We’re proud to announce the recipients of our second annual Student Athlete Scholarship. We received many thoughtful essays from students across Austin ISD representing a broad cross section of high school athletics. 

The Class of 2022 has had a tough few years. More than half of their high school experience was completely altered by the pandemic. In their essays, we read about the challenges these students faced in sports, in school, and within their families. And in each story, we saw resilience and optimism. 

Though they came from diverse backgrounds, the applicants shared a common theme – they love playing their sports. They love training and they love competing. They love being on a team. Many specifically described the intense physical and mental experience of being on the track or in the pool. Breathing, focusing, pushing their bodies and minds past their perceived limitations. In these moments, the chaos of everyday life is completely irrelevant. And these moments of clarity prepare them to face the inevitable challenges life brings.

We know these student athletes are going to do great things in the years ahead! We are so proud to play a small role in helping them on their way, and we look forward to growing this project and supporting more student athletes in the future.

Through our fourth annual Coach DJ’s Memorial Bench-A-Thon, the community raised $5,000, and we intended to give $500 scholarships to 10 students. Krista then decided to add to the fund to give two additional scholarships! Read on to meet the 12 incredible student athletes!

Read a note from Krista and meet the 2021 scholarship recipients.

Meet our 2022 Scholarship Recipients!


Frances Arellano
McCallum High School

Sports: Bowling

Interests: I am passionate about nature photography and traveling.

Future aspirations: To become a Chief Financial Officer at a state agency and to eventually travel to foreign speaking countries so I can experience my culture as a Hispanic woman.

Planning to attend: St. Edwards University or UT Austin

Planning to study: Business


Alexsandra Garza
Crockett Early College High School

Sports: Track and Field

Interests: Biomedical Sciences

Future aspirations: To be a Biomedical Scientist

Planning to attend: UT Austin

Planning to study: Medical Laboratory Science



Reagan Murphy
Anderson High School

Sports: Lacrosse

Interests: I have a passion for the medical field, which I have explored through an internship at Seton hospital. One of my favorite things to do is coach youth girls lacrosse, because I love seeing young athletes develop a passion for such an amazing sport. In addition, I tutor kids in math and reading at Kumon.

Future aspirations: To be a pediatrician. I would love to also incorporate my love for sports by focusing on sports injuries, helping children get back to doing the things they love.

Planning to attend: Villanova University, University of Georgia, or University of Washington Seattle

Planning to study: Biology (pre-med track)



Sydney Nabhan
McCallum High School

Sports: Indoor Volleyball

Interests: I’m passionate about music. I’m in my school’s varsity orchestra. I’m also passionate about fields in STEM, especially increasing the number of women in STEM. I recently learned about my passion for neuroscience.

Future aspirations: To be either a neuroscientist or a biomedical engineer.

Planning to attend: I’m not yet decided. My choices are between Georgia Tech, Case Western, University of Texas, Trinity, and CU Boulder.

Planning to study: Biomedical Engineering



Ashley Nicely-Newberry
McCallum High School

Sports: Cheerleading

Interests: I am passionate about graphic design. I enjoy creating logos for different businesses so much that I decided to create a business out of it, Nicely Creative. It’s my favorite side hustle.

Future aspirations: I aspire to be a real estate agent one day. I want to sell houses, and own a brokerage one day. I’m currently working to get my real estate license.

Planning to attend: Prairie View A&M University

Planning to study: Business Management



Kimani Smith
Akins High School

Sports: Football, Basketball, Track & Field

Interests: Helping others, 2 year member of the Akins High School Social Service Academy Ready Set Teach Practicum. Served as a student teacher for Paredes MS and 9th grade students at Akins HS. Was a valuable part of the “Be the Change” football campaign that aimed at building a positive image of Akins High School in the South Austin Community. I volunteered at Turstee Zapatas “Dia De Los Ninos” back to school event at Mendez MS, Akins “Day of Service”, Welcome Back to School event at Blazier Elementary, and several other events to help his community. I’m also a member of the Akins FCA program.

Future aspirations: To be a great person, friend, father, husband and be successful at Marketing. To be a difference maker in my community.

Planning to attend: McMurry University or University of Mary Hardin Baylor

Planning to study: Marketing and Business


Joseph Trzcinko
Crockett Early College High School

Sports: Cross Country and Track 

Interests: Running most every day, coaching and mentoring my teammates, doing training schedules, hiking, creating videos, and drawing.

Future aspirations: Animator, CAD designer, photographer, architect, illustrator, visual artist, or independent filmmaker.

Planning to attend: ACC, OLLU, TLU or a UT campus.

Planning to study: Graphic/Visual Design


Samantha Unbehagen
Stephen F Austin High School

Sports: Volleyball

Interests: All things sports, reading, travel, fashion and my two dogs.

Future aspirations: I am considering a liberal degree, but also business. I am currently interning at a textile store in Austin that is owned and run by women and love watching how the business works.

Planning to attend: I am still waiting on a couple college answers, but most likely the University of Georgia

Planning to study: Business


Ethan Vargas
Crockett Early College High School

Sports: Wrestling

Interests: Programing, Tinkering, Dungeons and Dragons, Non-competitive Martial Arts

Planning to attend: University Of Texas in Austin

Planning to study: General Engineering

Jack Waters
Liberal Arts and Science Academy (LASA)

Sports: Water polo, running, strength, and triathlon

Interests: I really love medicine, science, and making/performing music.

Future aspirations: To be a physician.

Planning to attend: Trinity

Planning to study: Biology (pre-med track)



Madison Wright
James Bowie High School

Sports: Soccer

Interests: Service, giving back to my community and others, being outdoors, learning other people’s stories.

Planning to attend: Flagler College

Planning to study: Major in Criminology, Minor in Psychology



Justin Xia
Liberal Arts and Science Academy (LASA)

Sports: Ultimate frisbee, marching band

Interests: Boy Scouts of America (I’m an Eagle Scout), playing the French horn, and firefighting/EMT (certified through the LBJ Fire Academy).

Future aspirations: A leader in the community who’s always ready to help others in need.

Planning to attend: Rice University

Planning to study: Electrical and Computer Engineering