Athletes of the Year leave positive legacy at junior high

Mattie Drennan, Rocco Spindler and Garrett Dellinger made their mark on Clarkston Junior High School as freshman and were recipients of the Female and Male Athletes of the Year Award, May 30.
Drennan was named Female Athlete of the Year. She earned her varsity letter in cross country and track and her JV letter in soccer.

Mattie Drennan runs during a track meet during her freshman spring season. Photo provided

Sarah Wasilk, head coach for girls JV soccer, shared though track and soccer are spring sports Drennan could balance both.
“Sometimes Mattie played three soccer games a week and could still run and earn points in a varsity track meet,” she said. “Mattie played nearly every minute of every game and was an integral part of our growth throughout the season. She can play forward, midfield, and I’m sure she would and could play defense if I asked her. She is a humble leader on and off the field, rarely recognizing her impact on the game. She is greatly respected by her teammates and coaches and has great potential in the years to come.”
For track, Drennan was on the winning 3,200-meter and 800-meter relay teams at the Oakland County Freshman meet and also took third place in hurdles during the meet.
“Mattie is possibly the most versatile athlete on the girls varsity track team,” said Kevin Breen, head coach for varsity track and field and girls cross country. “She is capable of scoring points from the 200-meter dash all the way through the 20mile. Mattie’s main event became the 300 hurdles where she scored most of her varsity letter points. Mattie also helped the 4×400 relay team qualify for the state championship.”
During the cross country season, Drennan was the seventh fastest runner on the team and ran a 5K in the time of 19:49.
Drennan maintained a grade point average of 4.0 while taking multiple honors classes and participating in the school band.
“Mattie has one of the most incredible drive to be the best student she can be. She holds herself to a very high standard and very seldom fails to reach or exceed that expectation,” said Mark Magni, Honors History teacher. “While Mattie is not a vocal history student and does not share her opinion out loud unless called on, her written response to complex prompts and texts shows a mature depth of thought with creative thinking and great empathy. She is also an extraordinary collaborative partner, making all others feel valued and appreciated. Mattie is overall just a good person, and exemplifies what is means to excel in the classroom both academically and socially. It has been a pleasure to be her teacher this year.”
Spindler and Dellinger were named Male Athletes of the Year.
“Usually we present awards to one female and one male athlete, however it was nearly impossible to decide between the next two male athletes, which is why they are both receiving the award,” shared Wasilk, CJH Dean of Students.
Both started in all 14 games on the offensive line for the Clarkston Varsity Football state championship team. They both also played on the defensive end as well. They both shared Rookie of the Year honors from the team and received All-North Honorable Mention by The Detroit News.
“It’s hard to put into words what an accomplishment it is for Rocco and Garrett to have played the role they did on a state championship team at this level of high school football,” said Justin Pintar, offensive line coach. “Not only did they come in and help the team succeed on the field, but they’re great teammates on and off the field and both are extremely coachable young men. I can’t wait to see their development over the next three years and feel honored to have the opportunity to continue coaching them as they grow here at Clarkston and pursue their dreams of one day playing at the next level.”
Spindler spent his winter season earning his varsity letter in wrestling and finished with a 24-7 record in the heavy weight and qualified for the state finals. He was the recipient of the Freshman of the Year award; placed seventh in the Oakland County meet; placed seconds at districts; and placed fourth at regionals.

Rocco Spindler shares a moment with Steve Himburg, eighth grade football coach, after winning the state championship. Photo by Renee Weaver-Wright

“We were happy to see Rocco’s success this season,” said Joe Wood, Clarkston Varsity Wrestling Head Coach. “Our coaching staff is proud of his determination and hard work. Rocco accomplished many things as a freshman at heavyweight that are considered unheard of for his age. We’re proud he is a part of our program and look forward to his future successes.”
Spindler maintained over a 3.2 grade point average while participating in two varsity sports.
“Rocco is a very persistent person who no matter what, gets his responsibilities taken care of,” said Curtis Fields, Language Arts teacher. “Rocco participates thoughtfully during deep class discussions. His determination to get through difficult classwork  is a trait he has undoubtedly perfected on the football field, but it has benefited him in the classroom as well. He is certainly deserving of this award.”
Dellinger celebrated the end of his winter season as a center with the Clarkston Boys Varsity Basketball team at the Breslin Center as the Wolves won their back-to-back championship.

Garrett Dellinger accepts the state championship medal for basketball. Photo by Larry Wright

“Even when Garrett was growing up in McGrath, he was a man among boys,” said Dan Fife, long-time head coach for the basketball team. “If he pursued basketball, I know he has the talent and ability to play at the college level. As talented as he is, he is equally as good of a person.”
Dellinger maintained a 3.7 GPA while taking an honors math class.
“Garrett is a pure joy each and every day,” said Emily Grammatico, Spanish teacher. “With all the athletic recognition aside, I will forever remember him by the way he treats others. I have witnessed him stand up to and for others. I have seen him sit and play and engage with two 5-year-olds and an 8- year-old who came in for take your child to work day.  He is kind to everyone, he respects everyone. He has a heart of gold and I know success will follow him in his life.”
Wasilk shared during the 2016-2017 school year there were 559 freshman and a little over 200 of them were athletes. During the the 2017-2018 school year, there were close to 600 students and over 100 more athletes.
She added the main criteria for this award was athletic ability, but they also took into account the student’s academics, attendance, citizenship, and leadership.