinals. I had three interceptions, one forced fumble, one recovered fumble, 35 tackles and a sack from this year.”
Concerning what made this year special for him, he immediately thought of his teammates on the football field. “It was the group of guys I was with that made it special,” Garza said. “We bonded and became a family. I’m going to miss playing under the lights and hearing all the fans cheer. I feel honored because I feel that San Benito has the best athletes in the Valley.”