A separated shoulder and a world-wide pandemic sidelined Luke Williams for part of his high school athletic career, but he’s never been idle during his four years at Bishop Diego.
The Santa Barbara Athletic Round Table honored the three-sport star last week as his school’s Scholar-Athlete of the Year.
“Luke, as a freshman, had an unfortunate grade-three separation,” said his tennis coach, Natalie Hapeman. “But working through this adversity, Luke has had a never-give-up spirit. He made this a challenge to be better and to come back stronger.”
Williams, who ranks No. 1 in Bishop’s Class of 2021 with a grade-point average of 4.83, has also won the school’s Scholar of Service Award for compiling more than 900 hours of community service.
“One lesson that coach Hapeman has taught me is the importance of doing your job, whatever that might be,” he said.
He’s worked as a tennis camp counselor for two years at the Santa Barbara Polo & Racquet Club and has served for three years as the Cardinals’ team captain in tennis.
“Tennis can be quite an individual sport, but Luke is so kind and helpful to his teammates,” Hapeman said. “He genuinely cares about them, wants them to be successful, and have fun and enjoy the game of tennis as he does.”
Williams received first-team All-Tri-Valley League honors in tennis as a sophomore. That same year, he made the All-Frontier League First Team in soccer and received honorable mention in track and field.
He was All-TVL honorable mention in soccer as a junior, but his tennis and track seasons that year were canceled by the COVID-19 pandemic.
He still rates as a three-star recruit in tennis, having won his age division at several USTA tournaments. They include the 10th Annual San Fernando Valley Junior Open Classic, the Northridge Spring Junior Open, the 75th Annual Ventura Junior Tournament, and the 5th Annual Ramada Junior Open Championships. He was also a finalist at the Northridge Thanksgiving Junior Open.
“He makes the court look small with his lightning speed and he keeps his opponents on their toes with his strong, accurate racket,” Hapeman said.
Williams, the son of Rhys Williams and Jamie Ruffing, has been recruited to play tennis for the U.S. Air Force Academy, the U.S. Coast Guard Academy, and Bates College. He’s also been accepted to attend Stanford.
He’s already taken eight courses at Santa Barbara City College, receiving an A in each class. He’s even created a middle school curriculum entitled the Geology of Southern California and the Wildfire-Debris Flow Linked Cycle.
But Williams labels himself as a “space enthusiast and astrophile.”
“I plan to major in either Geological Sciences or Astronautics/Aeronautics … Maybe Space Operations if I choose to attend the United States Air Force Academy,” he said.
His academic honors include his school’s Dartmouth Alumni Club Book Award. He’s also received the Congressional Youth Award’s Silver and Bronze Certificate, and the Rotary Youth Leadership Award.
Williams has served for three years as an ambassador for Bishop Diego and was selected this year to be its head ambassador. He also serves on the National Youth Advisory Junior Board for Teen Mental Health and even produced an anti-drug film that won first place in Santa Barbara County.
He’s a member of Bishop’s Campus Ministry Team as well as the school’s STEAM Society. He’s served for 10 years on the Outreach Committee at Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church and as a St. Joseph’s Trust Volunteer and co-leader for the West Coast Kids Club.
“Most recently, he has been instrumental in providing needed essentials of clothing and household goods through our school’s private Santa to a local community,” Hapeman said. “To follow that up, he was instrumental in getting over 80 boxes of food to that same community through our Catholic Schools Week.”
Williams has earned the rank of Eagle Scout in the Boys Scouts of America and received the Chi Rho Award — the highest honor in Catholic scouting.