By Grace Bernal
Jacob Turner is the associated student body president and starting varsity wide receiver for the Damien High School Spartans.
“My overall experience at Damien High School has been amazing,” Turner said. “I believe being a student here is preparing me for college. There are many opportunities at Damien that cannot be offered anywhere else and the school spirit and brotherhood is unlike anything I have ever seen. I am sure that some of the friends and teammates I have met are and will remain close friends for life.”
Turner said that “Outside of sports and the associated student body, which I have been active in for the past three years, I participated in campus activities such as the Let It Be Club, the student section of our Pit Club, Christian Leadership, and the Black Student Union. I have also been a writer and photographer for our school newspaper, The Laconian, since my sophomore year.” Since his sophomore year, Turner has been involved in the “Me to We” Global Service Club at Damien, which used to be Feed the Children.
Turner said football entails a significant time commitment. “I practice about 9 hours per week,” he said. “I probably spend about two to three hours per week studying the playbook, which includes watching film on our opponents. I would say that because of the amount of time I spend studying and watching film, I have mastered the playbook.”
Turner said, “The biggest challenge I personally have playing football is my size. While I stand at 6 feet and 1 inch, my weight is a little undersized for most football players. However, I make it up with my other abilities, such as speed, strength, route running, and catching the ball.”
“Five games into this season, our toughest opponent so far has been Charter Oak High School out in Covina,” Turner said. “They are a strong, talented and well-coached team, one of the best teams in the area. Our record as we go into league play this week is 4-1, and they are the only team that we have lost to this season.”
“I have played wide receiver consistently,” Turner said. “I played a little bit of cornerback my freshman and sophomore years, but wide receiver has always been my favorite position. As a senior, I cannot see myself playing any other position. To me, wide receiver is one of the more exciting positions to play in football. There is truly nothing better than catching a long deep pass and scoring a touchdown.”
Turner talked about dedication and perseverance, “The amount of playing time I have earned has changed dramatically from my freshman to senior year,” Turner said. “In my first season at Damien, I started off as a backup to the starters on the freshman team and played Saturday mornings instead of Thursday afternoons. As the season went on, I worked hard and earned my starting spot on Thursdays. During the summer going into my sophomore year, I earned a spot on the varsity team. However, I was a part of the second string so I did not see the field very much on Friday nights. But that changed my junior year, as I became a full time starter and have been ever since.”
Turner expressed confidence that he will be able to continue to play football beyond Damien.
“I can envision myself playing football in college,” he said. “I believe that my abilities can take me there, no matter what the NCAA division. Over the past few months I have been in contact with many colleges’ coaches and participated in camps as well to get noticed. As I continue through my college application process, playing college football is a strong factor in the decision of schools that I apply to.”
At the same time, Turner said he has vectored his intensity beyond the athletic field.
“Grades have always been extremely important to me,” he said. “School and academics always comes before football. My family has always gone by the rule that in order to play sports, I always need to make sure that I am on top of my studies. Over the last few years, I have earned a 3.8 GPA and have taken eight advanced placement courses and 3 honors classes. I find time before practice every day to get some of my homework done and finish it when I get home at night.”
Turner fits in well with his teammates, who defy the stereotype that those who man the gridiron boast more brawn than brains. The seniors on Damien’s varsity squad are currently carrying grade point averages of 3.7, 4.35, 3.6, 3.97, 3.89, 4.12, and 3.78.
Turner said he is trying to give himself a smorgasbord of options as to where he will attend college.
“As of right now, some of the schools that I will be applying to include USC, the University of San Diego, and Pitzer College. These are just a few, but wherever I go, I will make sure that my education is top notch and will also prepare me for life and the career that I will soon set out for.”
As he works around a busy schedule and maintains an outstanding grade point average while challenging himself with the rigor of AP courses, Turner is involved in several activities outside of Damien, including participating as part of Congresswoman Norma Torres’ 35th District Youth Advisory Committee and the Chino Knights of Columbus at St. Margaret Mary Church, where he helps out when he can. Over the last four summers, Jake has also worked eight days helping at the Rock Point Navajo Reservation in Arizona with construction projects and vaccinating sheep, goats, and horses.
Damien High School lies across the San Bernardino/Los Angeles County Line in LaVerne. A significant portion of its student body consists of students from the communities of Chino Hills, Chino, Montclair, Ontario, Upland and Rancho Cucamona. Turner lives with his family in Chino.
By Grace Bernal