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By Jeff Pack

Bertschy, La Russa named Senior Athlete of the Year at Bonsall High


Last updated 6/17/2019 at 9:22am

Bonsall High School’s Sara La Russa and Daniel Bertschy have been named Senior Athlete of the Year at the school.

“You couldn't ask for better leaders with both a go-getter competitive attitude balanced with even-keeled, supportive temperaments with caring hearts,” Eric Hendy, athletic director at Bonsall High School, said.

La Russa began competing as a cross country runner in her freshman year earning Most Valuable Player awards that year and each year since.

“I was also in the competitive swim team through FAST at the time and wanted to build endurance and stamina through running to perform better in swimming,” La Russa said about going out for the cross country team initially. “I also thought it would be a great way to make new friends as a freshman in high school.”

Bertschy starred as a center on the basketball team and sprinter on the track and field team, he capped off his career with a first-team all league naming this past spring.

“I started playing basketball with my friends after school and during lunch and really enjoyed it,” Bertschy said about getting started in high school athletics. “I thought I’d like to grow my basketball skills on the court with an official team. I started track because all my friends were doing it, and I saw it as a way to help me stay in shape.”

Once she caught the running bug, La Russa embraced it, she said.

“I love running because you can do it anytime, anywhere,” she said. “You don't need any special equipment or a certain number of people to play, you just have to have the motivation to want to get out there and run.

“Competing has allowed me to build determination and diligence. Running also allows me to create personal goals to work toward in the future,” LaRussa said.

Bertschy said he enjoys being part of the team.

“I love playing basketball because everyone plays a role in success in the game and I liked my role,” he said. “I also like the team connections I’ve made with the players. I love doing track because it was a way to test myself physically and mentally as I had to push myself to the limit. Also, getting dinner after each meet was a nice bonus.”

And he also enjoys conquering the challenges and competition required.

“I love the challenge it brings,” Bertschy said. “One of my favorite things I did in basketball was getting rebounds which helped the team out a bunch both offensively and defensively. My favorite thing about track was trying to challenge myself to beat the next guy every single time.

“It was important for me to compete as an athlete because I like the challenge of facing others. I want to do my best in every part of life and doing sports was a way I can push myself more. I feel it makes people a better person as they learn diligence, responsibility, and teamwork which is what I feel I’ve gained from this experience,” he said.

La Russa is a member of the school’s Associated Student Body and served as the senior class president. She was also on the track and field team and competed on the swim team and played on the basketball team. She said she plans on running cross country and playing water polo in college.

She thanked her friends and parents for helping her through all of the sports she participated in and said she is proud of her academic performance while competing.

“I met three of my best friends my freshman year by joining cross country, and we’ve been running together ever since,” La Russa said. “My parents have always been very supportive of all that I do and encourage me to keep going.”

Bertschy plans on attending the University of California Irvine in the fall to pursue a bachelor’s degree in business administration. He said he also played soccer and golf in his freshman year and doesn’t plan to play basketball in college unless he joins a club team.

He said attending summer club at Brengle Terrace Park in Vista taught him the fundamentals of every sport he knows and also taught him to love sports in general.

He had plenty of people to thank as well.

“Calvin Hamilton helped make both the sports I did manageable when the teammates were annoying or when we were in a game,” Bertschy said when asked who inspired him. “I’d also like to shoutout all the basketball coaches I’ve had who taught me different things and helped me become the player I am.”

La Russa also thanked her coaches.

“Coach Greene has always been the cross country and track and field coach for Bonsall High School,” she said. “He has always pushed me to try harder every practice and every race. I cannot thank him enough for the support he has given me throughout these past four years.

“Coach Nunn was also the cross country and track & field coach during my freshman and sophomore year. He taught us all how to fight through the pain and struggles you face while running.

“My basketball coach, Coach Carell has also been a big influence on my life. He believed in every player and was determined to help us become strong, competitive players.

“Our athletic director, Coach Hendy has also been a big part of my high school athletic career. He would always come to our meets to cheer us on and was always very open-minded,” La Russa said.

Get to know La Russa and Bertschy

Favorite subject:

La Russa: “My favorite subject is environmental engineering because I have the opportunity to construct different machines as well as experiment with different chemicals. I love engineering and hope to study mechanical engineering in college.”

Bertschy: “My favorite subject in school is economics because I love learning about businesses and how to have a productive system.”

Favorite teacher:

La Russa: “My favorite teacher is my former history teacher, Mr. Costa, because he was always a very open-minded person and very hands-on. My favorite project we got to do in his class was building a Rube Goldberg machine and base it off events in World War II.”

Bertschy: “My favorite teacher is Dan Long who taught computer technology courses at Bonsall High School because he makes learning the very boring topics fun.”

Favorite Band/Musical Artist?

La Russa: “I really like The Growlers and anything surfer rock.”

Bertschy: None.

Favorite TV Show?

La Russa: “Friends”

Bertschy: “The Office”

Favorite Movie?

La Russa: “The Breakfast Club”

Bertschy: “Monty Python and the Holy Grail”

Favorite Book?

La Russa: “King Rules” by Alveda King

Bertschy: “Rich Dad, Poor Dad” by Robert Kiyosaki

Jeff Pack can be reached by email at


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