Hudson Valley Community College baseball student-athlete, Jackson Wenstrom was named the 2019 recipient of the NJCAA Lea Plarski Award. Wenstrom becomes the first Hudson Valley student-athlete to receive this prestigious award.
The Lea Plarski award is presented annually to an NJCAA student-athlete who exemplifies sportsmanship, leadership, community service, academic excellence and athletic ability.
Wenstrom arrived to Hudson Valley in the Fall of 2017 from Mandan, North Dakota as a non-traditional student after serving in the United States Army. Jackson had aspirations to play a collegiate sport and eventually landed with the Vikings baseball program after a successful walk-on tryout.
During his career with the Vikings, Jackson has been an outstanding individual and team leader. He became the Vikings all-time home run king earlier this season during the program's annual spring trip to Florida and closed out his successful career with a .418 batting average, 23 home runs and 103 RBI, which is third most in program history.
In his first season with the Vikings, Jackson was named a NJCAA First Team All-American, Rawlings Gold Glove recipient, NJCAA Region 3 Player of the Year, NJCAA Region 3 Defensive Player of the Year and the Mountain Valley Conference Player of the Year. Jackson finished the season with a.462 batting average, .542 on-base percentage, 14 home runs, 47 RBI, 61 hits and 15 doubles. He ranked inside the top-10 nationally in batting average, on-base percentage, home runs and RBI. He also led the country with a .909 slugging percentage.
During his final season with Hudson Valley, Wenstrom captained the Vikings to a 22-11 record and guided the team through coaching staff changes a month prior to the start of the season. On his way to becoming the Vikings all-time home run leader, Jackson finished 2019 with a team-leading nine home runs and 45 RBI.
Jackson also excelled academically, as he was one of three Hudson Valley student-athletes to receive the 2019 SUNY Chancellor's Scholar Athlete Award, the highest honor given to a student-athlete in the State University of New York. The award recognizes a combination of outstanding academic excellence and superior athletic achievement.
Wenstrom also encouraged his team to give a little extra back to the local community, including fun projects like sodding an infield for Green Island Little League and volunteering at local youth baseball camps. In addition to community service with the baseball team, Jackson was the President of the Student Athletes Leading Together (SALT), a Hudson Valley Community College sponsored organization that spearheaded community service projects like buying gifts for an adopted family through Ronald McDonald House Charities.
Jackson graduated from Hudson Valley with a degree in exercise science with both Dean's List and President's List honors and was a member of Phi Theta Kappa during his two years at Hudson Valley.
Jackson leaves Hudson Valley as one of the greatest hitters in program history and has signed a National Letter of Intent to continue his academic and athletic career with Florida Atlantic University, a NCAA Division 1 program.
Director of Athletics Justin Hoyt on Wenstrom:"There is no greater sacrifice than serving our country, and to have done so, and to have the will and determination to succeed in the classroom, on the field, and as a campus community leader is what is most impressive. Jackson is the epitome of what you look for in a student-athlete and checks all the boxes. This is the first time our institution has ever won this award, and there is no one more deserving of this honor than Jackson." – Justin Hoyt
Coach Altieri on Jackson: "Jackson is the consummate student-athlete a college athletic program would want and needs, and he perfectly fits the profile for this prestigious honor. He spent two years demonstrating hard work, dedication, leadership and truly defining being a good teammate while also achieving high academic standards and positively impacting the college's community. We are proud of him to be recognized as the Lea Plarski Award winner." -Joe Altieri
About the Lea Plarski Award: Created in 1995, the Lea Plarski Award is presented annually to an NJCAA student-athlete who exemplifies sportsmanship, leadership, community service, academic excellence and athletic ability. The honor is named after former NJCAA Lea Plarski in recognition of her tremendous service to the association. The former director of athletics at St. Louis Community College - Florissant Valley (MO), Plarski was instrumental in establishing the Women's Division of the NJCAA in 1975 - the first national collegiate athletic organization to develop such a structure. She served as Vice President of the NJCAA Women's Division from 1975-90. In 1990 she was tabbed as NJCAA President, becoming the first woman to hold the top elected position in the association. Known for her tireless dedication to student-athletes, the Lea Plarski Award honors her numerous accomplishments and service to the NJCAA.