Jalen Buckley’s name has been played over a PA speaker countless times.
Buckley, now a Batavia graduate and continuing his next chapter of his life playing football at Western Michigan University, knows his name is well known among Batavia’s next wave of potential sports stars.
His message to these children: “Have fun.
“These moments certainly don’t last long,” said Buckley, who enjoyed a two-year college football career and capped off his senior year as the Kane County Chronicle Football Player of the Year. “I remember when I was in first grade – it feels like yesterday – I was just telling them to have fun and do what they love.”
Buckley has started his final year on the football pitch. He led for 1,194 yards rushing — averaging 6.3 yards per carry — and nearly 120 yards per game.
The 6-foot, 205-pound workhorse had five games rushing for 100+ yards and 16 touchdowns as the driving force behind an offense that totaled 31.4 points, 17 first downs, 185.5 rushing yards. rushing and 322.8 total offensive yards per game.
Buckley capped off his senior year by placing first at the IHSA Boys’ Track and Field meet in triple jump as Batavia won the team title.
Given his accomplishments as a two-sport star, Buckley is the Kane County Chronicle’s Male Athlete of the Year.
“There are players who play hard, play hard all the time,” Batavia football coach Dennis Piron said of Buckley in December. “He brings such energy and passion to the game all the time. Probably the thing you enjoy [the most] as a coach he is so capable of doing anything you want to do.
Buckley dominated as a running back and in the triple jump. On the football field, his engine seemed to strengthen as the game progressed. Athletics was no different.
“What was probably most impressive for us was that he would get stronger,” Piron said. ” It would not be [like] he would get tired. As the game continued, this final fourth quarter of the game, it was pretty hard for anyone to stop him when things mattered whether it was overtime or a fourth quarter play or we needed a first down or anything. .”
The light bulb moment for Buckley clicked as he entered his second year. A defensive backs coach continually talked about Buckley possibly playing in college that season. Buckley played at the sophomore level, then was elevated to the college level for the playoffs that year.
“I was very interested in playing up there with those guys,” Buckley said. “As soon as he told me I had a chance to do it, my mindset changed from being a small freshman to being a big university senior. [player].”
He finally achieved that – and more.
If Buckley had had the opportunity to speak to himself four years ago – knowing what he does now in hindsight – the message would be “stay humble”.
“Keep working. Put your head down and work,” Buckley said. “There will be many times when you don’t feel like doing something, especially when you’re young and want to have fun all the time. I was just telling myself to put my head down and keep working.