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Thomas Jefferson's Hinkle a natural recipient for Outstanding Young Citizen honor

| Wednesday, April 24, 2013, 9:00 p.m.

Thomas Jefferson senior Jesse Hinkle is having a banner year, both athletically and academically.

Hinkle recently was awarded the Trib Total Media's Outstanding Young Citizen Gold Medal award, in addition to winning the Wendy's Heisman award for her school.

The tri-sport athlete started for the Thomas Jefferson girls' volleyball and basketball teams, and currently is competing in track and field. She also served as a team captain in volleyball and basketball.

“I just try to be the best influence I can on (my teammates,) and show them it's not always about winning,” Hinkle said. “It's about trying your best. They just really look up to you on the team, so it's important to have good relationships with everybody.”

If her performances in her previous seasons are any indication of how she will round out her senior year, there is a good chance it will be a success.

A steady force on the volleyball team, Hinkle provided consistent play and could supply support in any position.

“She's one of those girls where you aren't sure where she's going to contribute,” said Ron Kelly, TJ's head volleyball coach. “Then, she contributed in a lot of ways being that middle blocker and being the backup middle. She always improved, and that made a difference.”

In the midst of her final high school track and field season, Hinkle threw the javelin 120 feet, 7 inches in a recent 92-58 victory over Elizabeth Forward. Her longest toss to date, it landed her at the top of the WPIAL.

Hinkle went on to throw a 120-3 at the cold and windy Tri-State Track Coaches Association outdoor championships held Saturday at West Mifflin High School.

Thomas Jefferson is slated to compete today, Thursday, in the Big South Classic.

“(Hinkle) improves every week,” said Kevin Gennaula, co-head coach of TJ's track and field program. “She has reached her personal best of over 120 (feet). We are expecting some really good things out of her the rest of the way.”

In addition to athletics, Hinkle is involved in the Girl Scouts and local charity events. Her biggest contribution is to the Multiple Sclerosis Walk in Greensville.

Hinkle has raised $100 for the past 10 years in honor of a family friend.

As an independent Girl Scout, she helps with local food and clothing drives, while working toward her gold award.

Hinkle plans to attend Chatham University for occupational therapy. She also plans to play basketball and compete in the javelin event in college.

“She was raised the right way,” Gennaula said. “She does what needs to be done. She wants to please a lot of people and that's just the type of person she is.

“Every day she'll have a smile on her face. She doesn't quit on things.”

Brittany Goncar is a freelance writer.

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