Photo by Becky Lathrop
LANCASTER – Forget about all the accolades and accomplishments that Kyle Lathrop has received on the field.
It's what the Marauder sophomore baseball player does off the field that earned him the 2018 Jethawks Community Sportsman of the Year Award.
"It's a huge honor for me," said Lathrop. "I thought it was pretty cool because only three of us received it in the Antelope Valley."
The award is given to full-time college or high school students in the Antelope Valley. Nominees must play a sport at their respective school and hold a G.P.A. of 2.5 or better. One must actively participate in community service and demonstrate leadership among peers. Finally, nominees must exhibit quality of character and enthusiasm in the classroom, in their sport and in the community."
"When I heard about the award, Kyle's name instantly came to mind as the perfect candidate," AVC head coach John Livermont said. "Kyle is not only an exceptional athlete, but he takes huge pride in representing not only his college, but the entire Antelope Valley community through his actions."
Meeting the criteria was no problem for Lathrop. A valedictorian coming out of Paraclete High School in Lancaster, Lathrop holds nearly a 3.4 G.P.A. while majoring in Business Administration. Lathrop said he could change his major to Sports Management but is unsure.
"Each year we reach out to all high schools and colleges for the award. They have to go above and beyond," said Jules Clyne, Manager of Community Relations and Marketing for the Lancaster Jethawks, a minor league affiliate of the Colorado Rockies. "I know Kyle comes from a great family and when we read his nomination he was a guarantee win for us. This is a great resume builder, a great talking point for kids."
The award, which was given by the Jethawks Baseball Foundation, an organization that partners with the Boys and Girls Club of the Antelope Valley to help youth join a baseball team, an opportunity they might not have otherwise. Staff members of the Jethawks, faculty members of the Boys and Girls Club, and other volunteers such as Lathrop help coach a team.
The season, held at Jethawks Stadium from June through August, consists of more than 200 players and broken up into at least 10 teams, according to Clyne.
"It's the most amazing experience," she said.
One of the fundraisers put on by the foundation was the Hot Stove Banquet, held at the University of Antelope Valley Grand Ballroom, which Lathrop was given his award. Hall of Famer Tim Raines, who played most of his illustrious career with the Montreal Expos, was the guest speaker for the event. Clyne said many of the proceeds go to helping fund gloves, food and transportation for the kids.
Lathrop not only volunteers coaching baseball, but he has been a youth basketball coach for the City of Lancaster for five years from the ages of five to 13. He also frequents Rancho Vista Elementary, where his mom teaches, and reads to young kids through the Read Across America program.
"I loved coaching the little kids. It's very rewarding seeing them get better. I think I had as much fun as the kids did. I'm always the one playing, but it was a different kind of experience," Lathrop said. "It's gratifying seeing them improve over the course of a season. I'm just trying to make a difference in a life. I had many great coaches who made a difference for me and I'm trying to do the same."
Lathrop said he plans on continuing his community service.
"We recognize those who don't have to do it, but they do it just because the person that they are," Clyne said. "They are leaders by example."
On the field Lathrop's numbers have been just as impressive as off the field. Last year he hit .331 which was third on the team and he earned Second-Team All-Western State Conference. His 50 hits and seven stolen bases ranked tops on the team. He also finished second on the Marauders with 20 RBI, predominantly batting in the leadoff spot.
This season, he hasn't missed a beat. He has hit safely of 16 of AVC's 20 games this season and is batting .323 on the season. His 22 RBI lead the team along with his 11 stolen bases, ranking No. 11 in the state in that category for the player that wears number 11. He also leads the team with seven doubles.
The numbers don't lie and college coaches have taken notice.
Lathrop's talents parlayed him a scholarship to the University of Antelope Valley where he recently verbally committed to play next season.
"It's cool that I've been able to do this stuff and still be successful (in school and sports). I feel like I do a lot of different things and I have fun with it. I don't do it because I have to. I do it because I enjoy it," Lathrop said. "I love giving back to the community. My family has inspired me to give back. I'm very close with my family and they have been a big part of being who I am. I'm just looking forward to the future. I have at least two more years here and hopefully I can keep adding to it."
The other two recipients of the award were UAV's Jasmine Estrada for cross country and Quartz Hill High School's Triveni Patel for tennis.
"He is very deserving of the award. He's a well-rounded guy and a good captain on and off the field," teammate Daniel Gomez said. "Anyone who has him in their program is lucky to have him."