Senior athletes Luis Rodriguez, Toni Frino and Kangee Wilson have been chosen as scholar athletes by state and county governing bodies. All three plan to continue with athletics in college. 

 

By Gary Miller

Three Linden High School student athletes have been recognized for their excellence in the classroom as well as on the field of play.

Toni Frino was selected by the New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association to win a prestigious state Scholar Athlete Award, which is given to a student athlete who maintains at least a 3.0 grade-point average and exhibits outstanding school and community citizenship.

Luis Rodriguez and Kangee Wilson were selected as the LHS representatives to the Union County Scholar Athletes program. They will be celebrated at the annual by the Union County Interscholastic Athletic Conference as awards dinner on May 23 at The Westwood in Garwood.

“Toni, Kangee and Luis represent the best of Linden Public Schools and what all our student athletes strive for,” said Superintendent Danny A. Robertozzi. “Rather than being at odds with academics, our Athletic Department strives to enhance the school experience for our students and complement our classroom curriculum. These scholar athletes – and hundreds of others — embody that goal.”

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Frino, who is a captain on the volleyball and softball teams at LHS, was named first-team and second-team All-County volleyball in her junior and senior seasons, respectively.

She plans to attend Fairleigh Dickinson University with a partial scholarship and major in nursing. She also plans to continue playing volleyball in college, and has a tryout for the team this summer. Frino was also accepted to Monmouth, Montclair State and William Paterson universities.

She said athletics helps keep her on schedule, which helps her in her studies.

“With sports, I go to school, then I go to practice or a game, then right after I have to do my homework,” she said. “But at the same time, it’s more stressful because by the time I get home I’m exhausted.”

Frino studies English in the rigorous International Baccalaureate program, is in the high school Peer Pals club, and volunteers with the Clark Emergency Medical Squad and as a police academy instructor and volleyball coach.

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Rodriguez, who was a captain on the football, basketball and volleyball teams for Linden, will go to Bloomfield College on a full basketball scholarship. He was also accepted to William Paterson and Midway universities and Daemen College.

He said he may also run track in college, but for now will just concentrate on basketball. He plans to major in animal science and says his favorite class in high school was zoology.

“I’m an animal guy, I always have been,” Rodriguez said. “We learned a lot of cool stuff in zoology class.”

Rodriguez is also Student Council president, a leader in the Peer Group Connection, a member of Peer Pals, played host to a French exchange student, is a member of the Civil War Roundtable, and volunteered with the basketball team to help paint a nursing home.

He said balancing studies and athletics is a matter of setting your mind to it.

“It’s not bad as long as you tell yourself, ‘This is what I have to do,’” he said. “Then get it done.”

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Wilson, who is a two-year captain on the girls track and field and cross-country teams, will be attending the College of St. Rose in Albany on a track and field and academic scholarship. She plans to study graphic design. She studies art under the International Baccalaureate program at Linden High, which is far more rigorous than a typical art class.

“You have to work a lot on your time management skills, because they have a lot of deadlines and lot of things they ask for in a short amount of time,” said Wilson, who received a perfect score for her IB artwork at this year’s Union County Teen Arts Festival and maintains a 3.5 grade-point average.

In 2017, Wilson was a silver medalist in the 400-meter hurdles at the Union County Conference Track & Field Championship, Watchung Division. In 2018, Kangee and her 400-meter hurdle relay team won gold at the Mounties Relays as well as the Hudson County Track Coaches Association Relays.

She is also in the Poetry Club, Art Club, and Anime Club, and volunteers as a youth track coach.

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All three seniors said they were surprised by their honors, but felt like it validated their years of hard work when they weren’t sure if anyone was noticing.

“I know that there are a lot of student-athletes in the school, and to be the one chosen out of the bunch here, that’s pretty surprising thing,” Rodriguez said.

“It’s like all my hard work is paying off.”