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Thomas Kensinger, Venice's three-sport standout, is SBLive’s LA City Section Athlete of the Year

Kensinger led Venice to the school's first ever CIF championship in football this season.

Welcome to a continuing tradition at SBLive California – honoring the male and female athletes of the year in every CIF Section.

Because the SBLive crew gets so immersed in specific sports seasons, it is nice to take a step back to pick a Section honor on a broader scale.

The criteria isn’t too expansive: The starting point is finding athletes who are all-league/all-state performers. Totality of career is also a factor as is winning. Administrator/coach/fan recommendation plays a role as well.

Enjoy as we honor some of California's top athletes!

Thomas Kensinger's favorite memory from his senior football season wasn't his Venice team's CIF championship victory. It was practicing on Thanksgiving.

"The school is empty," he said. "It was just the football team. Our quarterback's dad stepped up and we had catering that whole week. It was the perfect time to train, get ready and focus on the [championship] game. We bonded a lot during that week."

It shouldn't come as a surprise that Kensinger, a defensive end and tight end, valued a great week of practice over any of his own individual achievements like his 7.5 sacks or the day he found out he won the LA City Section Player of the Year award. He's as selfless and humble as they come, according to his head coach Angelo Gasca. 

"Thomas epitomizes what every coach wants his players to be," Gasca said "He's a great student, great teammate and great leader who comes from a great family. He was unselfish and unquestionably one of the best leaders we've ever had on our team...I'll miss everything with him, the haircut, the whole deal."

In total, Kensinger ended the 2021 football season with 103 tackles and 18.5 tackles for loss. He also caught two touchdowns on offense. In Venice's 36-9 Division 1 LA City Section championship win over Canoga Park, the program's first in school history, Kensinger led Venice with 12 tackles. 

"I was pretty excited when we won," Kensinger said. "I could see my coach's face glowing up. Everyone was just super pumped up for us to finally get our first City Section win. It was just a great moment. Everyone on the team was just super hyped up. That final quarter was just super special to me."

Kensinger also played baseball threw shot put at Venice. He hit .277 in 20 games in baseball and qualified for the City finals in shot put as a senior. 

On Monday, Kensinger will depart for the US Air Force Academy where he'll be playing football.

"I'm super excited," he said. "Everything's moving pretty fast, but I think I'm ready. It's going to be great." 


School: Venice

Sports: Football, Baseball, Track & Field

Next step: Air Force Falcons football

Season highlights and accolades: Division 1 LA City Section football champion, Division 1 LA City Section football Player of the Year, SBLive All-LA City Section football selection

Clubs: Needle Art Club (crocheting), Community Closet Club (clothing donation)

GPA: 4.3



Central Section Male: Nate Johnson, Clovis

Central Section Female: Jazmine Soto, Strathmore

Central Coast Section Male: Mikey Mitchell Jr., Archbishop Mitty

Central Coast Section Female: Jessica Oakland, St. Francis

LA City Section Male: Dylan Kordic, San Pedro

LA City Section Female: Jillian Kelly, El Camino Real

North Coast Section Male: Nico Torrez, De La Salle

North Coast Section Female: Natalie Pasco, San Ramon Valley

Sac-Joaquin Section Male: Jadyn Marshall, Stockton St. Mary's

Sac-Joaquin Section Female: Jzaniya Harriel, Antelope

San Diego Section Male: Nick Herrmann, Torrey Pines

San Diego Section Female: Elise Miller, San Pasqual

Southern Section Male: Thomas Southey, Mira Costa

Southern Section Female: Alyssa Thompson, Harvard-Westlake

2021-22 Northern Section Athlete of the Year: Riley Wickum, Sutter