Alessa Somer of Dos Pueblos High School will have the distinction of being the first winner of the Santa Barbara Athletic Round Table’s Scholar Athlete of the Year Award during the COVID-19 pandemic-impacted 2020-21 school year.
Somer is the No. 1 singles player on the Chargers girls tennis team and a star in the classroom.
The senior has a 4.94 grade point average while carrying a class load that includes Advanced Placement courses in biology, environmental science, English literature, psychology and Spanish.
She is a member of the Dos Pueblos Engineering Academy and the National Honors Society.
Somer was presented her award in a virtual ceremony by award sponsor Marc Gamberdella. Her coach, Laura Housinger, also participated of the video conference.
In normal times, Somer would be honored at the SBART weekly press luncheons at Harry’s Plaza Cafe. The pandemic has prevented the luncheons from being held, but the all-volunteer Round Table organization felt it could continue presenting awards to the incredibly special student-athletes in the community.
The SBART also plans to present the Phil Womble Ethics in Sports Award, which recognizes a junior class student-athlete at each high school on the South Coast.
“We’re excited to continue this tradition of handing out the award, virtually, in these times of COVID,” said Gamberdella of the Scholar Athlete honor, which has been presented to a student athlete at each high school and college on the South Coast since the 1980s.
Somer earned the No. 1 singles spot on the DP varsity as a sophomore, and held it through her junior season. She expects to remain in the top position when the revised girls tennis season begins in late February, Housinger said.
“She is a dedicated and hard-working athlete, but also a wonderful leader and role model for all her peers,” Housinger said. “She steps up to any challenge she encounters, especially that No. 1 singles spot, which is often very difficult with high-level competition.”
Somer also challenges herself in the world of technology, and inspires other female students to join her in the field.
She co-founded the nonprofit ProgramHers, which encourages girls to become interested in STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) courses at a young age. The objective of ProgramHers is to teach students coding and engineering skills in a positive, creative, and inclusive environment.
The daughter of Jason and Jennifer Somer also runs the Women in Technology Club at Dos Pueblos, and serves as a leader in the DP Engineering Academy.
Housinger is impressed with Somer’s work ethic and is excited about her future.
“She always works hard and has great energy on and off the court,” the coach said. “I look forward to seeing what her senior season is like, as well as all the wonderful opportunities she’ll have once she graduates from high school.”