Three Lincoln student-athletes were recognized for their academic and community service records and athletic accomplishments May 31 at the annual Lincoln Downtown Athletic Club awards luncheon.
Josh Banderas, a three-sport letterman at Lincoln Southwest High School, was named the John P. Perkins Memorial Award $1,000 scholarship winner by the club. DJ Castillo, a standout wrestler at Lincoln High, and Lauren Works, a Super State basketball player and champion tennis player at Lincoln Southwest, tied for runner-up each received a $750 scholarship.
Banderas, best known for his success in football, was named Super State in 2011 and 2012. He was a 2012 finalist for the Butkus Award and a participant in the 2013 U.S. Army All-American Bowl. He also ran track, specializing in the 110 and 300 high hurdles, and lettered in bowling. Football coach Mark King calls him a good leader, strong, fast and smart. He carries a 3.47 grade point average, and has helped coach the Lincoln Youth Track Club in the Lincoln Midget Football League. He plans to play football at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln this fall.
DJ Castillo was a four-year letterwinner in wrestling and a three-year qualifier for state. He was team captain for two years and state champion in 2013, ending his season with a 37-0 record. His 3.3 GPA helped earn him the title of LPS Scholar Athlete and to win the Melvin Simpson Wrestling Award. His coaches describe him as focused, positive, dedicated, mature, fearless, sportsmanlike, leader and role model. He also plans to continue his athletic career at UNL.
Works, averaged 16.9 points per game her senior year and was one of the top 3-point shooters in the state. She has a 4.45 GPA and plans to study medicine at Creighton University this fall. Her coach described her as a smart player who understands the game and knows how to make her teammates better.
Additional nominees for the John P. Perkins Memorial Award were: Emilie Johnson, Lincoln East; Riley Smith, Chelsea Naber and Micah Oetting, all of Lincoln Lutheran; Tom Schneider, Lincoln Pius X; Kylie Gokie, Lincoln Southwest; Madi Francis and Brandon Wallman, Lincoln Northeast; and Jaret Polivka and Alaina Henzel, both of Parkview Christian.
Guest speaker for the luncheon was Rhonda Blanford-Green, executive director of the Nebraska School Activities Association and the first black female to oversee a state activities association. Blanford-Green was an 11-time All-American for the Husker track team and served as captain of several U.S. teams that competed internationally. After 16 years with the Colorado School Activities Association, Blanford-Green came back to the home of her college alma mater because she said she likes the way the state puts student athletes in a position for success.
Blanford-Green encouraged the student athletes to take the skills they learned in high school, apply them at the college level, and then bring back their experiences to make a difference in the lives of others.
Each year the Lincoln Downtown Athletic Club selects awards three scholarships in honor of John P. Perkins, former member and president of what was formerly the Cosmopolitan Club of Lincoln. U.S. Bank generously funds the scholarships.