Excelling academically while competing at a high level athletically takes special talent, and among the scholar-athletes from our region, the Record has selected three people from the 2018-2019 year of high school sports to be named top scholar-athletes at the newspaper’s annual NNEKY’s sports award celebration.

The Northern New Hampshire & Northeast Kingdom Yearly High School Sports Award banquet honors our region’s best high school athletes. This year’s banquet is July 10 at NVU-Lyndon.

The honor of scholar-athlete is one of the categories identified each year for distinction, and this year the honor goes to Connor McClure, of Lyndon Institute, and Jen and Lia Rotti, from St. Johnsbury Academy.

Criteria for the award include, but are not limited to academic achievement, athletic accomplishments and community leadership. Students fully handle their grueling sports schedules and still excel beyond their peers in the classroom. The award is open to high school seniors. They are chosen from nominees provided by representatives from the schools the The Record covers. Newspaper staff selects the top overall nominees.

Connor McClure

Connor McClure was a three-sport athlete and finished his high school years at Lyndon Institute sporting a 4.18 GPA.

The valedictorian of his class, Connor is the Green and Gold Scholarship winner from the University of Vermont.

A member of the National Honor Society, he is a Governor’s Institute of Vermont for Health and Medicine Graduate. Connor was a HOBY Leadership Representative, a Green Mountain Boys State Representative, and was a member of the LI Student Council all four years of high school.

During his senior year, Connor was a team leader in all of the sports in which he played, serving as captain of his volleyball, basketball and baseball teams. In volleyball, Connor earned 2nd Team All-State honors. He was also a member of the LI Athletic Honor Society.

And that’s not all, said LI Athletic Director Paul Wheeler.

“In addition to his many academic and athletic achievements, Connor spends countless hours working with youth in the community. He helped to create an equipment drive to support the Lyndon area youth baseball and softball program. He volunteered to assist in the LI Cabin Fever Baseball Clinic for four years. He has been a leading member of LI’s Food Drive, which supports the area Food Shelves.

“Connor has been a leader in promoting school spirit through the development of half time activities during LI home games.”

Jen & Lia Rotti

Co-scholar-athletes Jen and Lia Rotti are identical twin sisters and share the same drive for excellence in academics and athletics. Their accomplishments are so equally outstanding that Record staff could not name one over the other for the honor of scholar-athlete.

Less than a percentage point separated the sisters in their GPA success: Jen 93.46; Lia 93.96. They were co-salutatorians of their Academy class. At commencement, they delivered a speech together, highlighting their differences while being recognized for their shared academic excellence.

They were three-sports athletes, competing on the same soccer and track (indoor and outdoor) teams.

Jen was captain of the soccer team and earned 2nd Team Metro Soccer recognition. They both scored big as track teams members, leading the Academy to a 2018-19 State Championship in Indoor Track and as perennial powerhouses in outdoor track. The Academy won its 8th straight championship this spring.

“It is certainly unusual to nominate two for one individual award,” said David McGinn, athletic director at St. Johnsbury Academy. “That said, the twins have been nothing but a model of class, competitiveness and commitment (our three core covenants) since they arrived at the Academy. Like so much about identical twins, despite the fact that one is a defensive soccer player, while the other plays on the front line; and that they each have areas they dominate independently in track, it is nearly impossible to define a measurable difference in their achievements. The unique opportunity to recognize twins who have excelled in every aspect of their high school experience could, and likely would be a first and last in the NNEKY Awards history and future.”

Jen and Lia had different guidance counselors who offered similarly glowing reviews of the sisters.

Said Michele McCaffrey, “Jen is a special young woman. I have worked with high school students for over 20 years and she stands out to me as one of the most driven, compassionate, dynamic students whom I’ve had the pleasure to work with.”

For Lia, Jen Anson said, “Lia is the complete package and one of the most outstanding young women that I have encountered during my 15 years as a college counselor. Her courage, maturity and work ethic are top notch and I have no doubt that she will thrive in a rigorous academic community with like- minded peers. I give Lia my highest recommendation with enthusiasm.”

There are a limited number of tickets available for the banquet honoring Connor, Jen and Lia and many more top tier individuals from our region’s superb high school sports athletes. Go online to nneky.org for additional information, including details about obtaining tickets to the event.

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