Athlete of the Week : Gianni Smith and Charlize Shields

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Two seniors, Gianni Smith and Charlize Shields were chosen as the athletes of the week for the first week of September. Smith is the quarterback of the Oak Park High School football team, and Shields is the team captain and middle blocker of the OPHS girls’volleyball team.

Coach Casey Webb selected Smith because he “threw 5 touchdowns, ran 94 yards and kicked 4 PATS.”

According to Smith, though he enjoyed the game, he didn’t “really want [to be athlete of the week].”

“I didn’t accept the shirt, I gave it to my friend because I didn’t like the fact that they gave it to me. You know, I wasn’t the only person on the field who did it. I threw for five touchdownds which was nice, but I didn’t do it all by myself,” Smith said.

Smith says he has always had a passion for a sports.

“I always wanted to play football as a kid, cause I’ve loved playing sports since I could walk. And then, in eighth grade, Coach Jay convinced both my parents to let me play, and ever since then I’ve just fallen in love with the sport,” Smith said.

Smith’s passion grew into something he wants to pursue professionally.

“Since freshman year, I’ve wanted to make being a professional football player my career. I’ve always enjoyed playing sports, and for whatever reason, playing football resonates with me a lot more than the other sports,” Smith said.

Smith appreciates the “brotherhood” within the football games.

“It’s a team I’ve never really had before just because every other team that I’ve had was a little bit more selfish, a little bit more self-absorbed. I’ve never really had guys who will stand there and say, ‘Yeah this is a brotherhood, this is actually a family.’ It means a lot that I’ve got people that will step up and have my back whenever I need them, and I’ll do the same for them,” Smith said.

Shields was chosen by Coach Kendall Bilbruck for “doing really well in our last few matches and over the weekend at the Camarillo tournament.”

“I was honestly shocked, it feels good. It’s cool because hardwork is being paid off, being recognized,” Shields said.

Shields was influenced by her experience in the Oak Park Unified School District’s Physical Education program.

“I remembered doing it in PE and it was really fun. I didn’t think I was going to make it [onto the team], but I still tried out cause it was fun and I ended up being on the team,” Shields said.

Shields believes the volleyball team works to unify different types of people.

“It’s really nice to be a part of a group and we all have the same goal. We’re all from different groups. We have the girls who have more friends and some who just have a couple friends but we all just come together and, social status put aside, we all get along,” Shields said.