Fort Walton Beach (January 9, 2015) – Apparently, those inside Fort Walton Beach Principal Charlene Couvillon’s office Tuesday could see the shock all over Jackie Orcutt’s face.
Orcutt walked into the room thinking she was going to discuss her senior project idea.
She walked in, noticed more than the usual number of people and also noticed fellow All Sports Association Scholastic Award nominee Trey LaNasa.
“There were a bunch of people in there and I was like, “What is going on?’ ” the senior recalled. “So I was kind of wondering if we would hear a ‘congrats for participating’ speech. I was thinking Trey had won. The way it was build up, that’s the way I thought it would go. They said Trey won and then said, ‘And Jackie, we knew it would be harder with (Choctaw student-athlete) Emma Strom.’ I was thinking I wouldn’t win it.”
But then she was told what she didn’t expect to hear.
“I was shocked,” Orcutt said. “I was thrilled to be nominated and I was convinced as soon as Emma Strom was the Choctaw nominee that she’d win it. I wasn’t at all disappointed because I was honored to be nominated. … It meant a lot to think that Miss Couvillon would nominate me.”
Orcutt’s life story is an interesting one — in that it involves her living more places than most have visited before graduating high school. The 17-year-old student lived in the United Kingdom for three years — her father is in the United States military — after prior years jumping from city to city. Four years was the longest stretch in one place. One stay lasted just three months.
“It was hard, but it was mostly the hard of moving, not coming back to America,” she said. “There was a little bit of a culture shock. Obviously, things change . There are new phrases and stuff like that. We missed the American fast food, but at the same time we probably were better off for not having it.”
She became a Fort Walton Beach student her junior year. She was a student at Lakenheath in England for two years. Beyond college, she has committed to the Air Force Academy, where she will happily be required to participate in sports at some level.
Oh, and she’s been involved in a lot, even in just two years as a Viking.
Orcutt’s athletic accomplishments at Fort Walton Beach include: 12 varsity letters, with four each in swimming and soccer; swimming state finalist in five events; and starting quarterback for Fort Walton Beach’s inaugural girls flag football team.
“She’s very coachable,” Fort Walton Beach swim coach Will Breehl said. “She’s one of those kids, from her family background, they have a big emphasis on putting her in successful situations.”
Then she was a two-year varsity basketball player and one-year varsity volleyball player in Europe, where her teams finished third in the Division I European Championships. She also played soccer and swam, for two years each, in Europe, where she was a European Championships finalist in three swimming events. She also plays soccer for Fort Walton Beach.
“My last school was so small that I got to be involved in everything,” she said. “When I moved here, I had to pick. I picked soccer and swimming because they were the ones I enjoyed the most and the two I was best at.”
Then there are the academic accomplishments, and there are also quite a lot of those.
She has earned a handful of awards — including the scholastic winner of the Okaloosa County Distinguished Young Woman, Okaloosa County Academic Honors, Scholar Athlete, Achievement Award for all A’s the first semester of her junior year and the Commander’s Award .
Plus, she is on the National Honor Society, Science Honor Society, Fellowship of Christian Athletes and many other activities during her two years in Europe. She was in the Girl Scouts for 12 years and participated in many community service programs, including a program in England helping the families of deployed airmen.
A 17-year-old kid who so often must pack up and relocate from city to city, country to country and continent to continent finds the time to participate in so much.
That may be as surprising to some as her learning she won the award. How does she do it?
“Lose a little bit of sleep here and there,” she said, half joking. “I’m just glad and honored to do them. I have so many different interests and passions, and I think it’s cool to do all of them.
“The community service, I just like having a way to give back.”
Devin Golden is a sportswriter for the Northwest Florida Daily News. He can be reached at 850-315-4476, on Twitter at @DGoldnwfdn and by email at email@example.com .