Student-Athlete of the Month: Jay'Den Birch, Riverview High School
SARASOTA (SNN-TV) - It's time now for this season's first Student Athlete of the Month, brought to you by Carl Reynolds Law. This month's recipient is a young man who is a beast in the weight room, on the field, and especially in the classroom.
Riverview running back Jay'Den Birch is soft spoken, but hyper focused when it comes to competition and academics. In the Rams first three games, the senior running back has rushed for 315 yards and two touchdowns helping Riverview to a 2 and 1 start.
But for Birch, not all of his success comes on the field, a large portion comes from the classroom. where he touts a 4,4 GPA in the IB program, the highest academic track at Riverview. And for Birch, academics come first in terms of importance.
"The academics really is bigger than the athletic part. Academics opens up a whole bunch of different avenues. Sports is just like a Plan-B sort of. It's an addition to school. So, really you should focus on academics first before anything."
A work-ethic and dedication like Jay'Den's isn't developed overnight, those around him rave about the character his possesses. and one of those who notices is Riverview Head Coach Joshua Smithers. Smithers knows Jay'Den's upbringing influences his actions.
"He comes from a great family, both parents are extremely supportive. Academics are important to them, so it's important to him."
And following a year where he played more of a bench role and one where he was riddled with injuries, Birch took the starting mantle this season, and never second guessed anything when doing so.
"It's not really nothing I'm not ready for, I've been doing it. Just sometimes you got to take the back roads. That's how life is, it's ups and downs, you got to be ready for it."
When watching Birch compete on the field and excel in the classroom, Coach Smithers explains that Jay'Den's effort and mindset concerning both, really isn't that much different.
"He approaches the game the same way he approaches the classroom, the same way he approaches life. He goes 100% in everything he does and excels at it."
Moving forward pursuing both his athletic and academic dreams, Birch hopes those who follow his footsteps realize, one cannot exist without the other.
"Around here, there's been a lot of people that have been great on the field, but in school they were nothing, and really, where did they go after that? Just look on that and learn from their mistakes."
Jay'Den is currently fielding offers from Ivy League and Patriot League schools, and will add to that list throughout the season. In college, he plans to pursue a degree in Agriculture in hopes of opening his own business involving crop production and livestock.