As a 5-year-old in New Jersey, Saucon Valley High School senior Jason Okken began playing baseball and basketball. After his family moved to the Saucon Valley he continued playing both sports, before adding football as a ninth-grader. Signing up for football enabled him to play with his two older brothers, Tim and Keith, for one year, and with Keith for three years. This past season Jason set the Panther career record for receptions (83), as he snagged 43 passes for 600 yards and 4 touchdowns.
Saucon Valley Head Football Coach Matt Evancho described Okken as "a character."
"He was always ready to lighten the mood up and keep the team’s attitude right this past season," Evancho said. "Jason made sure the team continued to work hard and enjoy the time they were spending with each other.
Evancho noted that Okken "is very talented in multiple sports."
"Coming out of middle school, he wasn’t sure if he wanted to play football," he said. "Four years later, he leaves as one of the top wide receivers in the program’s history, even though he played tight end. He was a game captain multiple times during his sophomore and junior years and was elected a captain by his teammates for his senior year. At the end of the season, it was hard to say goodbye to Jason. He meant a lot to our program and is a big reason for the team’s turnaround during the second half of last season."
Jason (6'3" 215) played forward for the Panther boys varsity basketball team that won the 2011 Colonial League Championship earlier this year. He listed that crowning achievement in his senior year as a highlight of his Saucon Valley athletic career.
Okken played "tough" both on defense and offense, making it difficult for enemy players who battled him under the basket for a rebound, or as he powered his way to score on one of his many layups (which included some spectacular reverse layups).
Head Basketball Coach Matt Brown called Okken "a leader."
"He is hard working and dependable," Brown said. "He is a college level football and baseball player but on the basketball floor he did not shy away from doing the dirty work which helped us win a league championship."
"Kids like Jason are the backbone of successful scholastic athletic programs," he added.
Now that baseball season has started, the Panther catcher looks to hit for an average of above .400, slam a few home runs and help the Panthers make it to the postseason and the District XI playoffs.
Jason noted that winning the Colonial League Title will be a real challenge as there are several powerhouse teams in the league, including Bangor and Pen Argyl in the Northern Division and Southern Lehigh in the Southern Division. These teams will be especially tough to beat, but if the Panthers expect to capture the Colonial League Title they will have to.
Although his favorite major league baseball team, the Boston Red Sox, has not had a really great start to its season, Jason said he will also watch other teams on the MLB Network.
Baseball Head Coach Glen Miller called him "one of the best catchers I have had."
"He is a three-year starter on varsity, keeps the team loose, leads by example and is respected by his teammates," Miller said. "Although he is primarily a catcher, Jason has pitched on occasion and will fill in anywhere when necessary."
Jason has helped out at school-sponsored community sports clinics, where various football, basketball or baseball skills are demonstrated. He has also been active in Saucon Valley's mentor program, in one of the district's first grade classes.
Jason likes history and has a special interest in the history of WWII. He has been to the naval shipyard in Philadelphia, where he boarded the Battleship New Jersey and visited the Ben Franklin Museum. He expects to play baseball at either Ciena, Niagara or Northampton Community College, where he wants to major in computer science in preparation for a career in software design.
The people who have been most infuencial in his life include his older brothers and his father, who he said has instilled him with life values that he also wants to emulate.
In his spare time, Jason said he likes to "hang with friends." One of his favorite foods is steak, which he said he will never refuse if medium-well done!
In addition to his two older brothers, Jason has two younger sisters, Elyssa in eighth grade and Megan in fifth grade. He is the son of Daryl and Michele Okken.