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Senior Spotlight: Orcutt Academy's William Jin eyes future in table tennis and rocket science
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Senior Spotlight

Senior Spotlight: Orcutt Academy's William Jin eyes future in table tennis and rocket science


Growing up in the United States, William Jin has had the opportunity to play sports.

Growing up in China, William’s mother, Chang Qing Gao, and father, Xiao Jun Jin, did not.

That has made a big impression on William, an Orcutt Academy senior who carries a 4.7 GPA and was that school’s nominee for the Northern Santa Barbara County Athletic Round Table Male Scholar Athlete of the Year honor.

The NSBCART customarily awards its scholarships during its annual awards dinner. The organization cancelled its 2002 dinner because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

William Jin was a mainstay for an Orcutt Academy boys tennis team that made it to the CIF Central Section divisional semifinals last year and was in first place in the Ocean League this year before spring sports statewide were called off because of the pandemic.

Jin had a 25-7 match record last year. “My mom and dad were my biggest supporters,” William Jin said. “They went to all my matches that they could.”

Orcutt’s senior Male Scholar Athlete of the Year noted in his scholarship application for the NSBCART that what his parents did not have growing up - the opportunity to pursue recreational sports - made him appreciate his own opportunity to do so all the more.

William’s father helped instill in him a passion for another form of tennis - table tennis, or ping pong.

Table tennis is one activity people can pursue during the pandemic-induced statewide shelter-in-place directive.

“My dad is an avid ping pong player, and we play together all the time,” said William.

One of the top players in the Orcutt Academy table tennis club, Jin is looking forward to pursuing his passion for the sport at UC San Diego.

After schools statewide closed in March, so did all team workouts. So Dulay has developed a solo workout routine — well, not exactly solo. Her father, Santa Maria Reds president Rob Dulay, hits ground balls to her off the hitting tee — of her own.

"Monday, Tuesday and Thursday are my usual workout days," said Rianna.

“I’ve been in contact with the table tennis club at UC San Diego, and I hope to join that club,” said Jin.

While he is at UC San Diego, Jin will work toward securing a career in another passion of his - working with rockets.

“I would like to go into software engineering for an aerospace company,” said Jin.

Jin was a prominent member of the Robotics Club at Orcutt Academy before the pandemic prompted California Governor Gavin Newsom to issue the statewide shelter-in-place directive and schools across the state closed.

The four-year tennis player at Orcutt is also a four-year school robotics team member. Jin was the software lead for a squad that made it to the Robotics World Championships, that took place in Houston, in 2017 and 2018. He became the lead for the squad in 2019 and 2020.

Taua, who graduated from Lompoc High in 2014 and played defensive line and fullback at UCLA, is our second nominee for Player of the Decade. The sports staff at the Santa Maria Times, Lompoc Record and Santa Ynez Valley News polled area coaches for nominees and will allow readers to vote for Player of the Decade after all the nominees have been announced. Arroyo Grande's Seth Jacobs, the first nominee, was announced last week.

William Jin noted in his essay that he has taken part in community robotics outreach programs to children through summer camps, workshops and parade booths.

He ultimately chose UC San Diego over UCLA mainly because “by getting a merit-based scholarship by being in the top 1-to-2 percent of all applicants there, I will get $5,000 toward my tuition each year and first choice for all the classes I want to take.

“It was really humbling to get that scholarship.”

Regarding online learning, “I took an online anthropology class at Hancock College, and that helped prepare me for online learning,” said Jin.
“But in the classroom, I can talk to my peers about assignments. I really hope the schools open up in the fall.”

Senior Spotlight Series: Profiles of area nominees for Athlete of the Year and Student Athlete of the Year

Our 'Senior Spotlight' series is aimed at highlighting senior student-athletes who have had their final year of high school disrupted by the coronavirus outbreak. The athletes featured here were their school's nominee for Athlete of the Year or Student Athlete of the Year for the Northern Santa Barbara County Athletic Round Table's end-of-year banquet that has been canceled due to the outbreak.

Central Coast Classic Series: We look back at some the biggest games in the area's history

With a little extra time on our hands, we are taking a look into the past of prep sports on the Central Coast. Our sports staff has been going through our archives searching for photos and stories highlighting some of the most pivotal games area teams have played over the last two decades.

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Sports Reporter

Kenny Cress, sportswriter for the Santa Maria Times since September of 2000. BA in political science from Cal Poly Pomona. BA in journalism from Cal State Northridge.

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