IMG Academy Student-Athlete of the Week

IMG Academy features a “Student-Athlete of the Week” award while class is in session. Students are nominated based purely on academic achievements and are chosen by a committee of educators from our boarding school.

Meet Our Students

Will Huggins

Will Huggins, a senior student-athlete, receives this week's Student Athlete of the Week nomination for his continued commitment on both the football field and in the classroom. The 6'2" wide receiver traveled from California to join the IMG family "to better himself as a student-athlete." Huggins is encouraged by the high level of sports and education in Bradenton, and he's also found enjoyment through extracurricular activities, such as the Chess Club and National Honor Society, in both of which he's the President. He plans to graduate in 2018 with an aspiration to compete at the collegiate level while studying Mechanical Engineering. Beyond his Bachelors, Huggins also seeks a PhD in Aerospace Engineering. Huggins currently aids the football team through the 2017 season, as the Ascenders hold a 5-0 record thus far. When he's not on the field, he's enjoying physics class or English with Mr. Russo, who enjoys having Huggins among his students. "Will is one of the most motivated and expansive students I have ever taught," Russo said. "He tries his best at everything equally, whether the task is writing an essay, helping others understand a concept, or being president of the NHS." Earning Student Athlete of the Week is a testament to Huggins' continued passion for any task ahead, both in athletics and academics.

Alex Anderson

Senior Alex Anderson earns Student-Athlete of the week based on his efforts as a student, his enthusiasm for the Ascender community, and his dedication towards his commitments. Anderson joined the IMG Academy family four years ago and plans to graduate in 2018 with hopes of pursuing a degree in either Political Science, Economics, or Spanish. While his mother played college tennis, Anderson's path as a soccer player aligns with his father's, who competed as a collegiate athlete as well. He aspires to also compete in college and hopes to be a foreign policy adviser when he's older. Anderson enjoys going to class daily because he recognizes that his teachers really care about him as an individual. His favorite teacher, Mrs. Jaksetic, has been able to work with Anderson in class three times over his time in Bradenton. "Alex has a positive attitude that is contagious in the classroom," Jaksetic said. "His motivation to understand every concept, his sense of humor, and the excellent questions he asks not only help him excel in academics, but these qualities help lift up the other students around him as well." Upon enrolling at IMG Academy, Anderson believes that his perspective on the world has changed due to his immersion with so many international classmates and teammates. His favorite part of being an Ascender has been having the chance to connect with so many different people, and his favorite memory thus far has been winning IMG Cup.

Justin Grondahl

Justin Grondahl recognizes that the best advice he's ever received was to learn to appreciate what you have before time makes you appreciate what you had. And, in his first year at IMG Academy, it's already so apparent that this week's Student Athlete of the Week has taken that knowledge to heart. Grondahl's biggest inspiration to work hard in school is his mother because she was valedictorian at her high school, and he's working diligently to become bother a professional golfer and a businessman. With his favorite class currently being Economics, Grondahl enjoys all that comes with being a student-athlete. Noting his favorite teacher as Ms. Brown, she also enjoys having Grondahl in class because of his passion for the subject. "When Justin is in class I can see the passion he has for business and economics," she said. "He shows his entrepreneurial spirit daily with his innovative ideas towards the industry.” He's learning to balance the practices, tournaments, and travel time with his school work, studies, and other extracurricular activities. Grondahl even enjoys hockey, Jiu Jitsu, go-karting, pool, and ping pong when he's not putting on the green. Most recently, Grondahl competed in the IMGJGT North Shore GC and holds the 1st place trophy for the Boys 15-18 group. It's clear that Grondahl has settled into Bradenton and being a student-athlete and is thriving both on the range and in the classroom.

Arya Sreeramaneni

Arya Sreeramaneni came to IMG Academy "to get better as a player and to grow as a person." In her first year as a junior basketball student-athlete, Arya has shown her passion for growth in the classroom and her willingness to succeed and improve on the court. Because of her resilient efforts, Sreeramaneni earns this week's Student Athlete of the Week. With her active campus involvement in organizations like the Key Club and National Honors Society, Sreeramaneni is branching out on campus in her first year as a student-athlete. She even recognizes that being here has already "made [her] more competitive." Her interests lie in the science department, with her favorite class being chemistry and her goal for a college major of Pre-Med. Her dreams beyond college are to either be a cardiac surgeon or a pediatric cardiologist. It's no wonder Sreerameneni has adapted so well to the competitive level on campus, both through sport and through school. Her coach, DeRonte Polite, notices her incredible representation of the values of IMG Academy.  "Arya holds herself to high standards and willingly endures whatever is needed to achieve her aspirations," Polite said. "This is true of her on the basketball court and in the classroom, which speaks to her being a great representation of what it means to be an Ascender." Most notably, Sreeramaneni enjoys the diversity and the environment in Bradenton. "When I first came here, I didn't know exactly what my role was on the team, but now I feel like I do and that I fit in well," she said.

Regan LaBelle

As an active on-campus student-athlete through girls soccer and several student activities clubs, Regan LaBelle earns this week's Student Athlete of the Week during her senior year. LaBelle came to IMG Academy six years ago and has excelled through academics, athletics, and on-campus involvement. She's the President of UNICEF and Model United Nations, a chapter founder of I Am That Girl, and an active member of Student Ambassadors, Key Club, and Student Athlete Activities Committee (SAACT). LaBelle has grown to enjoy all of her teachers at IMG Academy, with her favorite subject being history "because it's a reflection of our future." She seeks to study international law in college and then go into global business and political consulting. LaBelle is inspired to continue working hard in school "because [she] wants to be successful in [her] profession." As a senior, LaBelle is enjoying her last year on campus and has loved being involved with the international student body. We look forward to seeing LaBelle's continued success as student-athlete through 2018 and also her steps towards the next level.

Payton Saca

Junior Payton Saca receives Student Athlete of the Week recognition because of her consistent efforts as a tennis player and student at IMG Academy. Saca traveled to Bradenton from California for the great experience and to be able to attend her college of choice in regards to both academics and athletics. Saca's inspiration for working hard in school is to "play tennis at a high level D1 school," and she feels her grades will also be of assistance to competing at the next level as well. She is enjoying the fitness programs along with the competitive atmosphere within IMG Academy. Saca plans to pursue a business degree upon entering college, and her favorite subject currently is science "because [she] finds it very interesting." She also enjoys talking to her family about the subject. Saca is involved with the Student Activities Club and Spirit Club, and she's enjoying her on-campus involvement with her classmates and teammates. She believes that IMG Academy "has taught [her] to be more mature, stay on top of [her] work on [her] own, and to take accountability." Congratulations to Saca on her accomplishments and involvement as a student-athlete!

Stone Russell

With a background rooted in athletics, Stone Russell came to IMG Academy with the mindset that the contrast between academics and athletics would enable him to achieve his goals. And, because of his efforts, Russell is this week's Student Athlete of the Week. "I'm inspired to work hard in school so that I can get good grades and get into a good college and continue to play my sport," Russell said. His mother was a collegiate swimmer at TCU, and his father was an MLB player for the Phillies, Braves, and Rangers. In such an active family, Russell enjoys bettering his game and his studies from Bradenton. His favorite subject is math "because math never lies." Russell has incredible aspirations for his next steps, in addition to his dreams of studying sport management upon entrance to college and becoming a professional baseball player as well. Currently, he's enjoying the school schedule at IMG Academy and "how willing the teachers are to help." Along with being inspired by his goals, Russell is also driven because of his father. "He inspires me to work hard every day so that I can get to where he is as a person and athlete," Russell said.

Kyra Foster

Kyra Foster traveled from Fort Wayne, IN. to join the IMG Academy family as a girls tennis student-athlete, and her impact on her coaches, teachers, and classmates has been ever so impressive! Because of her efforts and her involvement, Foster earns this week's Student Athlete of the Week. Coming to IMG Academy to prepare for her next steps, Foster had one ultimate goal behind her decision. "Between a college prep curriculum and an unbeatable tennis program, there is no better place to prepare myself for competing at the next level," she said. Foster hopes to enroll at a strong academic institution and study nutrition, science, and epidemiology upon her graduation in 2019. Beyond college, she's eye a position as a primary care physician as well. Currently, she's enjoying biology and its intriguing curriculum, and her favorite teacher is Mrs. Jaksetic. "Kyra is a tenacious AP Biology student," Jaksetic said. "She works tirelessly to meet her goals in the course while always maintaining a positive attitude." When asked about her favorite part of being in Bradenton, Foster said, "the teachers and coaches are incredibly supportive. They want success for you as much as you want it for yourself." And our student-athletes, like Foster, definitely are seeking to be the best they can be. Foster recognizes that she's become a more disciplined student-athlete, and she's been learning to balance school, tennis, and her recovery. We are looking forward to continuing to watch Foster grow as both a student and a tennis player during her time on campus. Congratulations on your achievement!

Trinity Wright

Trinity Wright, a sophomore girls basketball student athlete, earned this week's honor of being Student Athlete of the Week! Wright is incredibly involved on campus and takes her studies and her training very seriously. One of the reasons Wright decided to attend IMG Academy was because it's "a schools that's diverse and competitive and allows me to be the best student athlete." Originally, Wright was the youngest player in the girls basketball program, but she's been working hard to play a major role as a Guard on the team. With her father being the head football coach and her mother being the Middle School principal, Wright's family is very active on campus and supportive of the Ascenders in every area. Currently, Wright's favorite subject is chemistry because "it's very interesting but challenging at the same time." She hopes to be an anesthesiologist when she grows up, and her favorite teacher is Mrs. Kite, an art teacher. "Trinity is an honest, sincerely kind, beautifully strong and creative individual, Kite said. "She is independent, respectful to all and works hard on her academics as well as exhibiting healthy competitiveness in the classroom and on the basketball court. She very much deserves the honor of being this week's student athlete!" Wright has noticed that IMG Academy has "increased [her] awareness for time management and the importance of discipline towards [her] studies." Her biggest inspiration to keep working hard is her Grandma because "she has always had to work hard in her life and inspires [her] to do my best."

Beatrice Juskeviciute

Beatrice Juskeviciute recently earned earned four slots inside Florida Runner's Top 50 seniors rankings: #14 for the Girls 100M Hurdles, #19 slot for the Long Jump, #36 for the High Jump, and #26 for Shot Put - impressive! Also earning Student Athlete of the Week, Juskeviciute continues to succeed both on and off the track. Originally from Lithuania, Juskeviciute traveled to the states for IMG Academy's track and field program, the coaches, new experiences, and the people. She's been intrigued by the different classes and teachers and notices an improvement in her English skills, which, in turn, has given her more confidence. With her sights set on attending a good college at the next level, Juskeviciute has already been putting herself in a great position to do just that.

Sky Stefonic

Sky Stefonic earns this week Student Athlete of the Week as a junior football player who has been part of the IMG Academy family for two years. He's been enjoying the on-campus atmosphere and enjoys competing in football and the class schedule as well. Mr. Gubernat, Stefonic's favorite teacher, believes he's deserving of being Student Athlete of the Week. "Sky is a serious and dedicated student who enjoys the challenge of learning and brings amazing energy to class," he said. "He is humble and personable. He is a natural leader in the classroom. Congrats Sky!"

Kieren Collins

Kieren Collins, a current junior baseball student-athlete, enrolled at IMG Academy with incredible aspirations, and he's made an incredible impact on his coaches, teachers, teammates, and the entire community around him. Collins earns this week's Student Athlete of the Week for his hard work and willingness to put in 110% in every area of interest. Collins chose IMG Academy because he "loves baseball, and IMG gave me the best change to play at the next level." He recognizes that IMG Academy has pushed him both academically and athletically, but it has enabled him to become a better student and athlete with this challenge as well. We're happy to provide Collins with this honor and look forward to seeing where his passion takes him!

Chol Marial

Chol Marial, a 7'2" junior who plays Center for the boys basketball program, came to IMG Academy from South Sudan, Rumbek. Marial has certainly made an immediate impact on the program, both from the athletic and academic side of the Academy. Marial earns this week's Student Athlete of the Week because of his determination to always keep improving both on the court and in the classroom. Marial recognizes that IMG Academy has made him more social, and he's greatly enjoying the environment in Bradenton. 

Maya Haghighi

Maya Haghighi decided that IMG Academy would be the best fit for her to achieve her dreams, and, because of her efforts and determination to recover from knee surgery, she earns this week's Student Athlete of the Week. Haghighi came to IMG Academy for the competitive environment and because everything is all on one campus, and it's surely paying off.

As a brilliant student as well a soccer player, Haghighi realizes that IMG Academy has made her more responsible, yet she stills enjoying being around her friends and playing soccer often. 

Natheethorn Teacharuagchit

Natheethorn Teacharuagchit has attended IMG Academy for four years and has been challenging himself to perform well in the classroom, on the course, and in his community. He's made an effort to get to know everyone on campus and has made a direct impact with his fellow Ascenders. He said that his favorite thing about IMG Academy is that the "teachers understand that life of student-athletes are different from other normal kids." The Thailand-native earns this week's Student Athlete of the Week!

F.N.U. (Top) Nidunjianzan 

F.N.U. (Top) Nidunjianzan came to IMG Academy for "better sports and more competition," and he's since had an impact on everyone around him. Top traveled from China to attend IMG Academy, and he earns this week's Student Athlete of the Week. He's been enjoying the competitive nature of the entire campus and feels that IMG Academy has allowed him to understand more about the world. Congratulations on earning this honor!

Claire Mills

Claire Mills joined IMG Academy as a member of the inaugural girls lacrosse team, and she's made a lasting impact on the community around her. Mills committed to play lacrosse at Johns Hopkins University upon graduation, and she's been making every moment last as a senior. This week, she earns Student Athlete of the Week, as she's impressed her coaches, teachers, and advisors with her hard work. Mills believes IMG Academy "has taught [her] many lessons, like the importance of time management and hard work." Thankful to her parents for providing her the opportunity to achieve her dreams from Bradenton, Mills cherishes the integration of school and sport and the college-like experience at IMG Academy. 

Wendy Guan

Originally from Taiwan, Wendy Guan took full advantage of the opportunities in Bradenton and continues to shine as an Ascender. As this week's Student Athlete of the Week, we've learned more about her involvement on campus and her passion for basketball, photography, and school! Guan chose IMG Academy because "the integration of academics and sports is hard to find anywhere else, and [she] didn't have to give up one or the other by coming here."

Guan is a member of Key Club, National Honors Society (NHS), and Student Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC.) She's also enjoying volunteering for the special olympics tennis and Adopt a Block. Guan says her favorite thing about IMG ACademy is "the way that the staff collectively supports the student body." She believes school has changed her as a person because "school cultivates my thought process, and it taught me to approach situations with an open mind and seek solutions critically."

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