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SENIOR WEEKS: Jonik will leave Devon Prep as a state champ, but that’s not how he wanted to go out

Devon Prep senior Jackson Jonik, who batted .335 as the starting first baseman for the Tide’s PIAA Class 2A state champion baseball squad last year, was looking forward to defending the state title this spring.

“To me, the most memorable aspect about our championship run was the team itself,” said Jonik. “I would argue that we had the loudest and proudest dugout in all of Pennsylvania. I have never been a part of a team with the attitude and cohesion of last year’s team.

“We started off the season a little slow, which is understandable given the schools we were playing. However, during this time we never got dejected and continued to put in the work knowing that it will pay off at the end of the season. Everyone carried their weight, and we played for each other, not just ourselves. From our practices and games to our time spent together off the field, it was a genuinely fun team to play for and be a part of.”

Little did Jonik know that the PIAA state championship game would be the final game of his Devon Prep baseball career, as the 2020 PIAA spring season was cancelled April 9.

“The word disappointment [at the cancellation] would be an understatement,” said Jonik. “Although it is an understandable decision and we must take care of ourselves and each other during this time, it is still very upsetting to not have the opportunity to play our final year at Devon.”

But the senior first baseman sees a silver lining in the sad situation.

“The cancellation of the season makes you appreciate the blessings in life a little more, and that nothing should be taken for granted,” said Jonik. “This is proof that you never know when the last time you may step on the field will be, so play every game, every practice, as if it were your last.”

The 6-foot-1 Jonik has primarily been a first baseman throughout his baseball career.

“I have always been larger than the kids I would play with, and apart from a few short stints at third base, I would always be placed at first base as that is where the ‘big kid’ plays,” said Jonik. “I embraced this and have continued to improve myself as a first baseman.”

Jonik praised Devon coaches Mark Aquilante and Patrick Kane for his development as a player.

“Coach A and Coach Kane created a trusting, fun, and confidence-inspiring environment to perform in, while keeping us humble and positive,” said Jonik. “They have helped me realize that mistakes are bound to happen, and are an inevitable aspect of both the game and life. However, I’ve learned to simply pick myself up, learn from it, and continue on, which is a valuable mindset I am thankful to have been exposed to.

“At the start of last season, I was struggling in the field and at the plate; however, my coaches took the time to work with me to make the adjustments I needed to be successful. These adjustments helped tremendously and were apparent by the end of the season.”

In the PIAA Class 2A state championship final, Jonik’s RBI double scored the eventual winning run in the 3-2 victory against Serra Catholic.

“To me, the memory of the state championship runs much deeper than just winning that final game,” said Jonik. “The success that is evident in our play begins when we step on the field for our very first practice. ‘Devon baseball’ is a phrase we often use in regards to the way in which we play, and after a few seasons with the team you begin to understand and appreciate it. Most notably, it refers to our attention to detail, both in the dugout and on the field.

“Our coaches never leave us unequipped on the field; we are prepared for nearly every situation that can be thrown at us. We are willing to do the small things in the game to put us in the position to succeed. Our dugout is always paying attention and contributing to the game. It is truly a unique and incredible atmosphere.”

Jonik also credited his older brother Harrison for his baseball success.

“I would be remiss to not acknowledge the support of Harrison, from having a catch, working on my mechanics, and going to the ball field to hit many times a week,” said Jonik. “We played together at Devon for two years before he graduated, and throughout that time he always challenged me.”

During the past offseason, Jonik worked on developing his body and mindset.

“Over the past three years, I had gotten comfortable with my ability to play, and I realized the importance of having a healthy, strong body,” said Jonik. “I made an effort this off-season to stay fit and take care of myself. I also mentally prepared for this season, developing my confidence and trust in myself to perform on the field and be a leader to my teammates.”

Last winter, Jonik competed for Devon Prep’s winter track and field team, participating in shot put and various running events. He is also a member of the school’s Campus Ministry; Mission and Ministry, in which the students help coordinate and lead in-school and out-of-school service events; Ski and Snowboard Club; Environmental Protection Club; and Chemistry Club.

Jonik, who volunteers as a patient transporter at Paoli Hospital, will be majoring in nursing at the University of Scranton next fall.

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