Germantown's Jon Averkamp earns WIAA Scholar/Athlete honors
Seventh Warhawk to earn the award
In his 14-year career as head coach of the highly successful Germantown boys basketball, Warhawk coach Steve Showalter has not only been blessed with great players, but also highly intelligent ones too.
And in the case of brothers Ben and Jon Averkamp, he sometimes got great talent mixed with intelligence. Older brother Ben was a four-year varsity player and a two-time NOW Player of the Year from 2007-09 who led Germantown to its first two state tournament appearances and was a valedictorian in his class.
Younger brother Jon was also a four-year letterwinner who was a major factor in the Warhawks' winning three straight WIAA state titles, the most recent of which came in March.
And just to show he can flex his intellectual muscle too, Averkamp, who also earned first-team All-State honors in leading the Warhawk boys volleyball team to a WIAA state runner-up finish last fall, was recently named a WIAA Scholar/Athlete for the 2013-14 school year.
"It's hard keeping everything in balance," he said. "I've always liked school and prided myself in putting myself in a good position (as far as grades are concerned). I work hard to keep my GPA up."
It shows, said Showalter, who used Averkamp in the position of "middle linebacker" of the offensive-minded Warhawks' frequently under-rated defense.
"I'll tell you one thing," said Showalter. "It's definitely a lot easier working with a 6-7 kid (like Averkamp) who is smart as opposed to a 6-7 kid who is not, but it's also sometimes difficult coaching kids in the lockerroom who know they're smarter than I am (laughs)."
But laughs aside, Showalter relied heavily on both Averkamp's ability and his intelligence, as over the last couple of years, Averkamp has almost always drawn the opponents' best player on defense.
"The last two-three years, he's been in charge of the defense," said Showalter. "...You look at his role as it relates to the basketball team, the whole defense was led by what he did. He made the calls. He made the adjustments. Other people may have gotten credit, but it was what Jon did that allowed that.
"He controlled our defense. it got to the point where in a huddle I could ask him what we should be doing and what will work in a given a situation. having someone like him out there, someone who can see the whole court and run a defense is tremendously different as compared to having a guy who only thinks of himself."
But from a coaching standpoint, such intelligence in a player can have a few minor drawbacks, said Showalter as he noted Jon was not shy about voicing his opinion.
"In the Kimberly game (the sectional final this season), we put him on who we thought was their best player and that guy wound up doing nothing, while their point guard wound up hurting us a lot," said Showalter. "Afterward, Jon looked at the scouting report and said he should have been guarding that other guy (the point guard). 'The scouting report was totally wrong', he said."
And, as expected, Jon differs from big brother Ben in the way he intellectually handles coaching. He's a nice kid, said Showalter, but he's also someone who generally played better with a little anger in his system.
"Ben would sit there with his head down, not making eye contact," said Showalter, "but you could tell he was taking in everything you said and thinking about it.
"Jon, on the other hand, would look right at me and I knew if I messed up, he would catch me on it immediately (laughs)."
Such ability to analyze and dissect a problem comes from Jon Averkamp's analytical mind. He says he likes all of his teachers and when pressed for a favorite subject, he thinks hard and comes up with math. He is currently taking senior calculus but in his intellectually omniverous way, intends to major in biology at St. Cloud State in Minnesota next fall where he'll also play basketball.
Averkamp said he gets to his homework first thing everyday, which meant around 6:30 p.m. during the basketball season if the team had an early practice.
"After that, if I have some free time, then I can get to some fun stuff," he said.
Sunday, May 4 will be part of the "fun stuff" for all his sacrifice and labor. Averkamp and his family will be in Wausau at the Jefferson Street Inn. A total of 16 senior boys and 16 senior girls will be honored at the event. Averkamp is the seventh Germantown student/athlete to be so honored.
A total of 825 senior student/athletes were nominated this school year by more than 425 high schools. The average nominee had a GPA of 3.85 and 136 of them had perfect 4.0s.
"I was very surprised at this," said Averkamp. "It's definitely as cherry on the top for this year."
Given to him by people who understand his intelligent, driven nature.
"It was the state final and we were getting close to the end," said Showalter. "Jon was at the line with a bonus situation and I told the official that this kid was playing his 108th (varsity) game and then I asked, 'Do you think he's going to make these free throws?'
"The ref told me 'A kid like that isn't going to let you down.'"
And he didn't, Averkamp made the free throws.
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