When he was a freshman, La Jolla High’s Eric Pitrofsky said he set his sights on winning the Brent Woodall Memorial Award.
“When I heard about what he’d done at and beyond the school, I decided to try and model myself after him,“ Eric said of the 1988 La Jolla High School grad who lost his life in the 9/11 terrorist attacks in New York City.
Four years and three varsity letters later, Eric realized that goal and he joins the impressive list of recipients since the award’s founding by Brent’s family in 2002.
“It’s such an honor to be mentioned on the same list as all these people who have gone on to do such great things, starting out with Brent Woodall,” Eric said.
Brent played baseball, basketball, and football while maintaining a 3.9 GPA at La Jolla High. He went on to the University of California at Berkeley where he played football and baseball before graduating in 1993, and being drafted by the Chicago Cubs.
In 1995, Brent moved to New York to work in finance in the World Trade Center. He married his wife, Tracey, in 2000. His daughter, Pierce Ashley, was born in 2002, just months after Brent was killed.
Eric said he kept Brent in mind every step of the way on his high school journey. When deciding whether or not to play football as a senior, he thought about Brent balancing three sports with school, and decided to push himself to see what Brent went through. He knew about the Brent Woodall Foundation for Exceptional Children, founded by Brent’s wife Tracey, so he volunteered with Las Patronas whenever he had time.
“[The Woodall family] has turned such a sad and tragic event into a positive thing for the kids,” said Eric’s mother, Vera. Each year coaches nominate athletes who demonstrate academic excellence, citizenship and athleticism.
Eric was one of three students selected to write an essay about what it would mean to win Brent’s award. The Woodall family read the essays before selecting Eric as this year’s recipient. Eric said he only found out the award included $1,500 in scholarship money after receiving it.
Eric graduated with a 4.0 GPA. In the fall he will be heading to the University of Colorado at Boulder where he will play club baseball and study business.
His name will now be listed on the Brent Woodall plaque that he so often admired as he entered school.
Eric said he looks forward to being a role model for future La Jolla High School students in the same way that Brent Woodall and past award recipients motivated him to achieve his best.