Bob Jones And James Clemens Select High School Heisman Scholarship Winners
MADISON- The prestigious High School Heisman Scholarship, presented by Acceptance Insurance, is regarded as one of the most coveted and enduring honors a high school student-athlete can win. The award is open to both boys and girls in every one of the 48 school sponsored sports recognized by the National Federation of State High School Associations.
The national award takes into consideration more than just athletics. Nominees must have an impressive grade point average and be proven leaders at their schools and communities. The system is set up for school winners to possibly be chosen state winners and those advancing to regionals winners and finally to the National Finalists.
Both Bob Jones and James Clemens high schools chose school winners of the national award for 2020.
At Bob Jones, volleyball great Joy Robinson and soccer star James Sieja were chosen as school Heisman winners.
Robinson, a 5-foot-9 outside hitter for the Patriots, is speaking with several colleges about playing volleyball and possibly completing a degree in accounting as she will carry a 3.93 grade point average through her senior year at Bob Jones. On the volleyball court, she was the team’s and area’s MVP and was named to the Class 7-A First Team All-State Team.
The daughter of Corey and LaTonya Robinson began volleyball in the seventh grade and actually had little experience in sports prior to her taking up the sport that will lead her into college. Born in San Diego, Cal., her family moved to Madison when she was seven years old.
“I appreciate the award as I was hoping I would win the coveted honor as there are so many others at our school who could have easily taken my place,” said Robinson. “I found out I had won when I visited the award’s website and saw my name. It was shocking and my family celebrated with a big dinner at home.”
Robinson has put in about 20 hours of a week of volunteer work at the Madison Public Library and has volunteered to assist in numerous events at her church including recent voter registration.
Her efforts in volleyball came close to never occurring as at age six she fell off a set of monkey bars in a park, broke her left wrist and wore a cast for months. She somehow overcame the injury to become a star performer. This recent senior season, Robinson also played through a left shoulder injury, which required physical therapy on a regular basis.
The 5-10, 155-pound Sieja has received an academic scholarship to study business economics at Mississippi State. He has a grade point average of 4.8, which ranks him No. 21 among the 450 seniors at Bob Jones. He does not plan on playing college soccer, but will continue to play on intermural leagues once at Mississippi State.
“I wasn’t expecting the Heisman award as this means a lot to me and I’m very happy to be so honored,” said Sieja, son of Thomas and Linda Sieja and has four siblings. “I’ve played soccer since I began to walk and winning the Heisman for my school is like a nice payoff for my years of playing soccer.”
Sieja and his family moved to Madison when he was in the second grade arriving here from California. He played recreation and club leagues before playing on the Discovery Middle School team and made his way to the high school varsity team and quickly became a starter for the Patriots. He was an All-State honorable mention last season and earned an All-Metro honor along with being chosen for the AHSAA North-South All-Star contest.
“I’m part of some clubs at school and I have worked volunteer events at my church along with numerous community projects,” said Sieja, who looks to become a business analyst after college.
At James Clemens, both Heisman Award winners possess a grade point average of at least 4.0 and look to academic scholarships to get them into college.
Jackson Quarles has a 4.0 in his studies and wants to earn a degree in education to where one day he would love to become a school superintendent. Nicknamed “Action Jackson,” the 6-5, 182-pound three-sport athlete partakes in the school’s cross country, track and basketball programs. He underwent shoulder surgery in May for an injury and at one time didn’t think he could play basketball this fall, but he fought his way back to make the team roster. Once the indoor and outdoor track seasons get underway he will concentrate on his talents in track, where he runs the 200, 400 and 4X400 events and is ranked No. 1 in the region in the 400-meter.
The son of Darrell and Yonka Quarles is as busy away from his sports as he is in his athletic prowess. He’s President of the SGA, a member of the FCA, Student-2-Student and several honor societies, a distinguished school leader and was chosen as the 2020 Homecoming King and as Best Personality among his senior class.
“I applied for the Heisman Award as a way to earn scholarship money and bring recognition to James Clemens,” said Quarles. “I heard I had won, but wasn’t expecting to do so. I’m very grateful for the honor and for my school.”
Quarles was among almost 100 student-athletes who were nominated and school principal Dr. Brian Clayton personally called him to tell him of his winning. He added, “My winning is a blessing. I never thought I’d represent my school in this way when I first came to James Clemens.”
His community work has included helping families with COVID-19 and was part of an effort to raise over $1,000 in school supplies for the Downtown Rescue Mission. As for college, he does want to run on a college track team and has spoken to several schools for that purpose.
Claire Congo nearly missed her junior season of soccer at James Clemens when she became severely dehydrated and doctors weren’t sure of what was causing her condition. After at least two months of battling fatigue, she finally got her health condition under control and played her season that was cut short last spring due to COVID-19 and is looking to her senior season next spring as a way to make up for her shortage of play over the last year.
“I found out I won the award when I received an e-mail from the Heisman Award committee and I was really surprised and excited as the award shows my hard work has paid off,” said Congo, daughter of Brent and Christina Congo. “I immediately sent my family group message the news.”
Congo carries a 4.72 grade point average, which puts her No. 25 among the 514 seniors at James Clemens. She will attend Auburn University with academic scholarships where she will study nutrition science. She indicated her dream job is to become an orthodontist and has already prepped for her college studies as part of the James Clemens’ Bio-Medical Academy with an internship. She’s a member of several clubs and honor societies and won the Ms. James Clemens Award. She’s also a part of the Distinguished Young Woman of Madison County and will soon compete in state competition and has gone through extensive interview training for that award.
“I volunteer at my church and its youth camp and have assisted with the North Alabama Food Bank and at Madison Hospital,” said Congo. “For a hobby, I do hand lettering and make greeting cards for friends.”