Gaelle Jones ’26 Earns Royal Athlete of the Year Award

Eighth-grade soccer, basketball, and lacrosse player Gaelle Jones ’26, of Maplewood, earned the Royal Athlete Award Monday, May 23, 2022, during Oak Knoll School of the Holy Child’s Middle School Sports Award celebration held on campus for students and coaches and parents.

The Royal Athlete Award is given annually as the highest athletic honor presented for Oak Knoll’s middle school athletics. It is merited by an individual who has consistently exhibited outstanding quality in both sportsmanship and athletic ability.

Jones’s coaches referred to her as a natural leader, a positive influence, always respectful, and willing to go out of her way to lift others up. Jones worked closely with the athletic department staff, serving as a two-year Athletic Council representative. She proved she was always willing to try something new, to step out of her comfort zone, and did not get discouraged by setbacks.

“It was an honor for me to win the Royal Athlete Award because it’s about more than just being an athlete,” said Jones. “It’s about representing yourself and Oak Knoll on and off the field. Whether it’s cheering your teammates on from the sidelines, having a great attitude on and off the field, bringing new ideas to the athletic council, or encouraging students to come to home and away games — these are all components that make up the Royal Athlete Award.”

Last year’s Royal Athlete Award winner Lilly Venezia’25, who spoke during this year’s Middle School Awards ceremony, said that Oak Knoll’s athletic program touches everyone in a special way, in every aspect of life.

“Looking back on this year, it is so evident that the Oak Knoll middle school athletic program has played such an important role in my athletic career as it built the foundation for what being a true team player actually means,” said Venezia. “It especially taught me that everything is worth it in the end, and nothing is really that bad when you have your teammates right beside you.”

The middle school sports program, which serves as the foundation to the varsity and junior varsity levels in Oak Knoll’s all-girls high school, includes cross country, field hockey, soccer, basketball, softball, and lacrosse offerings.

Congratulations, Gaelle!