Alicia Brooks and Justin Stevens are two of the finest Blue Devil track stars ever. The Huntington High School Class of 2020 members are state champions and All-Americans. They are top students, too. The duo has been named recipients of this year’s David Caplin Memorial Scholarships for Leadership and Mentorship in Sports, which carry $500 stipends.
David Caplin was an absolutely great guy. The Huntington High School Class of 1974 member notched success in business and later seized upon an opportunity to coach cross country and track and field. He passed away after a 13 year battle with cancer, but never forgot his alma mater.
A nine-time letter winner at Robert L. Simpson Junior High School and Huntington High School, Mr. Caplin was a National Honor Society member and Regents scholarship recipient as a senior. He went on to graduate from SUNY Binghamton. He passed away at home surrounded by his family and friends in September 2014.
Ms. Brooks is headed to North Carolina A&T State University in Greensboro where she plans to study history and prepare for a career as a social studies teacher. A member of four different academic honor societies, the teenager also teaches dance and has been a Natural Helper, assisting classmates as they work through personal issues.
“Alicia’s had a lot of highlights but there’s three that stand out,” said Mark Jackson, who coaches the Huntington girls’ team. “One of the biggest was her scoring 32 points for the team in 2019 when we won our first team outdoor championship since 2015 by just 1.67 points. Next was her breaking the 55m, 60m, long jump (indoor and outdoor), triple jump, 100m, 200m (indoor) and two relay school records. Nine records in all. Finally, being the being the first leg on our 4x200m relay that was two-time public school state champions, one-time state federation (public, private, PSAL) champions and a three-time All-American. It’s something that has never happened in Huntington girls’ track and field history.”
Ms. Brooks hopes to compete in the sprints and jumps at North Carolina A&T, but she is especially focused on her academic and career goals.
A three-time All-American, Mr. Stevens has been recruited to run on the Dartmouth College track team. An Advanced Placement Scholar with Honors, he plans to study economics at the Ivy League school.
“Justin Stevens can say he won three state championship titles,” said Ronald Wilson, who coaches Huntington’s boys’ track team. “Justin battled back to great form last year after suffering a severe ankle injury midway through the season. He came back last winter to run the third leg on our relay that won county and state titles. He went on that spring to qualify for states in the 400m hurdles where he placed ninth. He again was a part of our 4x400m relay that won its second consecutive state title. This year, he qualified for the 600m dash, earning state and federation medals. And now for the third consecutive time, he was a part of our relay team that won another state title.”
David Caplin loved to run
David Caplin once described himself as an “intellectual athlete.” He loved to run, but when advancing illness prevented him from doing so, the Huntington alum found solace in coaching cross country and track in Hudson, Ohio, passing along his wisdom and experience to receptive teenagers.
Scholarship organizers established the following criteria for the award:
- While recipients do not need to be at the top of their class, they should have a grade point average of 3.0 or above and be grounded and thoughtful, on and off the playing field.
- The scholarship committee prefers to honor students who have excelled in cross country and track and field running events.
- Dedication to the sport of running as evidenced by multiple years of activity.
- Recipients should be kind and compassionate in their nature, especially toward teammates of lesser talents and generous with their time.
- Recipients should exhibit leadership by always working for the advancement of the team rather than individual glory.
- A sense that persistence always means personal satisfaction. Mr. Caplin’s favorite encouraging phrase with his team was “never, ever give up.”
Mr. Caplin was the owner of DJC Associates, a consulting firm. He enjoyed discussing history and current events, movies, traveling and playing golf. He is survived by his wife of 34 years, Marcy, children Sarahbeth and Greg and brother, Noah Caplin.
One of Mr. Caplin’s last messages to his classmates went like this: “So my friends, does life get difficult? Sure. Is it always fair Heck no! In the end, I think what matters most is what we do with all of that and the lasting impact we leave on those close to us. May you all find peace and contentment in life. I think that’s about the best we can do.”
David Caplin Memorial Scholarship Recipients
2016 Latoya Shand and Kyle O’Brien
2017 Alexis Pastorelli and Shane McGuire
2018 Alexandra McKenzie and Michael Drake
2019 Hadley Clayton and Johnathan Smith
2020 Alicia Brooks and Justin Stevens