Today I have the privilege of attending the 25th Annual Athena Awards banquet at the Vadnais Heights Commons. The St. Paul Area Athena Award committee honors the outstanding senior female athletes from over 40 area high schools.

There are winners there from every high school in the St. Paul area. Attending this banquet is one of the highlights of my school year. Despite all of the many athletic accomplishments that I hear, the thing I am most impressed with is the accomplishments outside of athletics for each of the winners.

These female student-athletes also excel in the classroom, are involved in various activities in their schools, and spend countless hours volunteering in their communities.

Each year, the committee of Park coaches that picks this award has a very difficult decision. We have many fine female student-athletes in our senior class. Park's winner this year is Saren Croker.

Croker is a four-year letter winner in softball, earning All-Conference, All-Section, and All-State honors as a catcher. She led her team to three section championships and a second place finish in state last year.

Croker was a four-year letter winner in basketball as well, earning All-Conference Honorable Mention honors and was named Academic All-State. She also played two years of varsity tennis.

She has earned three academic letters and is a member of National Honor Society. She also participates in Link Crew, Pack of Friends, SADD, and Leaders of the Pack.

Croker is also involved in her community and has volunteered with youth sports camps and clinics, Coco's Heart, and at the Dorothy Day women's shelter. She will attend Creighton University next fall to play softball and study biology.

Past winners of this award at Park include Tina Press, Hanna Mortenson, Ally Gorres, Annie Williams, Larissa Lurken, Allie Morse, and Jackie Voigt, as well as current Park staff members Ashley (Homan) Bailey, Kate Schwartz, and Anna Keys.

Congratulations to Croker and the other Athena winners. I know each of these girls will be successful in whatever they do. They should feel very proud of their accomplishments.