The life of a high school student is often a very busy one. It is a life with numerous demands of your time, emotions, and resources. There are exams to take, books to read, essays to write, and deadlines to meet. If you throw in family events and expectations, extra curricular activity, and high school sports to this stream, you may think many kids would drown under all this. That is not the case for one exceptional senior at Rogue River High School.
Anthony “Tony” Isom is an 18-year-old Rogue River Chieftain and a Senior in the class of 2023. He has been in the Rogue River school system his entire educational career and these years have not been spent idly. Tony stays busy, works hard, and is involved in many extracurricular activities. One area he fills his calendar with is athletics. As a young boy he played football and baseball for local clubs and also took karate classes. After a few years of these sports Tony realized he did not particularly connect so he decided to give soccer a try. It was on the pitch where his athletic skill and imagination was first sparked and he instantly fell in love with the game. As a kindergarten student he had also tried a junior wrestling program but did not initially think it was for him and admits “to be honest I was scared of wrestling at first and decided to step away.” In middle school with soccer firmly in his pocket, Tony decided to give wrestling a go one more time. At this time realized he loved the sport, and he has never looked back.
As a soccer player Tony is always a steady and dependable player on the field. He was instrumental in helping bring a school team back to Rogue River, after the program collapsed during the Covid-19 pandemic and this year his teammates voted him as team captain due to his calming, confident presence and his natural leadership abilities. At the end of this season he was voted the team MVP. Tom Bigboy, Tony’s high school soccer coach said “Tony is that rare student athlete who is able to compete at the highest level with intensity and proficiency while also being a humble leader to all around him. He is an absolute joy to coach.”
Tony is also active in the Chieftain Wrestling program where that same natural confidence and demeanor found him again in a position of leadership, as he was also made the captain of the Wrestling team. The last two years he qualified for the State Tournament and placed as high as 4th place. His high school coach Robert Isom says “Tony was always the silent giant in the wrestling room, leading by example. He did not talk a big game, but let his actions speak for him. He was one of our hardest workers these past 4 years and probably that I have ever coached in my 25 seasons as a wrestling coach. He was responsible for all the team morning practices and Sunday runs, because he not only wanted to be the best prepared he could be but tried to bring others along with him. His nutrition skills were through the roof and he was able to easily keep his weight down and still wrestle at a high level. It makes complete sense he is going to wrestle at the college level the next 4-5 years.” And if that is all not enough for Tony to impress you he also plays varsity golf for his High School. What a spectacular resume!
Never one to be pigeonholed, Tony’s impressive list of accomplishments is not just limited to the athletic sphere. He is also a fantastic student who has spent his entire academic career on the Honor Roll. Tony is currently the proud owner of a 4.0 GPA. He says “I am actually quite proud of this. I managed to maintain these grades through three varsity sports as well as through the pandemic and it was not always easy.” He is part of the National Honor Society and serves on the school’s Leadership Team. Tony does not like to take the easy route, a fact evident when he said “I always like the challenge of taking the hardest classes offered. I like to push myself in all I do, both physically and mentally.” Tony is respected by peers and staff alike and this year he was voted to be Rogue River High School’s Homecoming King by his fellow students.
With all of the many things this young man dives into head first, one has to wonder how he balances it all. When asked how he does it, he said, “Time is a very hard thing to come by and maintain for a student athlete. We leave school more often than we would like sometimes because of matches and meets, and after school we usually have practices which take away from our time to do homework. When I am in a sports season, I try to find and create time for school work wherever I can. I try to limit some of the other things that take away these opportunities for work like videogames and social media. I also try to complete my assignments and schoolwork whenever I have the chance, whether it is before school starts or after practice ends. I do what I need to do whenever I can.” The future is bright for Tony. He was recently admitted into the Honors Program at Southern Oregon University where he wants to study Science and plans to wrestle. Tony has always loved science and excels in this field of study. He wants to focus on either Environmental Science or Nutritional Science. Eventually he would like to use his science background to ultimately make a difference in this world. He would love to work on solutions to economic challenges many face and study how to eliminate hazardous pollutants in our world or he would like to be a nutritional scientist because he loves the idea of helping people with their health choices to make a difference in their lives.
In a world of negative news stories about schools, getting to know this student is a breath of fresh air. When asked to describe Tony, his teacher Hillary Wallace said “I could say a lot about Tony Isom. He is truly one of the kindest and hardest working students I have ever had. He is always going above and beyond and on top of that most of what he does isn’t even for himself but for those around him.” When asked who inspires him to work so hard, Tony credits his dad as being his biggest example and his personal hero. He says, “Throughout my life, I’ve looked up to my father the most. He has always been there for me and pushed me to do and become more. He always looks for the good in things and is always hopeful for the future even if it can be a difficult challenge.”
As his High School career is rapidly approaching its’ culmination Tony looks back on it all fondly. He believes his education has prepared him for the world out there because he has made the most of it. He has taken everything learned as an opportunity to be a better human. He isn’t scared of adulthood and what comes next because he has been taught how to think and figure things out in the classroom. He also believes athletics have prepared him for life just as much. He says “sports aren’t just a way to exercise and compete to me, but they also helped me see new places and learn more about myself and others.” He believes many of the athletes he has competed with and against have become friends he will keep his entire life. When asked what memory is his favorite in a career full of highlights, Tony says with a smile “it is hard to choose honestly, but what probably stands out the most for me are two events. In 8th grade during districts, I managed to work my way from the constellation side of my bracket all the way to 3rd place. Nobody on my own team thought I could do it, and they even wanted me to lose so we could all just go home. I pushed through this negativity and put myself in a position to where I could go to State. This was my first time placing at districts and making it to state, which made it all the more special. Equal to that was last year when I placed 4th in state for wrestling. Making it that far was awesome but it did not compare to the feeling of being able to eat candy again once it was over.”
As he dreams of the future Tony says he will always look for athletic competition in some capacity, but he knows his days of formal competition are coming to an end sooner rather than later. Rather than mourn this, Tony is simply grateful for all he has been able to do and accomplish. With his future laid out before him with limitless possibility, he is excited for whatever comes next. When asked what he ultimately dreams for, Tony says “In the future, I just want to be happy and fulfilled. I am not looking to be successful in the ‘American Dream’ sense where it is all about having a lot of money and being wealthy. This doesn’t mean I don’t want to have a house or a well-paying job, but I am mostly hoping to be happy and fulfilled rather than just having money in my pocket. I want to enjoy my work instead of just powering through a job I don’t enjoy and I want to make a difference.”
Tony does not do any of these things for public glory and naturally shies away from praise over his many accomplishments. He does these things to push himself and grow as a human and because it is just who he is. He gives everything he has to anything he is involved with. He is a wonderful role model and example to us all of how we can focus on the positive and work hard to make a difference in this world. Congratulations to Tony Isom on a fantastic High School career!