There might not seem as if there are enough hours in the day, but somehow Santa Ynez High School’s Jackson “Jack” Stevens gets everything done.
The 16-year-old junior from Buellton seamlessly blends a full college prep workload while competing on three of the Pirates’ athletic teams and has started a school club — and he does it all while maintaining a perfect 5.0 grade point average.
“He’s the first actual athlete that I’ve seen get a 5.0,” said Santa Ynez High Athletic Director and head track coach Ashley Coelho. “But he doesn’t just have his nose stuck in books. Jack still enjoys hanging out with his friends and hanging out with his teammates on the track. A lot of kids look up to him.”
Stevens just completed the cross country season and is now hard at work getting ready to play on the boys’ varsity soccer team.
And then in the spring, Stevens gets his running shoes back out to run the one-mile and two-mile races as a member of the track and field team.
“I started cross country in my sophomore year,” said Stevens while taking a break from Thursday’s soccer practice. “I thought I’d give it a try to get in shape for soccer and I ended up being better at cross country.
“My first race was the frosh/soph race at the UCSB Invitational on their Lagoon Course in my sophomore year. That’s a half-distance race (1½ miles) for frosh/soph and I ended up winning the race. It was a fun introduction to the sport.”
Stevens missed the first three races of the 2019 season while recovering from nasal surgery.
“I was born with a deviated septum that made it difficult to breathe through my nose,” said Stevens. “Those weeks that I had to take off to recover from the surgery — I did not like sitting on the sidelines.”
Stevens made it back for the Pirates’ final four meets and says his breathing is now close to 100 percent.
He also says the running actually helps with soccer.
While Stevens plays all over the field, he’s been spending most of the practice season in the midfield.
“I play on a club soccer team and in club games, I probably run about 8-miles,” said Stevens. “In high school, I don’t play as much so I’m running less than that.”
Cross country races are 3-miles which is the total of the distance Stevens runs in a typical track meet.
“I like the distance races. I think running long distances is very calming,” said Stevens. “In the sprints, there’s too much to think about. I know they are short races but you have to worry about getting off to a fast start and getting down the track fast.
“When you’re running long distances, you can really clear your mind. It relieves stress. You have to just run and it becomes more fun.”
Stevens also excels in the classroom.
“My freshman year I had a 4.17 GPA. That’s the highest you could get in that grade and that’s what I had.”
He’s followed that with two perfect 5.0 years.
“I’ve always been into education,” said Stevens. “I was always into math. Recently I’ve been getting into history. I like stem (science, technology, engineering, math) classes and the humanities.”
Math and history run in the family.
Stevens’ mother Cami has been teaching social studies and English at La Colina Junior High in Goleta for the past 25 years.
His father Ken taught math for 25 years before switching to a job as a labor organizer for schools in the Santa Maria and San Luis Obispo area five years ago.
Stevens has an older sister Kendall, 21, who is a student at UC Berkeley, and a younger sister Emerson, 11, who is in the seventh grade at Jonata Middle School.
“For college, the UC schools are on my mind,” said Stevens. “My sister goes to Berkeley and I’ve visited her up there. It’s a really nice place and UCLA is really interesting. I’m going to be looking a lot more at those schools and others over the winter break.”
As if classes and competition aren’t enough, Stevens also has community work on his mind.
“Recently I started a club, the Santa Ynez Progressives,” said Stevens. “We’re trying to get gender-neutral bathrooms in our school so I’m working on that and other issues that are important to our community.”
“Jack is such a hard worker. He always goes the extra mile — no pun intended — and he has an amazing rapport with everyone. He has the biggest heart,” said Coelho. “Jack is just a phenomenal human being.”