Cayetano Honored with GNAC Male Scholar-Athlete Honor
Jess Cayetano finished with a 3.94 GPA as a physiology major and was named a CoSIDA Third Team Men's Soccer Academic All-American.
Jess Cayetano finished with a 3.94 GPA as a physiology major and was named a CoSIDA Third Team Men's Soccer Academic All-American.
Jess Cayetano
Jess Cayetano

Tuesday, June 12, 2018
by Blake Timm, GNAC Assistant Commissioner

PORTLAND, Ore. – The balance of a rigorous academic load and competing in intercollegiate athletics is difficult. To make it look easy and to not only succeed, but to compete at the highest level while maintaining a stellar academic record, takes a special person.

That description fits Seattle Pacific’s Jess Cayetano. The senior men’s soccer midfielder has been selected by the conference’s athletic directors as the 2017-18 Great Northwest Athletic Conference Male Scholar-Athlete of the Year.

Cayetano, who graduated from Seattle Pacific last Saturday, carried a 3.94 cumulative grade point average as a physiology major. All the while, he was a key component of a Falcons’ midfield that finished a competitive second in the GNAC men’s soccer race in 2017.

“This is an honor,” Cayetano said. “I definitely had to work hard in school, improve a lot from freshman year and keep grinding through my other years. I am honored to receive an award like this.”

A starter for the Falcons in both his junior and senior seasons, Cayetano developed a reputation as a creating midfielder that could distribute and develop opportunities for his teammates. He finished the 2017 campaign with three goals, including a game-winning strike against Saint Martin’s on Oct. 12. His six assists ranked fourth in the GNAC, which included a pair of passes that led to game-winning goals.

“Jess is book-smart, but his work ethic exceeds his smarts and that’s what has allowed him to shine so brightly in the classroom,” said Seattle Pacific head coach Mark Collings. “That also carries over to the soccer field. Our motto of ‘Commitment to Consistency’ is something that he definitely epitomizes. We feel fortunate to have had him here at SPU.”

Cayetano’s prowess both on the pitch and in the classroom were recognized long before being named the GNAC Male Scholar-Athlete of the Year. After being named Honorable Mention All-GNAC in 2016, Cayetano earned Second Team All-GNAC honors in 2017.

A three-time GNAC Men’s Soccer All-Academic Team selection, Cayetano was named as a regional academic all-star by both the United Soccer Coaches and the College Sports Information Directors of America (CoSIDA). He was one of four recipients of the Falcon Award of Excellence, the highest and most exclusive honor for SPU senior scholar-athletes, and was also selected during the fall as the recipient of a $7,500 NCAA Postgraduate Scholarship.

Cayetano earned the ultimate collegiate sports academic honor when he was selected as a Third Team Division II Men’s Soccer Academic All-American by CoSIDA in November. He and teammate Ryan Higgins were the 10th and 11th GNAC men’s soccer players to be named as Academic All-Americans and fourth and fifth SPU men’s soccer players selected over the last three seasons.

While Cayetano has used his work ethic to excel at Seattle Pacific, he admits that it hasn’t come without some help from his friends.

“I attribute all of that to the people who I study with,” Cayetano said of the challenge of maintaining his high academic standard. “I really learned a lot of studying skills from the people I studied with in classes. Working at time management and making sure I was on top of my school work on the road and in between games were important. It didn’t seem like that much just going through it, but I just took each day, each quarter at a time and did the best I could each week.”

The application of those skills is not lost on Cayetano’s coach, who was also a high-level soccer player and student at SPU in the late 1990s.

“Part of it is the culture within the program. We have had a lot of really good student-athletes the last several years and Jess was one of two Academic All-American this year,” Collings said. “Clearly our team has been well in the classroom with our GPA.”

But Collings is quick to point out that, ultimately, success comes back to Cayetano’s work ethic and makeup. “Jess has this quiet competitiveness about him and has always pushed himself,” the coach said. “He knew what he wanted to achieve and he wasn’t going to let his grades and his performance in the classroom be the reason that he didn’t into dental school.”

Cayetano’s degree in physiology will serve him well in the next chapter in his academic career. Accepted into the University of Washington’s Dental School, Cayetano will work towards a career in health care while looking to serve others. “I have been accepted into this program at UW Dental that is an outreach program for under-served communities,” Cayetano said. “I will be over in the Spokane area and eventually in areas around Yakimg working with under-served communities who usually don’t get dental work.”

It is a solid path for a young man who has put knowledge and faith first throughout his college career. “Competition in the classroom can factor into success, but it more has to do with just wanting to do well for yourself,” Cayetano said. “For me, I wanted to do well for my family and for God because I’ve been blessed with so much. I want to basically put all of my effort into it and do everything as I would unto the Lord.”

Other nominees for the GNAC Male Scholar-Athlete of the Year Award included Andrew Elffers of Azusa Pacific (football), Chris Brake of Alaska Anchorage (track and field), Kodiak Landis of Central Washington (track and field), Taylor Harris of Concordia (basketball), Chase Krivashei of Humboldt State (football), Guillaume Kremer of Montana State Billings (soccer), Kyle Witzel of Saint Martin’s (soccer), Kedar Salam of Simon Fraser (basketball), Tyler Jones of Western Oregon (cross country/track and field) and Christian Rotter of Western Washington (soccer).

Cayetano is the fourth Seattle Pacific student-athlete to be named the GNAC Male Scholar-Athlete of the Year and the first since Riley Stockton earned the award for the 2014-15 academic year.

2017-18: Jess Cayetano, Seattle Pacific (Soccer)
Brandon Watson, Simon Fraser (Soccer)
2015-16: Cameron Proceviat, Simon Fraser (Cross Country/Track and Field)
2014-15: Riley Stockton, Seattle Pacific (Basketball)
2013-14: David Downs, Seattle Pacific (Basketball)
2012-13: David Downs, Seattle Pacific (Basketball)
2011-12: Alex Harrison, Western Washington (Track and Field)
2010-11: Adam Bighill, Central Washington (Football)
2009-10: Sam Charles, Montana State Billings (Soccer)
2008-09: Sam Charles, Montana State Billings (Soccer)
2007-08: Jarred Rensvold, Montana State Billings (Cross Country/Track and Field)
2006-07: Adam Jensen, Seattle (Soccer)
2005-06: Tony Binetti, Seattle Pacific (Basketball)
2004-05: Nathan Carlson, Saint Martin’s (Cross Country/Track and Field)
2003-04: Rob White, Western Washington (Football)
2002-03: Tobias Schwoerer, Alaska Anchorage (Cross Country)
2001-02: Erik Totten, Western Washington (Football)

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