Juneau-Douglas High School senior Jackson Lehnhart was selected as the 2013 Gatorade Boys Soccer Player Of The Year in Alaska. The Gatorade Company made the announcement on Tuesday.
The honor of being the best high school soccer player in the 49th state has been bestowed upon, ironically, the largest state in the union’s most unselfish and team oriented player.
“Obviously it has a lot to do with the people I have been with,” Lehnhart said. “My teammates, coaches, everyone, I think I have a lot of people to be grateful for. I am excited, really excited. It is a good way to finish off four years of hard work in high school soccer.”
That hard work has resulted in state soccer championships in 2010 and 2011, the Most Valuable Player selection of the 2011 state tournament (his older brother was the starting goalie on the team), a runner up finish by the score of 1-0 in last year’s state championship game, first team all-state selection last season, nomination for the 2012 GPOY, and breaking the JDHS career scoring and assist marks. Lehnhart has 92 career points (including two goals scored Friday against Ketchikan, Saturday results did not occur in time for this publication), breaking the 80 set by 2008 graduate Colin Flynn. Lehnhart is first career goals with 54 ( 2006 grad Dylan Ashe had 53 and 2001 grad Justin Dorn 49) and first in career assists with 38 (2011’s Max Smith tallied 35 and 2008’s Flynn 33).
Lehnhart was also a member of the state championship baseball team last season and currently bats leadoff for the Crimson Bears.
“I would say the practices and finding the time,” Lehnhart said of playing two sports concurrently. “Just staying on the positive side with both teams I think is hard. Going back and forth between two sports is hard to keep everybody happy with the situation and I think my teammates enjoy me enough that they are okay with it. They are good friends, more than teammates. They put up with me.”
Lehnhart also was selected to represent Alaska in the 2008 and 2010 Arctic Winter Games in Indoor Soccer and was the 2010 AWG juvenile male top scorer. Lehnhart was selected to the 2012 Alaska All State Second Team in football as well.
“These sports are absolutely not a one-man sport,” Lehnhart said. “You can only do so much. I don’t think I would have made a difference in most of the situations, I think I helped, but my teammates were the reason. I am going to miss them so much.”
The Gatorade POY also acknowledges extracurricular work. Lehnhart is a member and participant in NAMI (National Alliance for Mental Illness), a Board Member of Youth Actions Committee (YAC), served food at The Glory Hole homeless shelter, continues a litter pick up yearly community service project, has coached and refereed youth recreational soccer teams and games, worked at Kids Play Day of America, and traveled
To Eureka, CA to aide the Indian reservation with construction and other needs in the Sierra Service Project.” I am looking forward to what is to come,” Lehnhart said. “I have not idea what to expect.”
Lehnhart passed on a roster spot on the Gonzaga University soccer team to attend Division III Amherst (Mass.) College in the fall where he will play soccer for the “Jeffs.” The baseball coach at Amherst has also contacted him.
“I chose Amherst because, academically, it is a lot higher quality,” Lehnhart, who maintains a 3.95 GPA, said. “And I liked the idea of being at a small school.”
Lehnhart is the fifth Crimson Bears soccer player to earn the Gatorade Alaska POY distinction. Colin Flynn won in 2008, Dylan Ashe in 2006, Robert Lossett in 2002 and Justin Dorn in 2001. Lehnhart is also a finalist for the Gatorade Boys Baseball Player Of The Year.
Jackson Lehnhart stated in his Gatorade Player of the Year Award Candidate form, “As long as I can remember I’ve been a soccer player. My dad was a college soccer player and coach, and a central figure in the growth of soccer in Juneau. This benefitted me as a soccer player in many ways, including being a part of high school practices since the time I learned to walk, and coaching/running soccer camps. Some of the best soccer players to come out of Alaska, former Gatorade winners, have been my mentors and friends. Being from Alaska has made pursuing competitive soccer more challenging, but through ODP, college showcase tournaments and playing up with my brothers more successful club team I have been able to not only grow and improve as a player but have seen and competed with the best the west coast has to offer. As the son of the winningest boy’s coach in Alaska, I have been exposed to the game both technically and tactically, but the real value is the day-to-day approach to practice and games. Living in Alaska has given me a flexible / can-do attitude and I believe that has helped me as a player, preparing me to handle difficult obstacles ahead. I am a motivated student and look forward to pursuing my degree while taking my game to the next level and feel that I have potential to still grow as a player.”