Skabelund receives NIAA’s top honor |

Skabelund receives NIAA’s top honor

Thomas Ranson
Fallon senior Whitney Skabelund discusses receiving the NIAA's Top 10 Student-Athlete honor Wednesday night at the Peppermill in Reno.
Thomas Ranson / LVN |

RENO — Since moving from New Mexico before her sophomore year, Fallon senior Whitney Skabelund has been a force on the court, in the arena and more importantly in the classroom.

Skabelund, who was a first-team all-region and all-state selection in volleyball last fall and will defend her two state jumping titles next month, was recognized with nine other Northern Nevada student-athletes in Wednesday night’s Nevada Interscholastic Activities Association Top Ten Student-Athletes of the Year ceremony at the Peppermill.

“Sports has taught me that even in hard times when things seem impossible or hopeless, or you’re just tired, you can always push through with a little bit of grit and a smile on your face. I love sports,” said Skabelund, who became the fifth consecutive Fallon student-athlete to earn the honor.

The Utah State-bound star proved in her short time in Fallon that she will go down as one of the best local all-around student-athletes. Skabelund will graduate with an associate’s degree next month because of the Jump Start program and she ranks No. 1 in her high school class of 232 students. She also maintains a 4.15 weighted grade-point average (4.00 non-weighted).

“I’m very proud of her because she has a great work ethic,” Carmen Skabelund, Whitney’s mother, said. “She is highly self-motivated and strives for excellence in everything she does. She’s just a hard worker. She loves what she does. She loves it so much that’s why she works so hard at it.”

Lettering in two sports, working two jobs, carrying a junior college and high school academic workload and volunteering with various organizations, as well as her church, would scare off most.

But not this Fallon senior.

“You hope that high school prepares people for a happy and productive life and that requires, of course, academic performance,” Whitney’s father, Hoyt, said. “Whitney is driven, gets up early for her seminary classes for the church and she stays late for practices.”

Prioritizing and time management played a key role in helping Whitney succeed since her junior year when she enrolled in Jump Start.

“Just prioritizing my life was something I had to learn, especially, in the last two years since Jump Start and athletics,” she said. “Two jobs, athletics and school are definitely hard. If you prioritize, sometimes you have to sacrifice the relaxation of watching TV but it’s worth it in the end for grades and for athletic positions.”

And it’s a good life lesson, which her parents hope lead their daughter to even greater success after she graduates from Fallon.

“What I love about athletics is people who only do academics miss out on the preparation that athletics gives you that’s real life,” Hoyt said. “I think that the ups and downs, the high points and low points of athletics, are as much a practical preparation for life in anything. For Whitney having excelled at both, it sets her up for big success. I hope she gives back in her entire life to her own children and teaches the same principles and hopefully to many, many others’ children. Maybe, she’ll be a coach one day.”

Sports has also taught Whitney to relish in her teammates’ success and drive them to overcome the same hurdles.

“How to be excited for someone else’s success,” said Whitney, who looks to medal in both the high and triple jumps and 100-meter and 300 hurdles. “Seeing a teammate on the track break a (personal record), something like that, feels so much better than anything I could ever do individually.”