BIG 5 GIRLS ATHLETE OF THE YEAR — Two-time MVP relishes the return to competition

Photos by Ray Hamill/ – McKenna Beach after receiving her award on Friday.

By Ray Hamill — More than anything, McKenna Beach is just glad she got to play this year.

After seeing her sophomore and junior years ravaged by COVID, this Eureka Logger was determined to make the most of her senior campaign, and boy did she ever.

On Friday afternoon, Beach was named Humboldt Sports 2022 Big 5 Girls Athlete of the Year, capping an impressive year for this multi-sport standout.

Beach enjoyed big seasons in basketball and softball, both individually and with her team.

What separated Beach from an impressive list of finalists for the award was the individual accomplishments she achieved this year in addition to the tremendous team success she helped the Loggers enjoy.

She is a rare Big 5 MVP in both basketball and softball in the same year and a league champion in both sports, and she also walks away with Dick Niclai and Charlie Lakin tournament championship medals.

But most of all, Beach just relished playing again this year, especially after a COVID-shortened junior year was cut even shorter because of injury.

“I’m just glad we had a season,” she said with a smile after receiving her award. “COVID took away my junior year — it took away everyone’s year — so it was really nice to come back.”

The outgoing senior will play softball at Cal Poly Humboldt next year and her high school softball coach feels she has the tools to succeed at the next level after playing a pivotal role in leading the Loggers to 27 wins and a NorCal semifinal this past spring.

McKenna Beach signed her letter of intent to play softball Cal Poly Humboldt earlier this year.

“McKenna is one of the hardest working players on our team and it shows on the field,” Eureka coach Robin Johnson said at her letter signing in April. “She will succeed at the college level with her desire to become better every day, her drive to keep pushing herself and her positive attitude to keep learning more.”

Her basketball coach at Eureka, Mike Harvey, echoed the sentiment after Beach led the Loggers to a 20-9 record.

“She has a competitive fire for success and a dedicated work ethic, and she is a compassionate teammate,” he said after Beach was named Big 5 MVP in March.

As a multiple champion in both sports over the past few years, Beach enjoyed plenty of successful moments, but she admits it’s difficult to single out any one of them.

McKenna Beach with Eureka AD Ed Sonia, left, and school principal Jennifer Johnson after receiving her Big 5 Girls Athlete of the Year plaque on Friday.

“Really (I’ll remember) everything,” she said. “It was really nice to go out with a bang. It was really nice to end on a good note.”

The Lumberjack commit will play some softball with her travel team in the coming weeks and plans on spending much of the summer preparing for life at Cal Poly Humboldt and taking her game to the next level.

“I’ll be working out and getting ready for college,” she said. “I’m really excited about it.”

A big shoutout to our awards sponsors, Mendes Supply Company, Six Rivers Property Management and The Stove Doctors, for their support, as well as to Sports World in Eureka for helping with the plaques.

Humboldt Sports will be naming our other five 2021/22 High School Awards winners in the coming days, including our Big 5 Boys Athlete our the Year, our Team and Coach of the Year, and our Little 4 Boys and Girls Athletes of the year.

Beach and her teammates celebrate their Dick Niclai Tournament championship earlier this year.


Categories: Basketball, Eureka, Softball

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