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The Signal's Male Athlete of the Year: Canyon's Drew Wolitarsky

Posted: July 8, 2013 10:44 p.m.
Updated: July 8, 2013 10:44 p.m.

As a senior, Drew Wolitarsky set new career state receiving yards and receptions records in football, then he went on to win the Foothill League 100-meter championship race in track and field during the spring.

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Canyon High senior Drew Wolitarsky could have rested on his athletic year after having one of the greatest seasons for a wide receiver in Santa Clarita Valley history.

Instead he not only signed back up for track and field for a second varsity season — he went into it wholeheartedly.

As a junior, his track and field season ended prematurely and disappointingly because of an illness. Not that that was a motivator for the 2013 track and field season.

Instead there were other motivations, which we’ll allow one of his coaches to explain to you.

Wolitarsky was driven to have a memorable track and field season out of competition and thus he became the Foothill League’s 100-meter champion, edging the valley’s next best male athlete, Golden Valley’s Leon Jacobs, and was on the Foothill runner-up 4x100 relay team.

Now to the heart of his already well-documented season.

Wolitarsky was All-CIF-Southern Section Northern Division, Cal Hi Sports All-State second team, All-Santa Clarita Valley and All-Foothill League.

He made 89 catches for 1,275 yards in 2012, which made him the state’s all-time career prep leader in receiving yards (5,147) and receptions (281). He also committed to play football for the University of Minnesota.

Now he is The Signal’s 2012-13 Male Athlete of the Year.

Allow those who know him best to explain his year.

Rich Gutierrez
Canyon football head coach

Iwould almost say when he broke the yards record was more memorable because it was the first one, but the thing that caught the most attention for me was when he broke the second record, the receptions record, he asked me not to call timeout. I was going to so he could get acknowledged, but he didn’t want the attention. He wanted to play and be a teammate. He just liked playing ball and being with his friends. It wasn’t always about the accolades. I told him “I’m going to call a timeout.” He said, “No, let’s keep banging.” He’s just a competitor.

There was so much pressure because of the records, not just the local community, it was everyone. It was non-stop. He handled it extremely well. I know he was relieved when it happened. Drew never took playing for granted. He played every day like it was his last day. We had a player named Mark Urbina who was outstanding and got hurt his senior year. Drew played like today’s the day.

But I also loved watching him in track. That’s a different type of sport. It’s an individual sport in a lot of ways — you’re competing alone against the fastest kids from everywhere. It was a challenge for himself. But I would see him at practice running windsprints and he’s throwing up in the spring from working so hard. He’s pushing his body to the limit. No one knows that stuff.

And the relationship he had with our quarterback Cade Apsay was interesting. Cade doesn’t discriminate — he’ll throw to everyone. Up to the first game there was concern. But they eventually worked together and Drew brought him along and mentored him in a lot of ways. That relationship, that bond, generated the camaraderie. There’s this picture I have on my wall in the sports section when Drew broke the record. It’s Cade and Drew touching helmets. It was cool, almost a private moment.

John Wolitarsky
Drew’s father

He wouldn’t bring up the records. I was probably the one who followed it more closely. If he felt any pressure about breaking the records, he didn’t show it. He’s a funny guy when he’s off the football field. He has so many hobbies and interests. Just to give an interesting story, he’s an avid reader. Four weeks before school was out, he wanted to write a novel. He literally typed out a 100-page story about World War II that he fabricated. I guess what I’m getting at is his sole focus isn’t just sports or football. It’s probably a good thing. He went out and played and never felt pressure.

When he went to the University of Minnesota, he did all these tests, physical stuff — everything. My wife had always noticed his vision is incredible, but we never had him tested. They tested him and his vision is 20/13. I wish I could spend an hour in Drew’s eyes to see what he sees.

The reason why he worked so hard in track, I think, it’s because in his mind he wants to be in the starting rotation at Minnesota as a freshman. He felt a little disrespected when reading in certain places that he lacked top-end speed. He wanted to go out and prove it on the track.

Jibri Hodge
Canyon assistant football coach, track and field sprints coach

Going into his junior year, I told him going out for track would make him faster for football. Going into his senior year, it was 100 percent all him. Usually as coaches you tell a kid to go warm up, do this, do that. For him, not at all. He saw the light. He knew he was leaving June 14 for Minnesota. He needed to be in the best shape.

His senior year in track, it exceeded anything I thought he could do. Track was a secondary thing, but he went out with a purpose — to work hard at all times. Once he got into competition, he was one of those kids where the switch was flipped. He wanted to be the best. He wanted to win. When he would lose a 100-meter race, he was angry.

As a football player and track athlete I would say he’s similar. I will say this, though. When he won the Foothill championship race for the 100, he seemed more excited for that than I’ve seen him in football, and I act told him that. Leon beat him in another race, and I think it was a combination of I beat him, it was the Foothill League championship. When it’s time to go, he goes.

What else did he have to prove this year? But he came out his senior year and worked his butt off in football and track and this might have been his best year academically as well. The boy stepped all his games up in every phase. It really clicked.


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