HINTON, Iowa | In a sign of things to come, young Jay Small won the National Punt, Pass and Kick Finals as a 14-year-old, making the entire town of Hinton proud.
That took place over five years ago at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta and Small hasn’t stopped making headlines since, regardless of what sport he’s been playing.
Small was a fixture in the basketball starting lineup at Hinton High School for four seasons and it was there that he made his biggest mark, becoming the school’s all-time leader in scoring and assists.
His ability drew interest from colleges throughout the country as early as his sophomore season. The dynamic 6-foot-2 guard went on to score 1,875 points and dish out 458 assists in his career, earning first-team all-state honors as a senior.
For some reason, though, Division I offers diminished the past two seasons, even after Small averaged 25.7 and 24.0 points per game as a junior and senior. Therefore, he decided to attend Kirkwood Community College in an effort to re-acquaint himself to Division I coaches.
Basketball, though, was far from the only sport in which Small excelled and today the 19-year-old son of Joel and Sandy Small is honored as The Sioux City Journal Siouxland Male Athlete of the Year.
In fact, when describing the term athlete, Jay Small perfectly fits the bill.
“If I think about Jay Small I’m probably going to say that he’s one of the best competitors we ever got to coach,” Hinton co-head football coach Bruce Held said. “It doesn’t matter what the sport, he just competes his butt off and does it the right way, too.
“He’s such a good kid, had zero issues as far as incidents and his classroom work is top-notch. He’s got the whole package and wants to win at everything he does. He was probably one of the most talented kids we had but also the hardest worker.”
Small began what turned into a banner senior season by earning first-team Iowa Newspaper Association all-state honors in football as a defensive back. He was a versatile quarterback, passing for 1,963 yards and 23 touchdowns and rushing for 671 yards and 13 scores. On defense, he was third on the team with 45.5 tackles.
A three-year starter at quarterback, Small established a bevy of school records on the gridiron as well, racking up over 7,000 total yards.
Jay Rozeboom, the highly successful coach at West Lyon, paid Small quite a compliment when he said he was a better defensive player than most people give him credit for.
Small was also a standout in golf and baseball, qualifying for the state golf meet as a freshman and missing out by just one shot each of the last two seasons. He skipped his junior baseball season to concentrate on basketball, but returned this summer to lead the team with a .420 batting average.
“Whether it be baseball, basketball, football or golf, we as a team and me as an individual worked hard throughout the year and it showed,” Small said. “All of those nights and weekends when you could have been doing something else but were in the gym, that’s what it’s all about.”
Hinton basketball coach John Spies echoed Held’s sentiments.
“In one word, competitor is the No. 1 word that describes Jay,” Spies said. “He kept Hinton boys basketball moving forward. He set the scoring and assist record and he competed every day.
“He pushed me as a coach, which I think is important, and pushed all of his teammates to make them better players. He was the ultimate competitor.”
“He’s a true competitor who always brings a lot to the table offensively and defensively and as a leader,” Hinton baseball coach Cale Kramer said. “You don’t always find kids like that. He’s got that refuse to lose mentality, he’s not going to give up on himself and not going to let the guys give up.”