MBHS Athletes of the Month — September 2023

Written by Neil Farrell

Neil has been a journalist covering the Estero Bay Area for over 27 years. He’s won numerous journalism awards in several different categories over his career.

October 6, 2023

The Fall 2023 Prep Sports season is off to a roaring start with girls and boys teams competing in cross country, girls playing volleyball and boys football. Plus there’s girls golf, tennis and water polo and the boys also are playing water polo at the school’s aquatics center. 

Again this year, the Morro Bay Athletic Boosters are honoring the Athletes of the Month as nominated by their coaches and the first honorees are from cross country, volleyball and golf.

“These student/athletes,” Booster’s President Ken Hotaling said, “are exemplary examples of leadership, sportsmanship, and athleticism.”

MBHS Girl’s golf coach, Jim Jensen, named Lucy Fortini as their team’s Athlete of the Month.

“As one of the returning players from last year’s senior laden team,” Coach Jensen said, “she is using that experience to lead this year’s team as they play in their first matches. In her first match Lucy finished fourth out of 48 players.”

Fortini’s team value is felt every day. “Lucy,” coach Jensen said, “displays her leadership skills by pumping up her teammates. She takes the time to offer words of encouragement and challenges the team to practice and perform well.”

Fortini is the team’s captain. “As captain,” Coach Jensen said, “she has shown the ability to make both seniors through freshmen feel part of the program. From there she sets an example for the other players to follow.

“She is instrumental in leading the pursuit of the goals of the team. This makes her the heart and soul of our program.”

He wishes he had 10 of her. “She is the type of player all coaches hope to have in their program. Congratulations, Lucy!”

The volleyball coach, Katherine Yabrough, wanted to honor two of her players. “Girls Volleyball is proud to select varsity players — senior Rio Fleming and sophomore Reese Kelly — as the student athletes of the month for September.

“Rio was voted by her teammates as captain for this season, and every day she proves she deserves it with her leadership, positivity, work ethic, and all around great personality.

“Reese has shown the greatest improvement in so many different aspects of her game in the short period we’ve been in season so far, and has the attitude every single day of wanting to keep improving.”

The girls are on the starting team. “Both Rio and Reese have earned starting positions in nearly every match we’ve played so far,” Coach Yarbrough said, “but their contributions to our team atmosphere go so far beyond their physical capabilities — they lead by example, they take every moment with purpose, and they set the tone of positivity, encouragement, and support for their teammates. 

“We are appreciative of everything they bring on and off the court and are very deserving of this honor. Congratulations, Rio and Reese!”

First year head cross country coach, Jennifer Frere, picked one boy and one girl to honor this month.

“Senior Michael Pascual,” Coach Frere said, “has shown true leadership in cross country this season. Michael leads the team through warm-ups, drills and puts forth a solid effort in every workout. He volunteered at our home meet after his race to help make it a success. He is a wonderful role model for our new runners.”

The second honoree has already made a big contribution in her first big high school race.

“Freshman Shelby Taylor,” Coach Frere said, “won our novice race at our home invitational this past weekend [Sept. 9]. She is committed to practice every day, showing up ready to work to get stronger and faster. Shelby always does her best and puts in that extra effort needed for a successful season.”

The MBHS Athletic Boosters is a non-profit organization dedicated to assisting all Morro Bay High School athletes. Meetings are held the second Monday of each month and all are welcome to attend. See the website at: www.mbhsab.org for information on memberships, season passes, and other ways to help the Athletic Boosters with donations of time or resources.

Estero Bay News will be publicizing the Athletes of the Month again this year and urge readers to go out and attend a game or lend a hand with the Boosters’ various fundraising efforts.

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