Bakersfield Jockey Club rides up the canyon to deliver awards

These 12 athletes pictured here were selected to be honored by the Bakersfield Jockey Club in a presentation that was held at Paradise Cove. Submitted Photo

Story by Ray Conner

It’s been quite some time since Kern Valley High School athletes have been recognized for their athletic, academic, and character efforts by the Bakersfield Jockey Club. 

Back story, The Bakersfield Jockey Club has been around for close to 60 years. The last time a Kern Valley athlete was honored by the BJC was 1987 when Kenny Bushling was selected for his football prowess and the character traits that make you stand out. 

Fast forward to 2024, and the BJC came up the canyon for breakfast and the presentation of a plaque for 12 Kern Valley athletes. These athletes were nominated by their coaches and the KV athletic director. Close to 60 people filled Paradise Cove to be part of this celebration of our local athletes.

After breakfast, which was donated entirely for all those present by Pam Smith of Paradise Cove. This began the day of honor. The BJC committee was personable and proud that they could make this trip to present these awards to the deserving athletes. The group in itself was glad this had come about.

The 12 Kern Valley Bronc athletes that were recognized on this day were Jessie Bunting-Basketball, Mitra Kiosef-Tennis/Soccer, Kassandra Guarneros-Soccer/Track, Kayley Sietsma Soccer/Softball and Audrey Martinez-Softball, Ruby Hawkins-Volleyball, Aspen Hacker-Cross Country/Track, Jack Montgomery-Cross Country/ Soccer, Chris Lopez-Football/Baseball, Kyle Espinoza-Denys-Football/Track, Ed Bunting-Football/Basketball, and Ryan Prince-Wrestling.

Their coaches made the presentations. The presenters were Bill Gallis, Brent Mixon, Jamie Duran, Kenny Bushling, Mike Genthner, Scott Tedrow, and Wes Woody.

The glowing accolades from the coaches about these individual multi-sport athletes filled the room and collectively they voiced that these athletes deserved to be here. Some of the accolades were spoken of were leadership and being an inspiration to others. 

In turn the athletes had their say and they thanked their parents, the coaches, Alan Paradise, the BJC and Pam Smith for the breakfast that was provided.

Speaking with Karen Odle of the BJC, who has been a member for 12 years and is the executive director took a moment to say, “This is the first time we’ve been in the Kern River Valley to hand out these awards. The Bakersfield Jockey Club almost was a thing of the past. For different reasons, there were only two members left. A group came together and revived the BJC and now they have a good following of members and volunteers.” 

The BJC does monthly presentations, but mostly they take place in Bakersfield. They are a volunteer, non-profit organization that honors local high school and college student athletes. The hope of all involved is to make this an annual tradition.

Those current Kern Valley athletes that were selected to receive this award, hopefully, have set the stage for the future student-athletes to become part of this group.