McNary student-athletes Abigail Hawley (left) and Jacob Jackson were recognized as the female and male athletes of the year by the Salem Sports and Breakfast Club (Submitted).
The Salem Sports and Breakfast Club (SSBC) has been recognizing outstanding athletes in the Salem-Keizer area since 1964. And on Friday, May 31, the club added two McNary senior athletes to their historic fraternity.
Abigail Hawley was honored with the Harold Hauk Award for Female Prep Athlete of the Year while Jacob Jackson was given the Oliver Huston Award for Male Prep Athlete of the Year.
It was the first time since 1999 that two McNary athletes won were given Athlete of the year honors by SSBC.
“We have put in so much work throughout our high school career, and it was just really nice for us to get recognized,” Hawley said. “It’s also great for McNary to get the recognition because there are a lot of talented athletes here.”
“I want to thank all my past coaches for the competitive mentality they put in my head.”
Hawley was a four-year varsity player for the girls soccer squad and took home first-team all-Mountain Valley Conference honors in 2018. It was the second straight season she received the first-team all-conference nod.
Despite playing a litany of different positions over the course of her career, Hawley was the leading goal-scorer for the Celtics in each of the last three years.
“Abbie in a born leader. Since her freshman year she has been a team player, accepting any role and position our coaching staff asked her to play,” McNary girls soccer coach A.J. Nash said.
“On and off the field, her competitive mentality was one of the best assets she brought to the team. Her effort was always 110 percent. Abbie was a leader by example on the field, and was our go-to player for big goals in big games.”
Hawley was also a four-year varsity player for the girls basketball team and helped the Celtics reach the playoffs in all four years of her career.
This season, Hawley was the unquestioned leader of a very young team. Despite starting the season with a 1-8 record, McNary was able to go on a seven-game win streak and eventually earned a spot in the postseason. She led the team in scoring with 13.3 points per game and was named first-team all-league.
“It was really humbling to see the kind of progress that we made,” Hawley said. “We were the underdogs all season, but just being able to put the idea in the younger girls’ heads that anything is possible … I’m just really proud of that.”
Jackson was also a two-sport star for McNary over his four years of high school, competing in football and baseball — he also played basketball for the Celtics until this season.
As one of the most versatile athletes in the state, Jackson received three different all-conference honors in football last fall.
As a free safety Jackson had 62 tackles, five interceptions and was named first-team all-league. On the other side of the ball, he caught 31 passes for 354 yards and earned an honorable mention nod at receiver. He also was recognized as a honorable mention kicker.
Jackson was able to do this all while playing with injuries to his wrist, elbow and knee.
“It’s my senior year. I wasn’t at 100 percent, but I’m going to fight every minute just to make sure that I can make this the greatest experience I can have," Jackson said.
But what was most special to Jackson was not his individual accolades, it was that his team clinched their first conference title in 13 years with a 40-33 win over South Salem in their regular season finale.
“I got really really emotional after that game. It was probably one of the happiest moments that I have had in high school," Jackson said.
However, the injury bug bit Jackson once again during the spring, forcing the star shortstop to miss the last chunk of the season. But Jackson refused to get discouraged about the situation.
“Injuries kind of altered the season, but you learn as an athlete growing up that things are going to happen and not always go your way,” Jackson said.
Despite being banged up, Jackson still batted .316 with a .443 on-base percentage and nine extra-base hits. He also stepped up as a leader according to head coach Larry Keeker, and helped the Celtics reach the postseason for the second time in three years.
“The experience that Jacob has had at the varsity level for the last three years has really helped our program and really helped our team,” Keeker said. “This example he sets for the underclassmen and the teammates around him was really good for us. He knew that he was able to compete at a high level and he exudes confidence that rubs off on his teammates.”
Why winning the award was especially meaningful to Jackson was that his mother, Korrine Jackson (Wellin), won the Harold Hauk Award back in 1993, making them the first generational award winners in SSBC history.
“That was really cool for me, just because it’s my mom, and I have always strived to be as good as her,” Jackson said about his mother, who played volleyball, basketball and softball at McNary.
Although Hawley and Jackson received multiple offers to play at the next level, they both elected not to play sports in college.
Hawley will be attending the honors college at Oregon State University, while Jackson is doing a dual credit program at Oregon State and Linn-Benton Community College.
“I’m really grateful for the offers that I got, but I was getting a little burnt out,” Hawley said. “I’ve been playing those two sports for my entire life and I just thought that this was a good stopping point for me. I got what I needed out of them. I gained friendships. I grew as a person and a leader.”
What was more important, however, then the success between the lines, was that both Hawley and Jackson set an example for all McNary students.
“I was extremely proud to see the Salem Sports and Breakfast Club Committee choose to honor and celebrate student-athletes that excel in multiple sports, activities and academics,” McNary athletic director Scott Gragg said. “Both Abbie and Jacob represent everything we hold in high regard at McNary.”