West Orange High School Athlete of the Week: Jahnaya Howard

Jahnaya dribbles up the floor in a basketball game against Irvington.
Jahnaya makes a catch in a softball game against Nutley. Credits: Steve Ellmore Essex News Daily

WEST ORANGE, NJ - West Orange High School Athlete of the Week Jahnaya Howard shines for the Mountaineers on the basketball court in the winter and on the softball diamond in the spring.

Howard averaged 7.5 points per game and scored 135 points during the basketball season, helping the team to earn a 9-15 record and qualify for the state tournament as its leading scorer. She ended her high school career with a total of 345 points and 85 assists.

As the Girls Softball season winds down, Howard has been making her impact felt in the outfield and at the plate. This season, Howard boasts a .390 batting average with 30 hits and 11 RBIs. She is second in hits in North Jersey Section 1 Group 4 behind Roxbury’s Katlyn Lloyd. Her career batting average is .450 with 59 career hits.

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Jahnaya is appreciated by her teammates, who have good things to say about her.

“She’s an all-around great player. You could really count on her to make any play that came to her,” says junior infielder Natalie Covello.

Howard did not always play softball, but the way she learned the game helped her develop as a player. Howard was introduced to the sport through baseball and transitioned into softball as she got older. “I started playing softball because I got too old to keep playing baseball.”

She credits Coach Brian Phillips as her most helpful coach because he was her coach when she first started playing the game. She also said that it is fun to play for first year coach Joel Troast. When Jahnaya is not playing basketball or softball, she enjoys watching anime and playing videogames.

After she graduates from West Orange High School in June, Jahnaya will attend Rider University in Lawrenceville, NJ and play softball for the Broncs. But for now Jahnaya, Kaitlin Machuca, Kristen Bolen, Jamie DeAngelis, and the rest of the softball team are focused on winning their next two games. Wins at Bloomfield Tuesday and at Mount St. Dominic on Wednesday would help improve West Orange’s 7-16 record.

Jahnaya’s contribution to the team is undisputably significant and it is not an exaggeration for Covello to say that, “the team wouldn’t be the same without her.”


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