COVINGTON - Every once in a blue moon when an athlete comes to a school for his or her senior year and has a large impact on the athletic programs.
J'Quyra Moncur-Blue, the Citizen's 2009 Eastside Athlete of the Year, did it in three sports.
She started the year by making the varsity squad on a senior-laden softball team that finished in the top three in Class AAA.
As a member of the Lady Eagles basketball squad, Moncur-Blue helped give the Eastside girls their best finish in the past five years.
She also played a key role in Eastside girls track team's third-place finish in the Class AAA state meet with two individual first-place finishes.
"J'Quyra is kind of a laid-back person. She's not like 'rah-rah.' If she brought anything, it was that she made a lot of people calmer being around her," Eastside track coach Frankey Iverson said. "I knew what I had the first meet she was with us. She threw it (shot put) 40 feet her first throw (the other girls were throwing 25 to 28 feet). After that, I knew she was going to be pretty good. Just to have her as an addition was good. We got lucky. I'm glad she found Eastside."
At the state meet, Moncur-Blue gave Eastside 20 points on the first day, winning the shot put with a effort of 41 feet, 10 inches, and the discus with a throw of 126 feet, 5 inches - which was 9 feet, 2 inches better than second place.
"I've been working really hard with my AAU track program, Throw 1 Deep. We trained really hard and I worked really hard," Moncur-Blue said. "I went to the indoor nationals and became an All-American with 44 feet. After that, I wasn't throwing as far as I wanted to at state. I was just long enough to win state."
While playing basketball, Moncur-Blue averaged eight points, eight rebounds and two assists per game.
She was a big part of the Lady Eagles finishing with a record of 11-14, three games better than the previous season.
She started the season playing softball even though she did not get a lot of playing time. Moncur-Blue was able to help when she could, hitting a double and a home run in her 44 at-bats.
"When they needed me, I was able to get some hits and cheer them on," she said. "I hadn't played softball since I was in eighth grade."
Having moved from Miami, Moncur-Blue had been unable to participate in all three sports in Florida because of scheduling conflicts. Softball and track are both spring sports in Florida.
One thing that she noticed when she got to Eastside was the willingness to be accepted as a member of the team, even though she had not played with any of the other girls before.
"They were all nice and I met a lot of people. They welcomed me and I made a lot of friends," she said.
Moncur-Blue is taking her ability on the track to the West Coast, where she will attend Fresno State.
"It's very huge. My coach (at Fresno State) is a former Olympian and hall of fame thrower," she added. "She's so excited about me and I'm so excited to go there. I feel like great things are going to happen for me."
When Iverson was asked the last thing he would say to Moncur-Blue, he said he hopes that she doesn't take the opportunity she's getting at Fresno State for granted.
"This is a really big step, and I couldn't be more happy for her. Fresno State has a great program," Iverson said. "I would say to take this opportunity and run with it for as long as it would take her."
Manny Fils can be reached at email@example.com.
SideBar: Past winners
Past winners of the Citizen's Eastside Athlete of the Year Award:
· 1999: Chris Mattice
· 2000: Randy Allen
· 2001: Ryan Smith
· 2002: Courtney Castellana
· 2003: Clarence Smith
· 2004: Darrell Howard
· 2005: Megan Jeffords
· 2006: Caroline Dickey
· 2007: Catherine Lee
· 2008: Karl Williams