Men's soccer player Josh Popke has become the latest Irvine Valley student athlete to receive the Orange Empire Conference Character Champion Award.
The inaugural Character Champion Award was given out following the 2009-10 academic year.
Irvine Valley has had at least one student athlete win the overall honor each year.
In 2009-10, it was volleyball player Caitlin Segert that earned the honor for the Lasers.
Soccer player Chris Popke claimed the award after 2010-11 for Irvine Valley.
And last school year, IVC won both the male and female awards with volleyball player Kevin Ringuette and basketball player Melanie Kashanchi taking home honors.
Josh Popke is another that deserved the award, which is given to the student athlete who displays the following values; sportsmanship, respect, caring, fairness, civility, honesty, integrity and responsibility shown through a specific action, ideally directed toward an opponent during competition.
The criteria also includes the action of putting the team and teammates before oneself while acting as a positive role model.
Popke's academic achievements are impressive enough. He had already taken 56 units at Irvine Valley by the time of his high school graduation at Calvary Chapel.
He's had even more success in his life and at IVC since then.
A two-time scholar-athlete, Popke has been part of Irvine Valley's National Champion Speech and Debate squad.
His accomplishments include winning two gold medals in his first-ever tournament for displaying outstanding communicatory skills individually and conjointly when he and his partner went undefeated in all of the tournament’s debate rounds.
He is also on IVC’s all-Academic Team which requires a minimum GPA of 3.75.
His current cumulative GPA is 3.85.
Popke has also given his time outside of the college.
Beginning in high school, he has made frequent trips to Atria, a senior-citizens home located in Irvine where he spent time conversing with the elderly and entertaining them with his pianistic abilities.
At 15, he co-founded a group that met every week over the summer to feed the homeless population in Santa Ana. During the winter months, he co-established a group that freely delivered and stacked firewood for families that lacked proper indoor heating systems.
In college, despite the workloads of soccer, debate and honors status as a student, Popke continued to volunteer for community service events such as harvesting food through organizations like "Loaves and Fishes x10" to supply low-income families with fruits and vegetables, as well as continuing to use his ability on the piano to play for organizations like the Orange County Rescue Mission.
And he remains connected to the grassroots of his game as a soccer coach at University High.
"Josh Popke personifies the qualities and characteristics most desired in today’s Student-Athlete," IVC Coach Martin McGrogan said. "As a member of our men’s soccer program, it was a rare pleasure to coach such a focused and driven young man.
"He is an intelligent and self-motivated individual, always striving to give his best. His work rate on the field and in the classroom are both extremely important to him and something he prides himself on. There may be more gifted players on his team, but none that will outwork him.