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October 25, 2021

Live Oak’s top athletes also excel off the field

Zach Souza, Emma Courtney, Logan Wiemann, Isabella Fiorentino, Thomas Dougherty and Emily Funk all made their mark as Live Oak High student-athletes. The six—along with dozens of their fellow students—received recognition at the school’s Senior Awards Night on May 24. 

Souza and Courtney were named the Athletes of the Year, Wiemann and Fiorentino were named the Scholar Athletes of the Year, and Dougherty and Funk won the Semper Fidelis Distinguished Athletes of the Year award. Wiemann also won the Acorn of the Year, a school award nominated and voted on by teachers. The Scholar Athlete of the Year award is presented by the booster club and voted on by the coaches and the Semper Fidelis was presented by the U.S. Marine Corps. 

“I’m grateful to be recognized for all the hard work I’ve put forth in sports and academics the past four years,” said Fiorentino, a field hockey and soccer standout who carried a 4.06 GPA. 

An attacker on the field hockey team and a defender on the soccer team, Fiorentino was equally impactful in both sports. Like many of her teammates on the field hockey team, Fiorentino only started playing the sport as a freshman but excelled from the get-go. She proved to be a potent goal scorer and was rock-solid as a defender on the soccer squad. 

“I’ve had really good coaches in my time here and will miss them the most,” she said. “My soccer coach (Tony Vasquez) has been coaching me since I was 13 years old, so it’s hard to say goodbye to him.”

Wiemann not only won Acorn and Scholar Athlete of the Year, but he won the Blossom Valley League’s Scholar Athlete of the Year honor, which took him completely off guard. 

“That was the most surprising one,” said Wiemann, who carried a 4.4 GPA and beat out a distinguished field as the BVAL has 24 schools, second largest in the Central Coast Section. “These awards mean a lot because you spend four years with your peers and teammates and also see them do well.”

An exemplary student-athlete, Wiemann was one of the BVAL’s premier two-way linemen in his junior and senior years and said he’ll remember all the Live Oak staff and coaches for helping him grow as a person and athlete. 

“You come into high school as this unformed clay and leave like a perfectly crafted potter,” he said. “You have these people around that mold and form you and make you a better person after four years.”

Courtney said she was stunned upon learning she won the Athlete of the Year award. This despite the fact she starred in three sports: field hockey, soccer and softball. She helped the softball team earn a co-championship in the BVAL’s Santa Teresa Division this season and with it a spot in the CCS playoffs. In the team’s game at Lincoln High, Courtney bashed a towering home run over the 30-foot tall fence in left field. 

“That one felt so good,” she said. “Especially because I was struggling a little bit in the prior games. That helped my confidence, so it was awesome.”

Courtney had not played organized soccer for at least a couple of years until her freshman season at Live Oak. She ended up becoming a bona-fide goalkeeper and in the process of playing sports, she developed a belief in herself.

“I’ve grown to be more comfortable with myself and more confident,” she said. 

Souza made it a goal to win Athlete of the Year since he was a freshman, wanting to match what his older brother Tyler did in 2017.

“It was something to strive for, to match him,” Souza said. 

In addition to being a top-notch linebacker on the football team, Souza was a standout wrestler in the middle weights and a quality midfielder on the lacrosse team. This year he played two sports—lacrosse and wrestling—in the same season. Though talented, Souza will never be mistaken for being the most physically gifted, biggest or fastest player on the field. 

“My whole life I was the smaller kid always out to prove something,” he said. “I think that’s what gets me through all of this, is my grit and determination to be the best.”

This was Souza’s first full year of playing lacrosse, as last year’s season was cancelled due to Covid. Despite his lack of playing experience, Souza has already received interest from four-year programs, and he’s hopeful a situation will arise where he’s able to play in college. Dougherty and Funk won an award presented by the Marine Corps. In addition to being a golf and soccer standout, Funk volunteered for Animal Rescue Foundation (ARF) and Future Farmers of America (FFA). 

Her family fosters dogs through ARF and she raised a lamb in her freshman year through FFA. In terms of her favorite memories, Funk said helping the girls soccer team win a league championship during her freshman year and leading the girls golf team to a league title this past season will resonate. In addition to girls golf, Live Oak won league championships in football, girls cross country, baseball, boys basketball and softball in the modified 2021 sports season. 

Dougherty felt humbled to win the Semper Fidelis award.

“The way I try to carry myself is expressed perfectly in this award from the Marine Corps,” he said. 

Dougherty has burst onto the scene this season on the track, as he’ll enter the CCS Track and Field Trials on June 12 with the sixth fastest time, 10.92 seconds, in the 100-meter dash. 

“I didn’t know I was that fast,” he said. “That was a really good race because I came strong off the start and carried it through the whole way. It was pretty much a perfect race.”

Dougherty also excelled as a cornerback on the football team that went 4-0 in the Mount Hamilton Division. Despite his excellence on the field, Dougherty counts his work in the classroom as a greater accomplishment. He carried a 4.5 GPA his junior and senior years and earned all A’s through high school. 

“I probably value the academic achievement a little higher because I was always putting in extra work balancing sports with it,” he said.

Delaney Ervin was the girls Acorn of the Year; Austin Fisher earned valedictorian and the Semper Fidelis Scholastic Excellence Award, Timothy Downer won the Semper Fidelis Musician Award; and girls volleyball standout Janelle Laflin was recognized as the salutatorian.  

Thomas Dougherty and Emily Funk won Semper Fidelis Distinguished Athlete of the Year honors, presented by the Marine Corps. Photo by Robert Eliason.
Isabella Fiorentino, standing alongside Live Oak softball/field hockey coach Sarah Porras, earned Scholar Athlete of the Year honors. Photo by Robert Eliason.
Emanuel Lee
Sports Editor of the Gilroy Dispatch, Hollister Free Lance and Morgan Hill Times. PR of 3:13.40 at the 2019 CIM. Hebrews 12:1.

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